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Judges 10:17--11:11

An Outcast Becomes a General

10:17 The Ammonites assembled 1  and camped in Gilead; the Israelites gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 10:18 The leaders 2  of Gilead said to one another, “Who is willing to lead the charge 3  against the Ammonites? He will become the leader of all who live in Gilead!”

11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a brave warrior. His mother was a prostitute, but Gilead was his father. 4  11:2 Gilead’s wife also gave 5  him sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they made Jephthah leave and said to him, “You are not going to inherit any of our father’s wealth, 6  because you are another woman’s son.” 11:3 So Jephthah left 7  his half-brothers 8  and lived in the land of Tob. Lawless men joined Jephthah’s gang and traveled with him. 9 

11:4 It was some time after this when the Ammonites fought with Israel. 11:5 When the Ammonites attacked, 10  the leaders 11  of Gilead asked Jephthah to come back 12  from the land of Tob. 11:6 They said, 13  “Come, be our commander, so we can fight with the Ammonites.” 11:7 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave 14  my father’s house. Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” 11:8 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That may be true, 15  but now we pledge to you our loyalty. 16  Come with us and fight with the Ammonites. Then you will become the leader 17  of all who live in Gilead.” 18  11:9 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “All right! 19  If you take me back to fight with the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, 20  I will be your leader.” 21  11:10 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will judge any grievance you have against us, 22  if we do not do as you say.” 23  11:11 So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander. Jephthah repeated the terms of the agreement 24  before the Lord in Mizpah.

1 tn Or “were summoned;” or “were mustered.”

2 tn Heb “the people, the officers.”

3 tn Heb “Who is the man who will begin fighting.”

4 tn Heb “Now he was the son of a woman, a prostitute, and Gilead fathered Jephthah.”

5 tn Heb “bore.”

6 tn Heb “in the house of our father.”

7 tn Or “fled from.”

8 tn Heb “brothers.”

9 tn Heb “Empty men joined themselves to Jephthah and went out with him.”

10 tn Heb “When the Ammonites fought with Israel.”

11 tn Or “elders.”

12 tn Heb “went to take Jephthah.”

13 tn Heb “to Jephthah.”

14 tn Heb “Did you not hate me and make me leave?”

15 tn Heb “therefore”; “even so.” For MT לָכֵן (lakhen, “therefore”) the LXX has an opposite reading, “not so,” which seems to be based on the Hebrew words לֹא כֵן (lokhen).

16 tn Heb “we have returned to you.” For another example of שׁוּב אֶל (shuvel) in the sense of “give allegiance to,” see 1 Kgs 12:27b.

17 sn Then you will become the leader. The leaders of Gilead now use the word רֹאשׁ (rosh, “head, leader”), the same term that appeared in their original, general offer (see 10:18). In their initial offer to Jephthah they had simply invited him to be their קָצִין (qatsin, “commander”; v. 6). When he resists they must offer him a more attractive reward – rulership over the region. See R. G. Boling, Judges (AB), 198.

18 tn Heb “leader of us and all who live in Gilead.”

19 tn “All right” is supplied in the translation for clarification.

20 tn Heb “places them before me.”

21 tn Some translate the final statement as a question, “will I really be your leader?” An affirmative sentence is preferable. Jephthah is repeating the terms of the agreement in an official manner. In v. 10 the leaders legally agree to these terms.

22 tn Heb “The Lord will be the one who hears between us.” For the idiom שָׁמַע בַּיִן (shamabayin, “to hear between”), see Deut 1:16.

23 sn The Lord will judge…if we do not do as you say. The statement by the leaders of Gilead takes the form of a legally binding oath, which obligates them to the terms of the agreement.

24 tn Heb “spoke all his words.” This probably refers to the “words” recorded in v. 9. Jephthah repeats the terms of the agreement at the Lord’s sanctuary, perhaps to ratify the contract or to emphasize the Gileadites’ obligation to keep their part of the bargain. Another option is to translate, “Jephthah conducted business before the Lord in Mizpah.” In this case, the statement is a general reference to the way Jephthah ruled. He recognized the Lord’s authority and made his decisions before the Lord.

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