Jephthah Called to Be Judge
11 Jephthah was a soldier from the region of Gilead. Jephthah’s father was named Gilead. His mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead’s wife also gave birth to sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they threw Jephthah out. They told him, “You’ll get no inheritance from our father. You’re the son of that other woman.” 3 Jephthah fled from his brothers. He went to live in the land of Tob. Worthless men gathered around Jephthah and went out on raids with him.
4 Later, Ammon waged war with Israel. 5 When the Ammonites attacked Israel, Gilead’s leaders went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 They said to Jephthah, “Come and be our commander so that we can wage war against Ammon.”
7 But Jephthah replied to Gilead’s leaders, “Don’t you hate me? Didn’t you throw me out of my father’s house? So why are you coming to me now when you’re in trouble?”
8 Gilead’s leaders answered Jephthah, “The reason we’ve turned to you now is that we want you to go with us and wage war against Ammon. You will be the ruler of everyone who lives in Gilead.”
9 Jephthah told them, “If you take me back to fight against Ammonites and Yahweh gives them to me, I will be your leader.”
10 Gilead’s leaders said to Jephthah, “Yahweh is a witness between us. We will certainly do what you say.” 11 Jephthah went with them, and the people made him their leader and commander. So Jephthah went to Mizpah and repeated all these things in the presence of Yahweh.
The King of Ammon Refuses to Deal with Jephthah
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon. They asked the king, “Why did you invade my land and wage war against me?”
13 The king of Ammon answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When the people of Israel left Egypt, they took my land. It stretched from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River and the Jordan River. Now give it back peacefully.”
14 Jephthah again sent messengers to the king of Ammon. 15 They said, “This is what Jephthah says: The people of Israel didn’t take away the land belonging to Moab or Ammon. 16 When the people of Israel left Egypt, they went through the desert to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh. 17 The people of Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom. They said, ‘Please let us go through your country.’ But the king of Edom wouldn’t listen to them. They also sent messengers to the king of Moab. But he wouldn’t allow it, either. So the people of Israel remained at Kadesh.
18 “Then they went through the desert, by-passing Edom and Moab. They camped east of Moab—east of the Arnon River. They did not cross the Arnon River because it was Moab’s border.
19 “Then the people of Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites. Sihon ruled from Heshbon. The people of Israel said to him, ‘Please let us go through your land to our own.’ 20 But Sihon did not trust the Israelites enough to let them go through his territory. Sihon assembled all his troops. He camped at Jahaz and attacked Israel. 21 But Yahweh Elohim of Israel handed Sihon and all his people over to Israel. Israel defeated them and took possession of all the land of the Amorites who lived there. 22 Israel took all the Amorite territory from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River and from the desert to the Jordan River.
23 “Yahweh Elohim of Israel forced the Amorites out of the way of his people Israel. So what right do you have to take it back? 24 Shouldn’t you take possession of what your god Chemosh took for you? Shouldn’t we take everything Yahweh our Elohim took for us? 25 You’re not any better than Balak, son of King Zippor of Moab, are you? Did he ever have a case against Israel? Or did he ever fight against Israel? 26 Israel has now lived in Heshbon, Aroer, all their villages, and in all the cities along the Arnon River for 300 years. Why didn’t you recapture these cities during that time? 27 I haven’t sinned against you. But you have done wrong by waging war against me. Yahweh is the Shophet who will decide today whether Israel or Ammon is right.”
28 But the king of Ammon didn’t listen to the message Jephthah sent him.
29 Then the Ruach Yahweh came over Jephthah. Jephthah went through Gilead, Manasseh, and Mizpah in Gilead to gather an army. From Mizpah in Gilead Jephthah went to attack Ammon.
30 Jephthah made a vow to Yahweh. He said, “If you will really hand Ammon over to me, 31 then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from Ammon will belong to Yahweh. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
32 So Jephthah went to fight against Ammon. Yahweh handed the people of Ammon over to him. 33 He defeated them from Aroer to Minnith and on to Abel Keramim, 20 cities in all. It was a decisive defeat. So the Ammonites were crushed by the people of Israel.
34 When Jephthah went to his home in Mizpah, he saw his daughter coming out to meet him. She was dancing with tambourines in her hands. She was his only child. Jephthah had no other sons or daughters. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes in grief and said, “Oh no, Daughter! You’ve brought me to my knees! What disaster you’ve brought me! I made a foolish promise to Yahweh. Now I can’t break it.”
36 She said to him, “Father, you made a promise to Yahweh. Do to me whatever you promised since Yahweh has punished your enemy Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Do me a favor. Give me two months for my friends and me to walk in the mountains and mourn that I will never have an opportunity to get married.”
38 “Go!” he said, and he sent her off for two months. She and her friends went to the mountains, and she cried about never being able to get married. 39 At the end of those two months she came back to her father. He did to her what he had vowed, and she never had a husband. So the custom began in Israel 40 that for four days every year the girls in Israel would go out to sing the praises of the daughter of Jephthah, the man from Gilead.
12 The men of Ephraim were summoned to fight. They crossed the Jordan River to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you fight against Ammon without inviting us to go with you? Now we’re going to burn your house down with you in it.”
2 Jephthah answered, “My people and I were involved in a legal dispute with Ammon. I asked you for help, but you didn’t rescue me from them. 3 When I saw that you would not rescue me, I risked my life and went to fight the people of Ammon. Yahweh handed them over to me. So why did you come to fight against me today?”
4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim. They did this because Ephraim had said, “You people from Gilead are nothing but fugitives from Ephraim and Manasseh.”
5 The men of Gilead captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan River leading back to Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim said, “Let me cross,” the men of Gilead would ask, “Are you from Ephraim?” If he answered, “No,” 6 they would tell him, “Say the word shibboleth.” If the fugitive would say sibboleth, because he couldn’t pronounce the word correctly, they would grab him and kill him at the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. At that time 42,000 men from Ephraim died.
7 Jephthah judged Israel for six years. Then Jephthah of Gilead died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
Ibzan Serves as Judge
8 After Jephthah, Ibzan from Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had 30 sons and 30 daughters. His sons and daughters married people from outside their own families. He judged Israel for seven years. 10 When Ibzan died, he was buried in Bethlehem.
Elon Serves as Judge
11 After Ibzan, Elon from the tribe of Zebulun judged Israel. He judged Israel for ten years. 12 When Elon died, he was buried in Aijalon in the territory of Zebulun.
Abdon Serves as Judge
13 After Elon, Abdon, son of Hillel, from Pirathon judged Israel. 14 He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. He judged Israel for eight years. 15 When Abdon died, he was buried in Pirathon, in the territory of Ephraim, in the mountains of Amalek.
The Word Becomes Human
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was already with God in the beginning.
3 Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him.
4 He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.
5 The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.[a]
6 God sent a man named John to be his messenger. 7 John came to declare the truth about the light so that everyone would become believers through his message. 8 John was not the light, but he came to declare the truth about the light.
9 The real light, which shines on everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him. Yet, the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He went to his own people, and his own people didn’t accept him. 12 However, he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. 13 These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way—from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
14 The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness[b] and truth.
15 (John declared the truth about him when he said loudly, “This is the person about whom I said, ‘The one who comes after me was before me because he existed before I did.’”)
16 Each of us has received one gift after another because of all that the Word is. 17 Laws were given through Moses, but kindness and truth came into existence through Yeshua Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. God’s only Son, the one who is closest to the Father’s heart, has made him known.
John Prepares the Way(A)
19 This was John’s answer when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 John didn’t refuse to answer. He told them clearly, “I’m not the Messiah.”
21 They asked him, “Well, are you Elijah?”
John answered, “No, I’m not.”
Then they asked, “Are you the prophet?”
John replied, “No.”
22 So they asked him, “Who are you? Tell us so that we can take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John said, “I’m a voice crying out in the desert, ‘Make the way for the Lord straight,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
24 Some of those who had been sent were Pharisees. 25 They asked John, “Why do you baptize if you’re not the Messiah or Elijah or the prophet?”
26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Someone you don’t know is standing among you. 27 He’s the one who comes after me. I am not worthy to untie his sandal strap.”
28 This happened in Bethany on the east side of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.
A psalm by David.
1 I will sing about mercy and justice.
O Yahweh, I will make music to praise you.
2 I want to understand the path to integrity.
When will you come to me?
I will live in my own home with integrity.
3 I will not put anything wicked in front of my eyes.
I hate what unfaithful people do.
I want no part of it.
4 I will keep far away from devious minds.
I will have nothing to do with evil.
5 I will destroy anyone who secretly slanders his neighbor.
I will not tolerate anyone with a conceited look or arrogant heart.
6 My eyes will be watching the faithful people in the land
so that they may live with me.
The person who lives with integrity will serve me.
7 The one who does deceitful things will not stay in my home.
The one who tells lies will not remain in my presence.
8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked people in the land
to rid Yahweh’s city of all troublemakers.
13 Even while laughing a heart can ache,
and joy can end in grief.
14 A heart that turns from God becomes bored with its own ways,
but a good person is satisfied with Yahweh’s ways.