Judges 11:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 11:1, NIV: Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute.

Judges 11:1, ESV: Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. Gilead was the father of Jephthah.

Judges 11:1, KJV: Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

Judges 11:1, NASB: Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. And Gilead had fathered Jephthah.

Judges 11:1, NLT: Now Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior. He was the son of Gilead, but his mother was a prostitute.

Judges 11:1, CSB: Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father.

What does Judges 11:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The previous chapter ended with Israelite leaders in Gilead looking for someone to lead their fighters in battle against the invading Ammonites (Judges 10:17). Chapter 11 begins immediately to tell Jephthah's story, as he will be the answer to their question, "Who will begin to fight against the Ammonites?" (Judges 10:18).

Jephthah was from the region of Gilead, east of the Jordan River. In fact, his father bore the family name of Gilead. This would normally have given Jephthah a privileged status if it weren't for his mother. Jephthah's mother was a prostitute, meaning he was born through his father's immorality. Even if his father weren't criticized for that sin, Israelite culture would have considered any children from such a relationship to be less-than-legitimate (Judges 8:30–31; 9:18).

We're not told whether Jephthah's mother was an Israelite or a Canaanite woman. It's possible she was a temple prostitute, meaning that Jephthah's father may have visited her while participating in the worship of false gods. If she were an Israelite, the other Israelites would have seen her as an especially shameful woman. In either case, the son of a prostitute often loses all standing in that culture, no matter who his father might be.

Jephthah is described as a "mighty warrior," using the Hebrew phrase gibbor' ha'yil. An angel used the same phrase to describe Gideon (Judges 6:12) and by the writer of 1 Kings in reference to the accomplished general Naaman (2 Kings 5:1). It can refer to royalty or wealthy men, but that doesn't fit the context of Jephthah's life. As described here, Jephthah is a man of war (Judges 11:3, 32–33).