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Son of Gilead. But his mother was a harlot and Gilead's other sons drove him away lest he share in his father's inheritance. He became a warrior in the land of Tob and was recognized as a valiant soldier (Judges 11:1-3). So much so that when the Israelites were attacked by the Ammonites his people begged him to return home and become their leader (Judges 11:6-11). He assumed the leadership, begged Yahweh for help, and promised to offer a human sacrifice if he won. He achieved a great victory, but tragically, his only daughter fulfilled the condition he had set for the sacrifice and he felt obliged to live up to his promise by killing her even though Israelites considered a human sacrifice a violation of Yahweh's law (Judges 11:30-40). The latter apparently approved, however, because Jephthah won another great victory against the Ephraimites (Judges 12:1-6). For the next six years he became a judge in Israel and was highly respected. When he died he was buried in his home town of Mizpah, in the region of Gilead.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.