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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings, History, Old Testament

The Judge Who Wanted Acceptance

Submitted by on Thursday, 18 August 2011No Comment

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Judges 11:29-39
  • Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 40
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:1-14

Jephtha’s Story


The selection from Judges takes us to the tragic story of Jephta’s daughter. Jephta was an illegitimate son and was forced to live away from home by his brothers who didn’t want him around. He lived in exile so to speak working as a kind of mercenary. Israel was then at war with the Ammonites and the Israelites wanted someone to lead them. They negotiated with Jephta who accepted. It was after all an opportunity to vindicate himself against his own family.

The Ammonites wanted the Israelites to restore to them the lands they have possessed. It is the same story that continues even now. The Ammonites were one of the original inhabitants of the place, after all, and the Israelites were seen as invaders and usurpers of the land. Against Ammon, Jephta asserts the story we already know from Exodus to Joshua.The Lord has given the land to the Israelites and they are staying.

Jephta really wanted a victory against the Ammonites, not really for the sake of the Lord, but for himself. And so he asks God for a victory in exchange of a sacrifice: the first person he will meet on the way home. There is nothing in Israelite faith that demands such a sacrifice. But perhaps the influence of the environment got the better of Jephta. He wanted to make sure that he had a victory. And so he did. When he got home, who was there to meet him but his only daughter. Jephta regretted the vow he made but his daughter advised him to go through with it. She requested however that she be given the time to mourn her virgnity. Virginity was perfected in motherhood; a woman is never complete until she has borne a child. Jeptha’s daughter who remains unnamed asked her father the permission to mourn over her unperfected womanhood. And we are told that in memory of this girl, there was a time in Israel when maidens used to leave their homes and commemorate Jephta’s daughter.


The full story of Jephta can be outlined as follows

  • The situation: Israel under the power of the Philistines and the Ammonites (10:6-9)
  • The Repentance of Israel (10:10-16)
  • The War against Ammon (10:17-18)
  • Jephta
    • The Illegitimate son of Gilead (11:1-3)
    • The invitation to Jephta (11:4-11)
  • Jephta and the Cause of Ammon (11:12-28)
  • Jephta’s Vow (11:29-31)
  • Jephta’s Victory (11:32-33)
  • Jephta’s Daughter
    • Jephta’s Daughter Meets Him (11:34-35)
    • Jephta’s Daughter on the Vow and Her Request (11:36-38)
    • The Daughter Sacrificed (11:39-40)
  • The War Against Ephraim (The Shibboleth Affair) (12:1-6)
  • Jeptha’s Death (12:7)

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

There are two parts in the parable. The first part is the wedding banquet which is really about the proclamation of the Kingdom and the refusal of the Jews to be part of it. And second, the parable of the wedding garment, which refers to an extra requirement for those who would participate in the meal of the Kingdom.

Judges 11:29-39
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
29Therefore the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephte, and going round Galaad, and Manasses, and Maspha of Galaad, and passing over from thence to the children of Ammon,
30He made a vow to the Lord, saying: If thou wilt deliver the children of Ammon into my hands,
31Whosoever shall first come forth out of the doors of my house, and shall meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord.
32And Jephte passed over to the children of Ammon, to fight against them: and the Lord delivered them into his hands.
33And he smote them from Aroer till you come to Mennith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel, which is set with vineyards, with a very great slaughter: and the children of Ammon were humbled by the children of Israel.
34And when Jephte returned into Maspha to his house, his only daughter met him with timbrels and with dances: for he had no other children.
35And when he saw her, he rent his garments, and said: Alas! my daughter, thou hast deceived me, and thou thyself art deceived: for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I can do no other thing.
36And she answered him: My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth to the Lord, do unto me whatsoever thou hast promised, since the victory hath been granted to thee, and revenge of thy enemies.
37And she said to her father: Grant me only this which I desire: Let me go, that I may go about the mountains for two months, and may bewail my virginity with my companions.
38And he answered her: Go. And he sent her away for two months. And when she was gone with her comrades and companions, she mourned her virginity in the mountains.
39And the two months being expired, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed, and she knew no man. From thence came a fashion in Israel, and a custom has been kept:
Matthew 22:1-14
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying:
2The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son.
3And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come.
4Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage.
5But they neglected, and went their own ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise.
6And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.
7But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city.
8Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy.
9Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage.
10And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests.
11And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment.
12And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? But he was silent.
13Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14For many are called, but few are chosen.

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