Jephthah @ 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).
Jephthah's vow @ 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:18:21Leviticus: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.