|Book||Book of Judges|
|Hebrew Bible part||Nevi'im|
|Order in the Hebrew part||2|
|Christian Bible part||Old Testament (Heptateuch)|
|Order in the Christian part||7|
Judges 11 is the eleventh chapter of the Book of Judges in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. According to Jewish tradition the book was attributed to the prophet Samuel, but modern scholars view it as part of the Deuteronomistic History, which spans in the books of Deuteronomy to 2 Kings, attributed to nationalistic and devotedly Yahwistic writers during the time of the reformer Judean king Josiah in 7th century BCE. This chapter records the activities of judge Jephthah. belonging to a section comprising Judges 6:1 to 16:31.
Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text tradition, which includes the Codex Cairensis (895), Aleppo Codex (10th century), and Codex Leningradensis (1008).
Extant ancient manuscripts of a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint (originally was made in the last few centuries BCE) include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century) and Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century).[a]
A linguistic study by Chisholm reveals that the central part in the Book of Judges (Judges 3:7–16:31) can be divided into two panels based on the six refrains that state that the Israelites did evil in Yahweh’s eyes:
Furthermore from the linguistic evidence, the verbs used to describe the Lord’s response to Israel’s sin have chiastic patterns and can be grouped to fit the division above:
|A.||10:6–16||Israel and Yahweh||10–15|
|B. The Ammonite threat||10:17–11:11||The elders and Jephthah||5–11|
|C.||11:12–28||Jephthah and the Ammonite king||12–28|
|B'. The Ammonite defeat||11:29–40||Jephthah and his daughter||34–38|
|A'.||12:1–7||Jephthah and the Ephraimites||1–4a|
The Jephthah Narrative has a pattern of traditional story about the success of the once marginalized hero who rises to power in a 'non-dynastic' society with 'fluid patterns of leadership'. The hero, Jephthah, was a son of a prostitute, denied rights of inheritance by his father's legitimate children, then became a 'social bandit' chief and gained the military prowess to lead and save his nation. Faced with an imminent Ammonite threat, the leaders of Gilead tried to woo back Jephthah, whom they had marginalized, by offering him the position of "commander", but when he balked they had to increase the offer to the position of "head" ("chieftain"). The agreement between Jephthah and the elders was sealed in a covenant with YHWH as witness (verse 10).
|YHWH and the Israelites (10:10-16)||Jephthah and the elders (11:4-11)|
|The Ammonite oppression (10:7–9)||The Ammonite oppression (11:4)|
|Israel appeals to Yahweh (10:10)||Gilead appeals to Jephthah (11:5-6)|
|Yahweh retorts sarcastically (10:11-14)||Jephthah retorts sarcastically (11:7)|
|Israel repeats the appeal (10:15-16)||Gilead repeats the appeal (11:8)|
|Jephthah seizes the moment opportunistically (11:9-11)|
The concept of 'just war' was the main subject of the exchange between Jephthah and the king of the Ammonites, arguing about land rights using 'juridical language' (cf. formula in 2 Chronicles 35:21; 2 Kings 3:13; 1 Kings 17:18). Jephthah demands to know what justifies the Ammonites' invasion against Israel, and the Ammonite king responds by providing a version of events recorded in Numbers 21:21–31 (cf. Deuteronomy 2:26–35), but painted Israel as the unjust aggressor. In a lengthy response, Jephthah gave a pro-Israelite version of the taking of the disputed territory using three arguments:
Unsurprisingly the Ammonite king rejected Jephthah's arguments, because in an 'enfeebled state' (Judges 10:8–9) Israel should not have power to negotiate, but Jephthah had been willing to give diplomacy a chance before the war and showed himself as the leader of Israel.
This section contains the fourth part of the Jephthah Narrative recording Jephthah's victory over the Ammonites, which is overshadowed by his ill-considered vow, and a special dialogue between Jephthah and his daughter in verses 34–38. In other ancient Near-Eastern cultures, the warriors often promise the deity something of value in return for his assistance in war, a particular belief in the efficacy of sacrifice in the ideology of the "ban" (Hebrew: herem), which leads to the consecration of valuable commodities after victory (cf. Numbers 21:2–3; the terminology at Deuteronomy 13:16). However, in this case, Jephthah's vow is considered rash and manipulative:
The narrative frames the vow (verses 30–31) within the records of battles and victory over the Ammonites in verses 29 and 32 to show that Jephthah's vow is totally unnecessary, as his last words to the Ammonite king should be sufficient, "Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites" (verse 27), that YHWH would deliver the Ammonites to Jephthah's hands just as YHWH delivered Sihon to the Israelites (verse 21). Despite the understandable reluctance of Jephthah and his daughter (verses 37–38), both decided to carry out the vow (verse 39). The obedience of Jephthah's daughter is remembered and noted in a corresponding structure in verses 37–40 as follows:
|Verses 37–39a||Verses 39a–40|
|two months||yearly, four days per year|
|she went (Hebrew: hlk)||the daughters of Israel went (Hebrew: hlk)|
|her companions||the daughters of Israel|
|bewail (Hebrew: bkh)||commemorate (Hebrew: tnh)|