Notes & Commentary:
Harlot. Hebrew Zona, Josue ii. 1. It is uncertain whether she was properly a concubine, or a wife of inferior
dignity. She lived with her son in the house of Galaad; (Calmet) at least the latter was in his father's house. (Haydock)
--- Hence Jephte complains that he had been expelled, not that he was debarred from enjoying his father's inheritance, and
consequently the law was not observed in his regard. Moses makes no provision for illegitimate children, but he excludes the
son of a mamzer from the church of God, Deuteronomy xxiii. 2. Some think that the mother of Jephte was of a nation
with whom it was not lawful to marry. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] v. 9.) Said. (Grotius) --- Seratius believes that his
father was already married, when he had to do with this harlot. (Menochius) --- But he might have first taken her to wife,
without the usual formalities. (Drusius; Cornelius a Lapide) --- It is equally uncertain whether Jephte was of the tribe of
Gad or of Manasses, as both occupied the country of Galaad. Interpreters generally conclude that he was of one of these tribes,
and most probably of the latter; his father also was called Galaad. (Haydock)
Sons. Grabe's Septuagint determines the number to be "two." (Haydock) --- They caused the magistrates to declare that
Jephte should not partake in the inheritance, ver. 7. (Menochius)
Tob, to the north of Galaad, of which it is a part. (Josephus) --- It is called Tubim, 1 Machabees v. 13. See 2 Kings
x. 6. --- And robbers. This is a farther explication of rekim, poor, vain fellows, chap ix. 4. They did not
infest the Israelites, but made war on their enemies around; latro, in Latin, often signifies a soldier, particularly
such as lived on plunder, as we read in Plautus. (Mil. glorios.) Latrocinatus annos decem, mercedem accipio. Some have
imagined that Jephte was at the head of some banditti. (St. Augustine, q. 43.) --- But David's followers were of the same
description (1 Kings xxii. 2,) as those of Jephte, men of determined resolution and valour. (Calmet) --- Such a man as Jephte,
was therefore a valuable acquisition to the dispirited Israelites; and Providence had inured him to labour, and endued him
with extraordinary prudence, notwithstanding his want of education, ver. 12. Necessity has often supplied every deficiency,
and produced the most consummate generals. Prince. Hebrew and Septuagint, "and there were gathered unto Jephte vain
men, and they went out with him." (Haydock)
Hard. Hebrew, "and when the Ammonites made war." As both armies were encamped near Maspha, they could hardly avoid
having some skirmishes. But the Israelites durst not come to a pitched battle till they had Jephte at their head. (Haydock)
--- The Ammonites infested them every year with similar incursions, ver. 12. (Calmet)
House. Perhaps he saw some of his brothers among them: though he might speak thus to the magistrates, because they
had not prevented this injustice, (Calmet) as it was their duty to do. (Haydock)
Cause to make some reparation for our offence, though we must acknowledge that our present distress caused us to think
of doing so. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "therefore we turn again to thee," &c. (Calmet) --- Galaad. They only engage
that the tribes of Gad and Manasses, who inhabited that country, should submit to his authority. (Menochius) --- But as they
were the most in danger, they first make head against the enemy, not doubting but their brethren in other parts would come
to their assistance, chap. xii. 1. God ratified their choice, ver. 11, 29; (Haydock) and he was acknowledged, after his victory,
judge of all Israel. (Menochius)
Prince. Hebrew, "head or captain," (Haydock) to carry on the war, with a promise that he should be the judge of all
the people, if he succeeded. (Calmet) --- Words. Plans, explaining how he would first send a message to the king of
Ammon, and if he would not accede to reasonable terms, he would collect all the forces of Galaad, and invite all their brethren
on the other side of the river to make a joint attack upon him. (Haydock) --- The Lord was considered as present in their
public assemblies, Deuteronomy vi., and xx. (Menochius) --- He had also been taken by the people to witness their engagement;
and Jephte promises, in like manner, to perform his part with fidelity. (Haydock) --- They promise on oath to be constant
to each other. (Calmet)
Land. Jephte acts with a prudence and moderation which could not have been expected from one who had been brought up
amid the noise of arms. (Calmet) --- He gives notice that he has been recognized by the lawful proprietors of the land for
their head; and therefore begs that the Ammonites would desist from their unjust warfare. If words prove ineffectual, he must
then try the fortune of a battle. (Haydock)
To me. The king falsely asserts, that all the country between the Arnon and the Jaboc belonged to him when Moses took
it. The Amorrhites had possession when the Israelites arrived, and it had formerly been occupied by Moab, and not by Ammon,
Deuteronomy ii. 19., and 37; (Menochius) unless both might claim different parts. (Calmet)
Moab. After the death of Eglon, the Ammonites had probably seized upon his dominions, (ver. 25,) as we find no farther
mention of the Moabites among the enemies of Israel, nor any king of that nation till the reign of David. Hence, as the king
of Ammon laid claim to all the country, and had many of the Moabites in his army, Jephte answers at once, that the land under
dispute belonged to neither of these nations. (Calmet) --- They had entirely lost it when Israel attacked Sehon, and took
it from him, as was plain from the history of Moses and of the Amorrhites, Numbers xxi. 27. (Haydock) --- Jephte refers to
facts universally known. (Calmet)
Red Sea, as Asiongaber, many years after they left Egypt.
Moab. This is not specified by Moses, but he sufficiently insinuates that he had done it, Deuteronomy ii. 8, 9. (Calmet)
His land, which the Amorrhite had first conquered, and which God took from him to give to Israel. It was clear that
this country was not then considered as the property of the sons of Lot, since God expressly forbad his people to molest them.
(Haydock) --- Jephte produces the right of conquest, the grant of God, and the possession of 300 years, to prove that the
country belonged to the Israelites. All acknowledge that the right of conquest, in a just war, give a good title. (Grotius,
Jur. iii. 6, 7.) --- The children of Lot had lost all hopes of recovering what Sehon had taken from them. (Calmet) --- He
could not be proved to be a thief or an usurper, but was in peaceable possession when the war with Israel commenced, in which
he lost all his dominions. (Haydock) --- By the same right, David kept what he had taken from the Amalecite plunderers, (1
Kings xxx. 20,) and Abraham might have retained the spoils which had been carried off from Sodom, Genesis xiv. 21. The Roman
and Grecian histories are full of such examples; and this right was admitted by all as the law of nations, Quæ ex hostibus,
jure gentium, statim capientium fiunt. (Caius. J. C.) --- The second argument of Jepthe is unanswerable, since God may
undoubtedly transfer the property of one to another. But as the Ammonites might reply that they did not admit the God of Israel,
he observes that the latter might at least have the same privilege as their Chamos, ver. 24. Prescription of so long a time,
with good faith, was the third argument, as the Amorrhites being destroyed, and the Moabites disheartened, could not pretend
to reclaim the conquered country. There would never be an end of disputes among men, if the undisturbed possession of a country
for such a length of time did not confirm their right to it. These principles establish the tranquillity of families and of
states. (Calmet; Grotius, Jur. ii. 4.)
Chamos. The idol of the Moabites and Ammonites. He argues from their opinion, who thought they had a just title to
the countries which they imagined they had conquered by the help of their gods: how much more then had Israel an indisputable
title to the countries which God, by visible miracles, had conquered for them. (Challoner) --- Hebrew, "And shall not we possess
those (counties occupied by the people whom) the Lord our God has driven out from before us?" (Haydock) --- The Emim had been
expelled by the people, Deuteronomy ii. 10. Chamos was the peculiar deity of Moab, (Numbers xxi. 29., and Jeremias xlviii.
46., &c.; Calmet) and signifies "as taking away." It is commonly supposed to be the sun. (Haydock)
Him. Josue (xxiv. 9,) says that Balac fought against Israel. But it was not in a pitched battle, (Calmet) at
least of which we have the particulars, (Haydock) nor to recover the territory which the Israelites had taken from Sehon,
but only to defend his own dominions. He collected an army, and called the soothsayer to curse Israel, Numbers xxii. 4, &c.
He. Hebrew, "While Israel," &c. --- Years. He makes use of a round number. (Haydock) --- Chronologists generally
suppose that either more or fewer years had elapsed; (Menochius) and the Scripture only relates what Jephte said. (Sa) ---
The Jews reckon 394. Some date from the coming out of Egypt 305. (Calmet) --- Petau has 365. But as Jephte only speaks of
the time during which the Israelites had occupied the land, the 40 years' sojournment must be deducted, and still Petau will
have 25 years too many; (Haydock) whereas "those who adduce the title of prescription, are accustomed rather to increase than
to diminish the length of time." (Usher, p. 74.) --- Hence this author allows only 263 years. Houbigant comes rather nearer
to the number of Jephte, and reckons 281, which the ambassadors might represent, in a round number, as 300. (Proleg.) ---
Salien almost agrees with Usher dating 306 years from the exit, and 266 from the victory over Sehon. He observes, with Eusebius,
that Hercules instituted the Olympic games in the first year of Jephte, in the year of the world 2849. But they were restored,
and became a famous epoch only 400 years after. He place the first rape of Helen by Theseus at the same time, when she was
about 12 years old. In her 24th, she was stolen again by Paris, and gave occasion to the famous siege of Troy. (Haydock)
And decide. Literally, "the arbiter of this day." Jephte is so well convinced of the justice of his cause, that he
is willing to abide by God's decision, (Haydock) to be manifested by the issue of the battle. (Menochius) --- At the same
time, he threatens the Ammonites with God's judgments, if by their fault blood be shed unjustly, as he, like a good prince,
had tried every means to prevent that misfortune, and to bring things to an amicable conclusion. (Calmet)
Therefore. Hebrew, "then." Septuagint, "and." The refusal of the king of Ammon was not precisely the reason why God
endued Jephte with shuch wisdom and courage, though we may say that it was the occasion. (Haydock) --- Jephte summoned the
troops in Galaad, and in the two tribes of Manasses, to attend his standard. He also invited Ephraim, (chap. xii. 2.; Calmet)
and we may reasonably suppose the other tribes also, who were near enough to be ready for the day of battle. Having collected
what force he could in so short a time, he returned to Maspha, and thence proceeded to attack the enemy. (Haydock)
He. Hebrew and Septuagint, "And he vowed." A new sentence commences; (Cajetan) so that it is not clear that Jephte
was moved to make this vow by the spirit of the Lord; else it could not be blamed. (Haydock)
Whosoever, &c. Some are of opinion, that the meaning of this vow of Jephte, was to consecrate to God whatsoever
should first meet him, according to the condition of the thing; so as to offer it up as a holocaust, if it were such a thing
as might be so offered by the law; or to devote it otherwise to God, if it were not such as the law allowed to be offered
in sacrifice. And therefore they think the daughter of Jephte was not slain by her father, but only consecrated to perpetual
virginity. But the common opinion followed by the generality of the holy fathers and divines is, that she was offered as a
holocaust, in consequence of her father's vow: and that Jephte did not sin, at least not mortally, neither in making nor in
keeping his vow; since he is no ways blamed for it in scripture; and was even inspired by God himself to make the vow, (as
appears from ver. 29, 30.) in consequence of which he obtained the victory; and therefore he reasonably concluded that God,
who is the master of life and death, was pleased, on this occasion, to dispense with his own law; and that it was the divine
will he should fulfil his vow. (Challoner) --- St. Thomas [Aquinas] (2. 2. q. 88. a. 2.) acknowledges that Jephte was inspired
to make a vow, and his devotion herein is praised by the apostle, Hebrews xi. 32. But he afterwards followed his own spirit,
in delivering himself, without mature deliberation, and in executing what he had so ill engaged himself to perform. This decision
seems to be the most agreeable to the Scripture, and to the holy fathers. St. Jerome (in Jer. vii.) says, non sacrificium
placet, sed animus offerentis. "If Jephte offered his virgin daughter, it was not the sacrifice, but the good will of
the offerer which deserves applause." Almost all the ancients seem to agree that the virgin was really burnt to death; and
the versions have whosoever, which intimates that Jephte intended to offer a human victim; particularly as he could
not expect a beast fit for such a purpose, would come out of the doors of his house to meet him. (Calmet) --- Yet many of
the moderns, considering how much such things are forbidden by God, cannot persuade themselves that Jephte should be so ignorant
of the law, or that the priests and people of Israel should suffer him to transgress it. The original may be rendered as well,
"whatsoever proceedeth....shall surely be the Lord's, and (Protestants) or I will offer it up for a holocaust." (Pagnin. &c.)
--- The version of Houbigant is very favourable to this opinion. See Hook's Principia. --- It is supposed that the sacrifice
of Iphigenia, which took place about this time, (Aulis. v. 26,) was only in imitation of this of Jephte's daughter. But the
poets say, that Diana saved her life, and substituted a doe in her place; (Ovid, Met. xii.) which, if true, would make the
conformity more striking, if we admit that the sacrifice of Jephte's daughter was not carried into effect. Iphigenia was made
a priestess of Diana, to whom human victims were immolated. The daughter of Jephte, whom the false Philo calls Seila, was
consecrated to the Lord, and shut up (Haydock) to lead a kind of monastic life; as the wives of David, (2 Kings xx. 3.; Grotius)
after they had been dishonoured, were obliged to live in a state of continency. Although (Haydock) forced chastity be not
a virtue, (Calmet) yet Jephte had no reason to believe that his daughter would not enter into the spirit of his vow, and embrace
that state for God's honour and service. We know that she gave her entire consent to whatever might be the nature of his vow;
and surely she would be as ready to refrain from marriage, however desirable at that time, as to be burnt alive, which would
effectually prevent her from becoming a mother, ver. 37. To require this of her, was not, at least, more cruel in her father
than to offer her in sacrifice. The Chaldean paraphrast says, "Jephte did not consult Phinees, the priest, or he might have
redeemed her;" and Kimchi gives us a very mean idea, both of Jephte and of the high priest, the great Phinees, whom the Rabbins
foolishly suppose was still living, and of course above 300 years old, ver. 26. --- "Phinees said, He wants me, let him
come to me. But Jephte, the head of the princes of Israel, shall I go to him? During this contest the girl perished."
To such straits are those reduced who wish to account for the neglect of Jephte in redeeming his daughter, as the Targum observes,
was lawful for a sum of money, Leviticus xxvii. 2, 3, 28. --- But (Haydock) his vow was of the nature of the cherom,
which allowed of no redemption, and required death. (Calmet) --- On this point, however, interpreters are not agreed, and
this manner of devoting to death, probably, regarded only the enemies of God, or such things as were under a person's absolute
dominion. (Haydock) --- If a dog had first come out to meet Jephte, could he have offered it up for a holocaust? Certainly
not, (Grotius) because it was prohibited, (Deuteronomy xxiii. 18,) to offer even its price, (Haydock) and only oxen,
sheep, goats, turtles and doves, were the proper victims. If, therefore, a person made a vow, of a man, he was to be
consecrated to the Lord, (Grotius) like Samuel, and he might marry. But a woman could not, as she was already declared the
servant of the Lord, and was not at liberty to follow her husband. (Amama) --- We need not herein labour to defend the conduct
of Jephte. The Scripture does not canonize him on this account. If he did wrong, his repentance, and other heroic acts of
virtue, might justly entitle him to be ranked among the saints of the old law. (St. Augustine, q. 49) --- "Shew me the man
who has not fallen into sin....Jephte returned victorious from the enemy, but in the midst of his triumph, he was overcome
by his own vow, so that he thought it proper to requite the piety of his daughter, who came out to meet him, by parricide.
In the first place, what need was there of making a vow so hastily, to promise things uncertain, the event of which he knew
not, instead of what was certain? Then why did he perform so sorrowful a vow to the Lord God, by shedding blood?" (St. Ambrose,
Apol. Dav. i. 4.) --- This saint adopts the common opinion that Jephte really immolated his daughter. But he is far from thinking
that he was influenced by the holy spirit to make the vow, otherwise he would never represent it in such odious colours. If
God had required the life of Jephte's daughter, as he did formerly command Abraham to sacrifice his son, the obedience and
faith of the former would have been equally applauded, as the good will of the latter. But most of those who embrace the opinion
that Jephte sacrificed his daughter, are forced to excuse or to condemn the action. They suppose that he was permitted to
fulfil his vow, that others might be deterred from making similar promises, without the divine authority. (St. Chrysostom,
hom. xiv. ad pop. Ant.; St. Jerome, contra Jov. i.) "I shall never, says St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 12,) be induced to believe
that Jephte, the prince, did not promise incautiously that he would immolate whatever should meet him,...since he repented
of his vow," &c. We may observe that this great Doctor supposes, that Jepthe promised to sacrifice the first thing
that should meet him "at the door of his own house;" whence he seems to take whosoever in the same latitude as
we have given in the Hebrew. He concludes, "I cannot accuse the man who was obliged to fulfil his vow," &c. We may imitate
his moderation, (Haydock) rather than adopt the bold language of one who has written notes on the Protestant Bible, (1603)
who says, without scruple, that by this rash vow and wicked performance, his victory was defaced; and again, that he
was overcome with blind zeal, not considering whether the vow was lawful or not. (Worthington). --- If Jephte was under
the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost in what he did, as Salien believes, and the context by no means disproves, we ought
to admire the faith of this victorious judge, though he gave way to the feelings of human nature, ver. 35. We should praise
his fidelity either in sacrificing or in consecrating his daughter to God's service in perpetual virginity: but if he followed
his own spirit, we cannot think that he was so ill-informed or so barbarous as to murder his daughter, nor that she would
consent to an impiety which so often disgraced the pagan superstition, though she might very well agree to embrace that better
part, which her father and God himself, by a glorious victory, seemed to have marked out for her. Amid the variety of
opinions which have divided the learned on this subject, infidels can derive no advantage or solid proof against the divine
authority of the Scripture, and of our holy religion. The fact is simply recorded. People are at liberty to form what judgment
of it they think most rational. If they decide that Jepthe was guilty of an oversight, or of a downright impiety, it will
in the first place be difficult for them to prove it to the general satisfaction; and when they have done so, they will only
evince that he was once a sinner, and under this idea the word of God gives him no praise. But if he did wrong in promising,
as many of the Fathers believe, he might be justified in fulfilling his vow, as God might intimate to him both interiorly,
and by granting him the victory, that he dispensed with his own law, and required this sort of victim in order to foreshew
the bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, (Serarius and Salien, in the year of the world 2850) or the state of virginity
which his blessed Mother and so many nuns and others in the Christian Church embrace with fervour. --- Peace, with
victory. --- Same. Hebrew, "it shall be the Lord's, and (or) I will make it ascend a whole burnt-offering." (Haydock)
--- The particle ve often signifies or as well as and, and it is explained in this sense here by the
two Kimchis, by Junius, &c. See Exodus xxi. 17. Piscator says, the first part of the sentence determines that whatever
the thing was it should be consecrated to the Lord, with the privilege of being redeemed, (Leviticus xxvii. 11,) and the second
shews that it should be immolated, if it were a suitable victim. (Amama)
Aroer, upon the Arnon, belonged to the tribe of Gad. Mennith was four miles from Hesebon, towards Rabbath. ---
Abel was noted for its vineyards, 12 miles east of Gadara, so that Jephte pursued the enemy, as they fled towards the
north for about 60 miles, and during the course of the war destroyed 20 of their cities, (Calmet) to punish them for their
unjust revenges and usurpation of another's property. (Haydock)
Daughter. It seems the vow had been kept secret, as no precautions were taken to prevent the affliction of the general;
(Calmet) and indeed to have done so, would have been injurious to God's providence, and childish in Jephte, as he meant to
offer whatever should come to meet him. It would have been very mean, and contrary to the meaning of the vow, for him to procure
something for which he had no great value, to present itself. (Haydock) --- Dances, as it was customary on such occasions,
1 Kings xviii. 6.
Alas. These indications of grief are the effects of nature. (Salien) --- St. Ambrose considers them as the marks of
repentance; (ver. 31,) and we might hence infer that the vow was not dictated by the holy spirit, who would have endued Jepthe
with fortitude, as he did Abraham, though all may not possess the virtue of that great father of believers, Genesis xxii.
(Haydock) --- Deceived. We mutually expected comfort from each other's presence: but we must both experience the reverse.
Hebrew may signify, "depressed, terrified," &c. --- Thing. Hebrew, "I cannot recede." (Haydock) --- It appears
that he could not redeem what he had promised, (Calmet) as the condition had been fulfilled on the part of God. He might consider
that he as no longer at liberty to use the privilege which the law allowed, when no condition had been specified, Leviticus
xxvii. 4. (Haydock)
Bewail my virginity. The bearing of children was much coveted under the Old Testament, when women might hope that from
some child of theirs the Saviour of the world might one day spring. But under the New Testament virginity is preferred, 1
Corinthians vii. 35.
Mountains. Such places were frequented in times of mourning, Jeremias xxxi. 15., and Isaias xv. 2. (Calmet) --- Jepthe
allowed his daughter this short respite, without any offence, (Deuteronomy xxiii. 21,) before he immolated her, (Menochius)
or before he debarred her from the society of men. (Grotius, &c.)
Father. Her fortitude is commended by St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 12,) as more worthy of admiration than that of the two
Pythagorean friends, one of whom, being sentenced to die, procured the other to stand bond for his return; and, at the time
appointed, came freely to deliver himself up; an instance of generosity which made the tyrant who had sentenced him to die,
beg that they would admit him into the society of their friendship. (Haydock) --- Whatever we may think of Jephte, "we cannot
sufficiently admire the dutiful behaviour, and amiable simplicity of the daughter, who voluntarily submitted to her parent's
will, and exhorted him to do as he had vowed. To die to sin, to resign the pomps of a licentious world, to renounce those
pleasures and incentives to vice, which are inconsistent with a clean heart, is a sacrifice truly meritorious, and acceptable
to God; it is a sacrifice which was solemnly begun at the font of baptism." (Reeves, in the year of the world 2817.) --- No
man. It is remarked by those who believe that she was not slain, that this observation would be very unnecessary in the
contrary opinion. No mention of death is made. The virgin only deplores, with pious resignation, that she cannot be the happy
mother of the Messias.
Lament. Hebrew Lethanoth. On this term the solution of this question greatly depends. (Haydock) --- Kimchi translates,
"to talk with," or "to comfort the daughter of Jephte" as he supposes that the custom subsisted during her life, while she
was shut up either near the tabernacle, or in her father's house. (Calmet) --- Montanus renders "to speak to." Junius and
the Tigurin version, "to discourse with." --- Thanan certainly is used for "he related," &c. Judges v. 11., yethannu
narrentur, or rather narrent; and the construction here seems to require this sense. (Amama) --- If this be admitted,
the bloody sacrifice is at an end, since the daughters of Israel could not meet to comfort the virgin every year, if she was
immolated at the expiration of two months. But if we follow the translation of the Vulgate, Septuagint, and Chaldean, as the
Protestants have done, the lamentation might still be viewed in the same light, as tending to condole with the lady, rather
than bewail her untimely death, (Haydock) as, for the latter purpose, it would not have been necessary for them to assemble
together. (Amama) --- They might well enter into her sentiments, when she mourned her virginity, (ver. 38,) and strive
to yield her some comfort in her secluded state, by coming in such numbers, and with the permission of the priests of God,
continuing with her four days. (Haydock) --- Some translate "to publish," or sound forth the praises (Calmet) of this
heroic virgin, which may be true, whether she was slain, or only consecrated to the Lord. (Haydock) --- St. Epiphanius (hær.
55., and 78,) informs us that "at Sichem an annual sacrifice was still offered up in the name of the virgin, and that she
was revered as a goddess by the people in the vicinity." The vow of Jephte seems to have given rise to what we read in profane
authors, of that which Idomeneus, king of Crete, made in the midst of a storm at sea: "He vowed that he would sacrifice to
the gods whatever met him first. It happened that his son was the person, whom, when he had immolated, or, as others say,
had wished to do it, and afterwards a pestilence had ensued, his subjects drove him from his kingdom." (Servius in Æneid iii.,
and xi.) (Calmet) --- Aldrovandus (in Asino) relates a similar vow of Alexander the Great. Even the more sober pagans could
not, it seems, approve of the unwarranted vows of parents to destroy the lives of their children. But of people consecrated
to the Lord, by their parents, without first requiring their consent, we have many examples, in Samuel. (St. Bonaventure,
July 14, &c.) --- If we explain the vow of Jephte in the same sense, every difficulty will be removed, and infidels will
not allege this example to prove that human victims are pleasing to God. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Jephte is made ruler of the people of Galaad: he first pleads
their cause against the Ammonites; then making a vow, obtains a signal victory: he performs his vow.
1 There was at that time Jephte, the Galaadite, a most valiant man, and
a warrior, the son of a woman that was a harlot, and his father was Galaad.
2 Now Galaad had a wife of whom he had sons: who, after they were grown
up, thrust out Jephte, saying: Thou canst not inherit in the house of our father, because thou art born of another mother.
3 Then he fled and avoided them, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there
were gathered to him needy men, and robbers, and they followed him as their prince.
4 In those days the children of Ammon made war against Israel.
5 And as they pressed hard upon them, the ancients of Galaad went to fetch
Jephte out of the land of Tob to help them:
6 And they said to him: Come thou, and be our prince, and fight against
the children of Ammon.
7 And he answered them: *Are not you the men that hated me, and cast me
out of my father's house, and now you are come to me, constrained by necessity?
8 And the princes of Galaad said to Jephte: For this cause we are now come
to thee, that thou mayst go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be head over all the inhabitants of Galaad.
9 Jephte also said to them: If you be come to me sincerely, that I should
fight for you against the children of Ammon, and the Lord shall deliver them into my hand, shall I be your prince?
10 They answered him: The Lord who heareth these things, he himself is
mediator and witness that we will do as we have promised.
11 *Jephte therefore went with the princes of Galaad, and all the people
made him their prince. And Jephte spoke all his words before the Lord in Maspha.
12 And he sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, to say
in his name: What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me, to waste my land?
13 And he answered them: *Because Israel took away my land, when he came
up out of Egypt, from the confines of the Arnon unto the Jaboc and the Jordan: now, therefore, restore the same peaceably
14 And Jephte again sent word by them, and commanded them to say to the
king of Ammon:
15 Thus saith Jephte: Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the
land of the children of Ammon:
16 But when they came up out of Egypt, he walked through the desert to
the Red Sea, and came into Cades.
17 *And he sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying: Suffer me to pass
through thy land. But he would not condescend to his request. He sent also to the king of Moab, who, likewise, refused to
give him passage. He abode, therefore, in Cades,
18 And went round the land of Edom at the side, and the land of Moab: and
came over-against the east coast of the land of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon: *and he would not enter the
bounds of Moab.
19 So Israel sent messengers to Sehon, king of the Amorrhites, who dwelt
in Hesebon, and they said to him: Suffer me to pass through thy land to the river.
20 But he, also despising the words of Israel, suffered him not to pass
through his borders: but gathering an infinite multitude, went out against him to Jasa, and made strong opposition.
21 And the Lord delivered him, with all his army, into the hands of Israel,
and he slew him, and possessed all the land of the Amorrhite, the inhabitant of that country,
22 And all the coasts thereof from the Arnon to the Jaboc, and from the
wilderness to the Jordan.
23 So the Lord, the God of Israel, destroyed the Amorrhite, his people
of Israel fighting against him, and wilt thou now possess his land?
24 Are not those things which thy god Chamos possesseth, due to thee by
right? But what the Lord our God hath obtained by conquest, shall be our possession:
25 *Unless, perhaps, thou art better than Balac, the son of Sephor, king
of Moab: or canst shew that he strove against Israel, and fought against him,
26 Whereas he hath dwelt in Hesebon, and the villages thereof, and in Aroer,
and its villages, and in all the cities near the Jordan, for three hundred years. Why have you for so long a time attempted
nothing about this claim?
27 Therefore I do not trespass against thee, but thou wrongest me by declaring
an unjust war against me. The Lord be judge, and decide this day, between Israel and the children of Ammon.
28 And the king of the children of Ammon would not hearken to the words
of Jephte, which he sent him by the messengers.
29 Therefore the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephte, and going round Galaad,
and Manasses, and Maspha of Galaad, and passing over from thence to the children of Ammon,
30 He made a vow to the Lord, saying: If thou wilt deliver the children
of Ammon into my hands,
31 Whosoever shall first come forth out of the doors of my house, and shall
meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord.
32 And Jephte passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them:
and the Lord delivered them into his hands.
33 And he smote them from Aroer till you come to Mennith, twenty
cities, and as far as Abel, which is set with vineyards, with a very great slaughter: and the children of Ammon were humbled
by the children of Israel.
34 And when Jephte returned into Maspha, to his house, his only daughter
met him with timbrels and with dances: for he had no other children.
35 And when he saw her, he rent his garments, and said: Alas! my daughter,
thou hast deceived me, and thou thyself art deceived: for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I can do no other thing.
36 And she answered him: My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth to the
Lord, do unto me whatsoever thou hast promised, since the victory hath been granted to thee, and revenge of thy enemies.
37 And she said to her father: Grant me only this, which I desire: Let
me go, that I may go about the mountains for two months, and may bewail my virginity with my companions.
38 And he answered her: Go. And he sent her away for two months. And when
she was gone with her comrades and companions, she mourned her virginity in the mountains.
39 And the two months being expired, she returned to her father, and he
did to her as he had vowed, and she knew no man. From thence came a fashion in Israel, and a custom has been kept:
40 That, from year to year, the daughters of Israel assemble together,
and lament the daughter of Jephte, the Galaadite, for four days.
7: Genesis xxvi. 27.
11: Year of the World 2817, Year before Christ 1187.
13: Numbers xxi. 24.
17: Numbers xx. 14.
18: Numbers xxi. 13.
25: Numbers xxii. 2.