Kenneth M. Craig, «Bargaining in Tov (Judges 11,4-11): The Many Directions of So-called Direct Speech», Vol. 79 (1998) 76-85
This article explores the subject of speech as mediated discourse in the bargaining scene between the elders of Gilead and Jephthah in the land of Tov (Judg 11,4-11). The episode consists of the narrator's frame in vv. 4-5 and 11 and five insets wherein the elders initiate and conclude the dialogue (elders- Jephthah-elders-Jephthah-elders). The narrator informs us that the elders approach Jephthah with a plan of taking (xql) him from the land of Tov. The taking is accomplished through speech that the narrator quotes, and the perspectival shifts in narration and quotation demonstrate the Bible's art of diplomacy. The speeches are tightly woven with the narrator interrupting only to shift our attention from one side to the other in this tit-for-tat interchange. But even here, the narrator is not completely effaced. The reception acts are staged in a way that remind us of the presence of all sides in this exchange. The bargaining thus proceeds through filtered words, and the resulting insets call attention to the web of perspectives and competing interests, the offers and counter offers in the world of give- and-take, and, from our side, the fun of it all.
make him Governor (#)r). The first offer denotes a military leader whose tenure is limited by the time of war. This latest offer of #)r is for political office and assures a term lasting indefinitely, beyond the restoration of peace times 9. Indeed, Jephthah will hold power "for six years" (12,7). They had originally hoped to secure Jephthah's services for less, but, fight with us now, they implore him, and be established as our chief political officer later. Whereas they had originally proposed that he be their General that they might fight, they now reverse the order: he will fight and then become governor. In the first instance, a title would be given before battle. Now after (re)turning to him, the new, bigger prize will be awarded subsequently. Having failed in their opening petition, they now duplicate to the letter the commanders' original forecast that the one who fights the Ammonites shall be Governor over all the inhabitants of Gilead (10,18). If he accepts their counter-offer, he will be ruler over the entire region with authority in peace times as well, just as Saul will later be head (#)r) over all the tribes of Israel (1 Sam 15,17).
But the elders' speech is also significant for what it omits. They do not specify that he must win the battle in order to secure the title, and, while they have offered him military and civil leadership, they stop short of reinstating him as heir (cf. vv. 2 and 7). With talks in progress, no need to introduce the subject of defeat in battle, and they can always introduce reinstatement in a possible future round. Perhaps the one who has heard that he will not inherit anything from his father's house (v. 2) will be persuaded by this latest offer of a perpetual office. In dialogue, the elders are for the moment content with returning to their earlier strategy of emphasizing unity while carrying the tactics even further: you may go with us, you shall be for us Governor over all. This repetitious call for unity, they remind him, is for the single purpose of waging a successful campaign against the Ammonites.
The negotiating door that Jephthah appeared to close in his first response to the elders in v. 7 is opened with the first word he speaks in v. 9: If you turn me to fight against the Ammonites, and Yhwh gives them over to me, I myself will be your Governor. "If" allows for the possibility that a deal may be struck. In the first round he had used their word "now" (ht() in his response. In the second exchange they made the point that they "turn" to him, and he responds, if you "turn" me. This double borrowing suggests a strategy on Jephthah's part. He takes their words and transforms them to his liking: You wish to talk with me about "now," but