But first, the usual bullshit... the Israelites "sin" and are generally "evil," God gets pissed and sends a bunch of people to attack them. The Ammonites in particular are being a nuisance in Gilead, and the people there decide that, for whatever reason, they absolutely need Jephthah to lead the attack against them. Some time ago, Jephthah's brothers chased him away because his mother was a prostitute (obviously), but these people win him to their cause by saying he gets to be leader of Gilead if he'll do it.
So Jephthah and the leader of the Ammonite army exchange some messages... Jephthah wants to know why the Ammonites are attacking Gilead, they say it's because the Israelites stole their land back when they first left Egypt and they want it back. Jephthah says, "We didn't take your land, our god gave it to us! Why don't you just take whatever your god gives you, and be happy with that!" No problem with that, clearly. Oh, your god gave you the same land that our god gave us? Now I'm at a complete loss for what to do, I guess we should just bludgeon and stab each other to death now.
So that's what they do. Right before the battle, Jephthah makes this promise to God:
If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.What a fucking moron. Maybe it was way more common back then to have, like, goats or chickens coming out of your door to greet after a hard day's battle, but isn't much more likely to be his wife or daugther? Or maybe a servant? Some sort of human, for the burnt sacrifice? Hmm.
Anyway, the Israelites win the battle and Jephthah goes home. And guess who comes out of the house first? His only daughter! Surprise! He allows her to go off into the woods with her friends for two months to mourn her virginity, or something. I figured this was a flimsy pretext she came up with to get away, and it worked! Run, girl, run! But no, for some stupid reason she comes back to her stupid, murderous father, and "he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin." Well goodie, at least she was a virgin. What the fuck does that have to do with anything.
Great biblical morals in this story. Jephthah murders his daughter as a human sacrifice to God, and God doesn't say anything about it whatsoever, meaning that he either approved or wasn't paying attention. Either way, I'm disgusted. As usual.
Here's a great video about this story:
After that, Jephthah leads another battle against Ephraim, for some reason. They won (even though Jephthah is fresh out of daughters to murder) and killed everyone who lived there, including the one guy who tried to pretend he was from somewhere else, but he couldn't pronounce "Sibboleth" correctly. Then Jephthah dies and it lists a few people who ruled after him. Very exciting.