JEPHTHAH, the son of Gilead, was a mighty man of valour.
He was a soldier of fortune who had been cast off by his brothers and therefore lived apart from them in the land of Tob.
When the Ammonites made war against Israel,
the people turned to Jephthah
and asked him to be their captain and lead their armies.
This Jephthah agreed to do, but before going into battle he made a vow to the Lord. He said: "O God, if without fail you will deliver the children of Ammon into my hand, then when I return in peace to my own home,
I swear that I shall offer up to the Lord as a burnt offering whatsoever shall first come out of the door of my house to greet me."
Then Jephthah went forth to battle
and the Lord delivered the Ammonites into his power.
He smote them from Aroer to Minnith and the plain of the vineyards,
and destroyed them utterly.
After the battle he went back to Mizpah and as he approached his house,
his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and dances.
She was his only child and he loved her more than all things of the world.
When he saw her Jephthah rent his garments and cried out in despair:
"Alas, my daughter, what have you done to me?
For I have pledged my word to the Lord and I cannot go back on it."
And he told her what he had done.
His daughter answered:"No, Father, you cannot break your oath since the Lord has given you the victory over the Ammonites.
You must do unto me as you promised.
But grant me one favour, let me live for two months, that I may go with my maids and weep over my youth and mourn for the children that will
never be mine."
"Go," said her father.
So Jephthah's daughter and her maidens went into the mountains,
and all together they bewailed her sad fate.
But when the two months were up she came back to her father's house
and he fulfilled his oath and offered her up as a sacrifice to the Lord.
( Link to free online Bible to view where this event takes place in the Bible )