Jephthah - Northern Judges: A Mirror-Reading with the Mira Scriptura Methodology


The Jephthah Cycle is primarily concerned with forming a strong Israelite military force by showing that Jephtah was an Israelite military hero.   If you’d like a less technical overview, please check out my podcast episode on the Jephtah Cycle.  If you’re not familiar with the Northern Book of Judges and it’s cycles, be sure to check out all of the podcast episodes in that series. I used Tzemah Yoreh's work as the basis for my Northern Book of Judges Source.


Please note that the argumentation below is that of the opposing narrative that the Northern Book of Judges author (N) was addressing and is opposed to the N narrative itself.

Color Code:
Black: These statements are mirrors or echoes
Blue: These statements are an inferred cause/effect of a mirror/echo or connects two mirrors/echoes
Green: These statement have no corresponding mirrors or echoes but have supporting (e.g. alternates, denials) statements that imply them.
Orange: Words within a statement that could be variations of the opposing narrative

Italics are causal connectors (e.g. “because”)
[Brackets] are replacements for pronouns or changing tense for better flow.

For more information about mirrors, echoes, supporting categories and my methodology, please visit this post.

Aspect #1 Opposing Narrative      

1. [Jephthah] was not head and commander over [the Gileadites]
2. because Jephthah [was not a] Gileadite
3. because [Jephthah did] not inherit anything in [Gilead's] house
4. because [Jephthah] lived in the land of Tob
5. because [Jephthah] was a mighty warrior and Outlaws collected around Jephthah and raided Gilead

Aspect #1 N Response With Commentary

1. N was trying to integrate the descendants of Jephthah into the tribe of Gilead.  This may be because of an alliance much like how N integrated the descendants of Gideon into Israel.  N is looking to create a strong military Israelite force, and the descendants of Jephthah may have been good at war, so integrating them into Israel would be a move towards that goal.

2. If Jephthah wasn’t a Gileadite, then N would need to explain how he could have been head and commander over them.  N does this by saying he was a son of a prostitute and was driven out by his family.

3. If Jephthah was a Gileadite, he would have had an inheritance. Being a son of a prostitute would have excluded him from an inheritance but still made him a Gileadite.

4. If Jephthah was a Gileadite, why was he living in the land of Tob?  Again, N says that his family had driven Jephthah out of Gileadite territory.

5. Not only was Jephthah not a Gileadite, the opposing narrative claimed that he raided the Gileadites.  N drops that detail from his narrative, and only says that he was a raider.

Aspect #2 Opposing Narrative

1. Yahweh is not the Elohim of Israel

Aspect #2 N Response With Commentary

1. N credits Yahweh with the victory over the Ammonites.  The elders of Gilead also call on Yahweh to be their witness in their agreement with Jephthah.

Aspect #3 Opposing Narrative

1. The Israelites are not strong at war

Aspect #3 N Response With Commentary

1. N provides yet another example of how the Israelites defeated their enemies.

Biblical References

The spreadsheet embedded below is a list of verses used to compose the argumentation above.  For further information about how these statements were categorized, please visit this post.