Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
LIX. (1) Yair was succeeded by Jephthah the Gileadite, who delivered the Israelites from the hands of the Ammonites. And Jephthah and all Israel prayed to God in Mizpah, saying, 'We pray Thee, O Lord, save us, and do not deliver Thy inheritance to the slaughter and Thy vineyard to be a spoil. Remember, we beseech Thee, the vine which Thou hast planted and which Thou hast brought up from Egypt.' Jephthah then sent messengers to Giteal (###), King of the Ammonites, saying, 'What dost thou want, since thou hast come to me?' etc.
(2) And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he went out to wage war against the Ammonites; and he made a vow unto the Lord, saying, 'If Thou wilt deliver
the Ammonites into my hand, then that which cometh forth from my house to meet me on my peaceful return from the Ammonites shall be the Lord's, and I shall offer it to God as a burnt-offering.' And Jephthah smote the Ammonites so that they were humbled before the Israelites. When Jephthah returned to Mizpah, behold, all the virgins and women came forth with timbrels and dances to meet him, and his daughter, the only child he had, went in front of the others and was the first to greet him.
(3) When, however, he saw her, he rent his garments, saying, 'Alas! my daughter, thou hast sorely grieved and troubled me. Who will put my heart and my flesh in one pan of the scale to see it go down? for thou hast grieved me sorely at the feast in honour of my victories in battle, for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and now I am not able to retract.'
(4) Then said his daughter Seelah (###), 'Why dost thou grieve for my death, since the Lord hath wrought vengeance for thee upon thine enemies? Remember our forefathers, one of whom offered up his son as a burnt-offering, and the offerer and the offered were both accepted by God. Therefore, my father, do unto me as thou hast spoken. But before I die I will ask thee a favour. Grant me two months’ liberty, that I may during that time pray unto Him to whom I return my soul. I shall go upon the mountains and sojourn among the hills; I shall tread the clefts of the rock and lament my virginity, I and my companions; there I shall shed my tears and thus soften the grief of my youth. The trees of the field shall weep for me, and the wild beasts of the fields shall mourn for me; but I do not grieve for my death, nor do I grieve that I must give up my soul on account of the vow which my father made to sacrifice me as a holocaust to God. The one thing I fear, however, is that the offering of my soul may not be accepted, that my death shall have been for nothing.'
(5) Her father having granted her request, she went forth
with her maidens and told the sages of her people, but they answered not a word. She then went up to the mount Tlag (###), and the Lord remembered her in the night, saying, 'Behold, I have closed the mouth of the sages of My people, so that they answered not the daughter of Jephthah; now her soul shall be accepted at her request, and her death shall be very precious in My sight, for the wisdom of the sage belongs to her.'
(6) Seelah, the daughter of Jephthah, then fell upon her mother's bosom, and went on the mountain of Tlag weeping, and bewailed her fate in these words, 'Hearken, O ye mountains, to the lamentation of my grief; mark, O ye hills, the tears of mine eyes; and ye clefts of the rocks, testify to the weeping of my soul. Alas! how has my soul been delivered to death! but not in vain; my words will be atoned for in heaven, and my tears shall be written on the firmament, for the father who has vowed to sacrifice his daughter did not have compassion on her. He did not listen to his princes, but said that he would confirm his vow by offering his only daughter. I have not beheld my bridal canopy, nor has the crown of my betrothal been completed. I have not been decked with the lovely ornaments of the bride who sits in her virginity, nor have I been perfumed with the myrrh and the sweet-smelling (odoriferous) aloe. (7) I have not been anointed with the oil of anointment that was prepared for me. Alas! O my mother, it was in vain that thou didst give me birth. Behold, thine only one is destined for the bridal chamber of the grave. Thou hast wearied thyself for me to no purpose. The oil with which I was anointed will be wasted, and the white garments with which I was clothed the moths will eat; the garlands of my crown with which thou hast exalted me will wither and dry up, and my garments of fine needlework in blue and purple the worm shall destroy. And now my friends will lament all the days of my mourning; the trees shall incline their branches and their shoots and weep for my youth. The beasts of the forest shall come together and trample upon my virginity,
for my years are cut off and the days of my life grow old in darkness.'
(8) It came to pass, at the end of two months, that she returned to her father. He then fulfilled the vow he had made, and the virgins of Israel buried her, and mourned for her, and from time immemorial the daughters of Israel have adhered to the custom of devoting four days in the year to Jephthah's daughter. At the time of the death of Jephthah's daughter Ercules committed suicide by throwing himself in the fire, and was consumed by the flames. (9) Ibṣan, of Bethlehem, succeeded Jephthah, and was followed by Elon the Zebulonite. About this time Alexander captured Helena (for his wife). (10) After Elon came Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite. During his reign the royal city of Troy was captured, and 406 years after its capture began the Olympiad, for after the victory of the Greeks they began to calculate their Olympiad, which consisted of four years, just as we calculate the date from the destruction of the temple. Then Menelaus and Helena came to Egypt, and in the third year after the capture of Troy Agnios reigned over Italy, where Janus, Saturnus, Ficus, and Faunus reigned. Three years after the capture of Troy—some say eight years—Aeneas ruled the empire, and during his reign there arose the city of Rome—i.e., the Latini, so called because the inhabitants spoke the Latin language. In the reign of Ahaz, King of Judah, two twin brothers were born, Remus and Romulus, who founded the great city. They were the first kings of Rome, and reigned in Rome thirty-eight years. (11) In the 'Shocher Tob' I have found it narrated that at the birth of these twins their mother died from the pangs of travail, and that God prepared a young she-wolf to suckle them until they were grown up. Romulus it was who built the city of Rome. At the end of the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah, Huma Pompilius (###) succeeded Romulus and reigned forty-one years. He added two months to the calendar year, viz., Januarius and Februarius (###), which were not included in the
[paragraph continues] Roman year, which originally consisted of ten months. At the end of the reign of Menasseh, King of Judah, Tullus Ostilius succeeded Numa, and reigned for thirty-two years. This Tullus, King of Rome, was the first person to clothe himself in purple robes.
(12) We now return to the judges. Many people say that in the days of Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite, occurred the incidents of Gibeah and Micah. Micah acted just as his mother bade him. He made for himself three images of man, and three of calves, and the likeness of an eagle, lion, and serpent. Whoever desired to obtain sons had to pray to the images of man; whoever desired riches had to entreat the eagle; whoever wished for strength had to entreat the lion; whoever desired sons and daughters had to beseech the calves; whoever desired long life had to entreat the serpent; and whoever desired something of everything had to entreat the dove. Thus all the Israelites went astray, forsook the Lord, and worshipped these idols, so that the Lord sold them to the nations of the earth; but when they at intervals repented the Lord visited them.
(13) It came to pass, when the Israelites, on account of the concubine who was found dead in Gibeah, waged war against the tribe of Dan (!) that they were smitten by the Danites (!), so that on that day 22,000 men of them were destroyed. The Israelites, then going up, wept before the Lord until the evening, and said, 'Let us ask of the Lord, saying, "What is this iniquity through which we have stumbled?"' Thus they asked the Lord, saying, 'Shall we still continue to wage war against Benjamin our brother?' And the Lord replied, 'Go up, and I shall afterwards make known to you whereby ye have stumbled.' On the second day they accordingly went forth again to battle with Benjamin, and there fell of the Israelites 18,000 more men. The Israelites then went up to Bethel, for there the ark of the Lord was placed, and on that day they wept and fasted until the evening, and they offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings unto the Lord.
(14) Then Pineḥas, the son of Eleazar the priest, prayed unto God, saying, 'O Lord God, if what we have done was considered right in Thine eyes, why hast Thou caused us to fall into the hands of our brother? And if it was evil in Thy sight what these have done, why have we fallen before them? I pray Thee, tell Thy servant in whom this iniquity rests and we shall set it right, for, behold, I remember what I have done. In my jealousy I pierced Zimri with the sword, and Thou didst deliver me from his people, and didst slay of them 24,000 men. Now Thou didst say to the tribes of Israel, "Go up and fight with Benjamin."'
(15) The Lord heard the entreaty of Pineḥas, and said, 'The Israelites showed their zeal for Me in this wickedness which was committed (in Gibeah), but they do not show it against Micah and his idols, who caused all the Israelites to go astray after them. Therefore, I was jealous, and wreaked my vengeance on them, for they were astounded at the one sin of the concubine and wanted to root it out, but they did not root out the worshippers of Micah's idols. Now, let the Israelites go up once more against Benjamin, and tomorrow I shall deliver him into their hands.' (16) Thus the Lord smote Benjamin before the Israelites, so that there fell 18,000 men. The total number of the Benjaminites that were slain was 25,000; 600 of them fled to the cleft of Rimmon and escaped. The Israelites then had pity upon their brother Benjamin, and made peace with those that remained, restoring them to their inheritance, where they built cities and dwelt therein; and the Israelites went each one to his tribe and his inheritance.
(17) Now, the days of Pineḥas drew nigh to die, and the Lord said to him, 'To-day thou art 120 years old, which are the years of a man's life; now arise and get thee to My mountain, where thou shalt remain many days. I shall command the ravens and the eagles to feed thee, but do not go down until the end has arrived. Then thou shalt close the heavens, and at thy command they shall again be opened. And then thou shalt be lifted up to the (Divine) place, where thy fathers have been before
thee, and there thou shalt remain until I remember the world.' And Pineḥas, the son of Eleazar the priest, did as God had commanded him.