This judge and warrior led the Israelites in battle against the Ammonites.
The tribe of Ephraim complained to Jephthah that he had not asked them to help him against the Ammonites, and they threatened to burn down his house. Jephthah replied that he had summoned them, but they had not reacted. Jephthah gathered an army of Gileadites and defeated the Ephraimites.
The Ephraimites tried to escape by crossing the river. The Gileadites, who controlled the approaches to the Jordan River, asked each one of the survivors if he was an Ephraimite.
If the man denied it, he was asked to say the word Shibboleth, a word that the Ephraimites pronounced as "Sibboleth." If the man didn't pronounce the word correctly, the Gileadites killed him. Approximately 42,000 Ephraimites were thus massacred. Jephthah judged Israel for six years, until his death. He was buried in one of the cities of the region of Gilead.
The tragedy of Jephthah's daughter is the origin of the Israeli custom of young girls in Israel expressing their sorrow for the girl for four days each year.
Did you like this article? MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.