An Israelite ‘Judge’ for six years, probably in the century before the establishment of the monarchy of Saul (c. 1050 BCE). After a period of exile, Jephthah was recalled to Gilead by the elders and persuaded to lead an expedition against the marauding Ammonites. He accepted the responsibility but made a vow that if successful he would sacrifice to Yahweh whatever or whomever emerged first from his house to meet him (Judg. 11: 30–31). This proved to be his daughter. The vow took priority over his humanity and the girl was sacrificed after a delay of two months for lamentation for her virginity. The story is related as a rather shocking incident, which perhaps implies that human sacrifice practised amongst Israel's neighbours was normally unacceptable in Israel.

During an inter-tribal conflict with the Ephraimites (Judg. 12: 1–6) Jephthah instructed his men to use the word shibboleth, which their enemies could not pronounce, as a password (cf. Heb. 11: 32).