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Judges 11:7-11

Context
11:7 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave 1  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, 2  but now we pledge to you our loyalty. 3  Come with us and fight with the Ammonites. Then you will become the leader 4  of all who live in Gilead.” 5  11:9 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “All right! 6  If you take me back to fight with the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, 7  I will be your leader.” 8  11:10 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will judge any grievance you have against us, 9  if we do not do as you say.” 10  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 11  before the Lord in Mizpah.

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

2 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).

3 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.

4 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.

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

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

7 tn Heb “places them before me.”

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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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