- Jephthah used 29 times.
- First Reference: Judges 11:1
- Last Reference: 1 Samuel 12:11
- Included in Eastons: Yes
- Included in Hitchcocks: No
- Included in Naves: Yes
- Included in Smiths: Yes
- Included in Websters: No
- Included in Strongs: Yes
- Included in Thayers: No
- Included in BDB: Yes
- H3316 Used 29 times
Whom God sets free, or the breaker through, a "mighty man of valour" who delivered Israel from the oppression of the Ammonites (Judges 11:1-33), and judged Israel six years (12:7). He has been described as "a wild, daring, Gilead mountaineer, a sort of warrior Elijah." After forty-five years of comparative quiet Israel again apostatized, and in "process of time the children of Ammon made war against Israel" (11:5). In their distress the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob, to which he had fled when driven out wrongfully by his brothers from his father's inheritance (2), and the people made him their head and captain. The "elders of Gilead" in their extremity summoned him to their aid, and he at once undertook the conduct of the war against Ammon. Twice he sent an embassy to the king of Ammon, but in vain. War was inevitable. The people obeyed his summons, and "the spirit of the Lord came upon him." Before engaging in war he vowed that if successful he would offer as a "burnt-offering" whatever would come out of the door of his house first to meet him on his return. The defeat of the Ammonites was complete. "He smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards [Heb. Abel Keramim], with a very great slaughter" (Judges 11:33). The men of Ephraim regarded themselves as insulted in not having been called by Jephthah to go with him to war against Ammon. This led to a war between the men of Gilead and Ephraim (12:4), in which many of the Ephraimites perished. (See SHIBBOLETH.) "Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead" (7).
A judge of Israel.
Illegitimate, and therefore not entitled to inherit his father's property
Escapes the violence of his half-brothers, dwells in the land of Tob
Recalled from the land of Tob by the elders of Gilead
Made captain of the host
Made head of the land of Gilead
His message to the king of the Ammonites
Leads the host of Israel against the Ammonites
His rash vow concerning his daughter
Judges 11:31; Judges 11:34-40
Falsely accused by the Ephraimites
Leads the army of the Gileadites against the Ephraimites
Judges Israel six years, dies, and is buried in Gilead
(whom God sets free), A judge about B.C. 1143-1137. His history is contained in (Judges 11:1; Judges 12:8) He was a Gileadite, the son of Gilead and a concubine. Driven by the legitimate sons from his father's inheritance, he went to Tob and became the head of a company of freebooters in a debatable land probably belonging to Ammon. (2 Samuel 10:6) (This land was east of Jordan and southeast of Gilead, and bordered on the desert of Arabia.
ED.) His fame as a bold and successful captain was carried back to his native Gilead; and when the time was ripe for throwing off the yoke of Ammon, Jephthah consented to become the captain of the Gileadite bands, on the condition, solemnly ratified before the Lord in Mizpeh, that int he event of his success against Ammon he should still remain as their acknowledged head. Vowing his vow unto God, (Judges 11:31) that he would offer up as a burn offering whatsoever should come out to meet him if successful, he went forth to battle. The Ammonites were routed with great slaughter; but as the conqueror returned to Mizpeh there came out to meet him his daughter, his only child, with timbrels and dancing. The father is heart-stricken; but the maiden asks only for a respite of two months in which to prepare for death. When that time was ended she returned to her father, who "did with her according to his vow." The tribe of Ephraim challenged Jephthah's right to go to war as he had done, without their concurrence, against Ammon. He first defeated them, then intercepted the fugitives at the fords of Jordan, and there put forty-two thousand men to the sword. He judged Isr'l six years, and died. It is generally conjectured that his jurisdiction was limited to the transjordanic region. That the daughter of Jephthah was really offered up to God in sacrifice is a conclusion which it seems impossible to avoid. (But there is no word of approval, as if such a sacrifice was acceptable to God. Josephus well says that "the sacrifice was neither sanctioned by the Mosaic ritual nor acceptable to God." The vow and the fulfillment were the mistaken conceptions of a rude chieftain, not acts pleasing to God.
(Judges 11:30, 31). After a crushing defeat of the Ammonites, Jephthah returned to his own house, and the first to welcome him was his own daughter. This was a terrible blow to the victor, and in his despair he cried out, "Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low...I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and cannot go back." With singular nobleness of spirit she answered, "Do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth." She only asked two months to bewail her maidenhood with her companions upon the mountains. She utters no reproach against her father's rashness, and is content to yield her life since her father has returned a conqueror. But was it so? Did Jephthah offer up his daughter as a "burnt-offering"? This question has been much debated, and there are many able commentators who argue that such a sacrifice was actually offered. We are constrained, however, by a consideration of Jephthah's known piety as a true worshipper of Jehovah, his evident acquaintance with the law of Moses, to which such sacrifices were abhorrent (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31), and the place he holds in the roll of the heroes of the faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32), to conclude that she was only doomed to a life of perpetual celibacy.