Judges 11:1-40, NLT
Jephthah Becomes Israel’s Judge
1Now Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior. He was the son of Gilead, but his mother was a prostitute.
4At about this time, the Ammonites began their war against Israel.
7But Jephthah said to them, “Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”
8“Because we need you,” the elders replied. “If you lead us in battle against the Ammonites, we will make you ruler over all the people of Gilead.”
9Jephthah said to the elders, “Let me get this straight. If I come with you and if the Lord gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler over all the people?”
10“The Lord is our witness,” the elders replied. “We promise to do whatever you say.”
11So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him their ruler and commander of the army. At Mizpah, in the presence of the Lord, Jephthah repeated what he had said to the elders.
12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon, asking, “Why have you come out to fight against my land?”
13The king of Ammon answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they stole my land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River and all the way to the Jordan. Now then, give back the land peaceably.”
14Jephthah sent this message back to the Ammonite king:
15“This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not steal any land from Moab or Ammon.
18“Finally, they went around Edom and Moab through the wilderness. They traveled along Moab’s eastern border and camped on the other side of the Arnon River. But they never once crossed the Arnon River into Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.
19“Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, asking for permission to cross through his land to get to their destination.
23“So you see, it was the Lord, the God of Israel, who took away the land from the Amorites and gave it to Israel. Why, then, should we give it back to you?
26“Israel has been living here for 300 years, inhabiting Heshbon and its surrounding settlements, all the way to Aroer and its settlements, and in all the towns along the Arnon River. Why have you made no effort to recover it before now?
28But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah’s message.
29At that time the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites.
32So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave him victory.
34When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters.
36And she said, “Father, if you have made a vow to the Lord, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the Lord has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites.
38“You may go,” Jephthah said. And he sent her away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children.
So it has become a custom in Israel