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Chapter XXVI.

But on the death of Gideon, his son Abimelech, whose mother was a concubine, having slain his brothers with the concurrence of a multitude of wicked men, and especially by the help of the chief men among the Shechemites, took possession of the kingdom. And he, being harassed by civil strife, while he pressed hard upon his people by war, attempted to storm a certain tower, into which they, after losing the town, had betaken themselves by flight. But, as he approached the place without sufficient caution, he was slain by a stone which a woman threw, after holding the government for three years. To him succeeded Thola, who reigned two and twenty years. After him came Jair; and after he had held the chief place for a like period of twenty-two years, the people, forsaking God, gave themselves up to idols. On this account, the Israelites were subdued by the Philistines and Ammonites, and remained under their power for eighteen years. At the end of this period, they began to call upon God; but the divine answer to them was that they should rather invoke the aid of their images, for that he would no longer extend his mercy to those who had been so ungrateful. But they with tears confessed their fault, and implored forgiveness; while, throwing away their idols, and earnestly calling upon God, they obtained the divine compassion, though it had been at first refused. Accordingly, under Jephtha as general, they assembled in great numbers for the purpose of recovering their liberty by arms, having first sent ambassadors to King Ammon, begging that, content with his own territories, he should keep from warring against them.  But he, far from declining battle, at once drew up his army. Then Jephtha, before the signal for battle was given, is said to have vowed that, if he obtained the victory, the person who first met him as he returned home, should be offered to God as a sacrifice. Accordingly, on the enemy being defeated, as Jephtha was returning home, his daughter met him, having joyfully gone forth with drums and dances to receive her father as a conqueror. Then Jephtha, being overwhelmed with sorrow, rent his clothes in his affliction, and made known to his daughter the stringent p. 84 obligation of his vow. But she, with a courage not to be expected from a woman, did not refuse to die; she only begged that her life might be spared for two months, that she might before dying have the opportunity of seeing the friends of her own age. This being done, she willingly returned to her father, and fulfilled the vow to God. Jephtha held the chief power for six years. To him Esebon succeeded, and having ruled in tranquillity for seven years, then died. After him, Elon the Zebulonite ruled for ten years, and Abdon also for eight years; but, as their rule was peaceful, they performed nothing which history might record.

Next: Chapter XXVII.