Judges 11:29-40

Jephthah's promise

29 Then the Lord's Spirit took hold of Jephthah. Jephthah travelled through the land of Gilead and of Manasseh. He arrived at Mizpah in Gilead and he prepared to fight against the Ammonites. 30 Jephthah promised the Lord, ‘Please let us win the battle against the Ammonites. 31 Then, when I return home safely, I will give you a burnt offering. Whatever is first to come out through the door of my house as I arrive, I will offer it to you as a sacrifice.’

32 Then Jephthah went to attack the Ammonites. The Lord put them under his power. 33 Jephthah destroyed them all the way from Aroer to Minnith. He took 20 Ammonite cities, as far as Abel Karamim. He completely destroyed them! So the Israelites had complete power over the Ammonites.

34 After that, Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah. As he arrived, his daughter came out to meet him. She was dancing and making music with a tambourine. She was Jephthah's only child. He had no other son or daughter. 35 When Jephthah saw her, he was so upset that he tore his clothes. He said, ‘Oh no! My daughter! You have made me very sad. I made a serious promise to the Lord and I must do what I promised.’

36 She said to her father, ‘You have made a promise to the Lord. You must do to me what you told him you would do. The Lord gave you the power to punish your enemies, the Ammonites. So you must do what you promised him. 37 But please allow me to do this one thing. Let me walk in the hills with my friends for two months. I need time to be sad because I will die before I can marry a man.’

38 Jephthah said, ‘You may go.’ He sent her away from home for two months. She and her friends walked in the hills. They wept together because she would never marry. 39 After two months she returned to her father, Jephthah. He did what he had promised to the Lord. His daughter never married. 40 Because of that, the young women of Israel now go into the hills for four days every year. They do that to remember the daughter of Jephthah, the man from Gilead.