1. This can only indicate that Jephthah is a man of substantial means and power. While of course serious and reprehensible, human sacrifice is not the only mark against Jephthah. Even the sin of child sacrifice. However, this is answered by pointing out that Jephthah’s daughter was a willing volunteer for the vow, and so apparently did not desire redemption. The occasion became a national holiday. Jephthah's sacrifice of his daughter stands in stark contrast to the Binding of Isaac in the Book of Genesis, in which Abraham was about to perform a divinely ordered sacrifice of his son, when an angel of God directly intervened and stopped the sacrifice. Instead, Jephthah's daughter was the first one to meet him. Each Monday I'm going to try to maintain a series on this blog called "Digging Deeper." In these verses Jephthah vows that if the Lord gives him victory over the Ammonites, then he will sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord the first thing that comes out of his house to meet him upon his return. In support of the interpretation of a literal human sacrifice, both critics and some Christian apologists may point out that Jephthah says that he plans to turn the subject of his vow into a “burnt offering” (Judg. The Ladies’ Lament? Jdg) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools. Thank you for your help. Kaiser rejects this interpretation of the vow, on the grounds that Jephthah could simply have paid the monetary redemption price (27:4) and gotten his daughter back. Although critics of the Bible seem to find it objectionable whenever any biblical character is killed, the story of Jephthah and his daughter (Judg. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow." Some scholars believe that, instead of sacrificing his daughter, Jephthah merely dedicated her to the service of the Lord, perhaps in some fashion at the Tabernacle or in some other means. But this argument is unnecessary if Jephthah’s vow was made publicly. This article first appeared in the Practical Hermeneutics column of the Christian Research Journal volume 39, number 04 (2016). How could God justify using Jephthah for his purposes when he has done such horrible things? Thus the mourning she does is for her impending life-long commitment to celibacy (not being married, not having children, not having the same fulfillment that others might have, etc. Obviously, to argue that Jephthah did not perform a physical sacrifice, we must in turn argue that “burnt offering” has some other nonliteral meaning. Jephthah's daughter mourns her virginity. It is also used in Ezekiel 40:26, where it is universally translated as “to go up” within the context of a staircase. He was buried in one of the cities of the region of Gilead. It is the perpetual thorn in their side. If his friends, neighbors, and family heard the vow, then he expected that if a human came to him from his house (whether a family member or a servant), he or she would do so intentionally. And God's grace can and does cover them all through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Matt. 2. The public nature of the vow indicates that the end of the vow was not going to be some form of ritual immolation, regardless of who or what stepped out of the doorway of Jephthah’s house. There are several reasons that many have arrived at this interpretation. A third piece of evidence for this interpretation is that the Israelites used the occasion as a type of holiday. I affirm, however, that God abhors human sacrifice, and that it is prohibited in the Old Testament Law, and that the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter was not pleasing to God. ), and not her death. As head of a band of freebooters (roving raiders) (11:3), and despite having the social stigma of being an outcast from his family (11:1–2), his reputation for war is so great that the elders of Gilead lay aside all of this and ask him to lead their military. There are several reasons why I believe this to be the case with Jephthah. It is hardly probable that Jephthah’s young daughter had some sort of latent death wish that made her want to be the victim of a human sacrifice. There seems to be a good amount of contextual evidence for this. When seen in this light, the proposal that something so anathema in Israelite culture as human sacrifice is involved seems both unnecessary and preposterous. This meant that the Israelites regarded Yahweh - the true God - as being pretty much one in the same, or at least on the same level, as all the other gods that "existed." But this argument is unnecessary if Jephthah’s vow was made publicly. Could Jephthah have had some other form of “ascent” in mind for his vow? In Hebrews 11.32 we read that Jephthah's faith is commended. In one of the cities of Gilead.--The Hebrew only says, "in cities of Gilead." The literal meaning of the word used (‘olah) is ascent, and does not by itself carry the semantic connotation of burning. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite.Better, And Jephthah the Gileadite died. The only way to ensure that a woman never had to do this particular work was for her to remain celibate. Israel had become so influenced by other cultures and religions that their religion was virtually indistinguishable from other religions. Rather than justify Jephthah by diminishing the severity of his sin, I think an honest accounting of this text rather serves to magnify the grace of God. The story of Jephthah is indeed a tragic one, though not in the way critics suppose it to be. mean "one of the cities of Gilead," as in Genesis 19:29 "the cities in the which Lot dwelt" means "in one of which Lot dwelt." In Jephthah's mind, Yahweh and Chemosh are on the same level, so then to him it stands to reason that Yahweh would approve of human sacrifice just like Chemosh did. The primary reason that some believe that Jephthah didn't actually kill his daughter as a sacrifice is because the Old Testament clearly prohibits the practice of human sacrifice. In Jephthah's mind, Yahweh and Chemosh are on the same level, so then to him it stands to reason that Yahweh would approve of human sacrifice just like Chemosh did. But, still wanting to be faithful to his vow, Jephthah "sacrificed" his daughter to the Lord by dedicating her to his service for the rest of her life. Hopefully this series will be helpful to some, and interesting to those who want to dig deeper into the text. Furthermore, vows were made publicly so that others would hear it and thereby be able to testify to its later fulfillment or else call the maker of the vow to account if he or she failed to fulfill it. It states, ". It’s the support of friends like you that enables CRI to keep these articles FREE. But does he, really? This is blasphemy. I believe that syncretistic thinking led Jephthah to make his tragic, profane, and detestable offering. Digging Deeper: Did Jephthah Really Sacrifice His Daughter. No doubt Jephthah assumed that one of his animals would be the first thing out of his house to meet him, but this was tragically not the case. It is almost always the case that there is more that could be said on every text that I preach at Riverview, and sometimes time constraints don't allow me to say everything that could be said about a particular text we are studying together. Jephthah -- 'He opens', a Gileadite, also a city of Judah, Conjunctive waw | Verb - Qal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular, To judge, pronounce sentence, to vindicate, punish, to govern, to litigate, Israel -- 'God strives', another name of Jacob and his desc, Conjunctive waw | Verb - Nifal - Consecutive imperfect - third person masculine singular, Preposition-b | Noun - feminine plural construct, Gilead -- a region in Palestine, also the name of several Israelites, Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, OT History: Judges 12:7 Jephthah judged Israel six years (Jd Judg. 1. The plain reading of the text indicates that Jephthah carried through with his original vow. Second, Gideon appears to make a religious symbol that, at least to some extent, is to represent God or his will (Judges 8.27). It also was intended to accrue honor and recognition to the person who made the vow. For this reason I thought it might be helpful to pick up some of those scraps on Monday and try to learn from them. Her death might even be regarded as an act of martyrdom, not unlike Samson’s willingness to die for the sake of his God and his people. 2. Jephthah's spiritual life was syncretistic. Biblical scholar Walter Kaiser notes that interpreters up through the Middle Ages believed that Jephthah had sacrificed his daughter, and argues for the same view. If this is true, and if his thinking was so deluded so as to bring about his other sins recorded in scripture, then it certainly isn't that much of a leap to think that he was led by his faulty thinking to the sacrificing of his own daughter. James Patrick Holding is president of Tekton Apologetics Ministries and the author of Scripture and Slavery (Amazon Kindle, 2014). It is not the story of a man whose foolish vow led him directly to disobey one of God’s most solemn commandments. Invariably, some things get left on the cutting room floor. When Jephthah's pronouncement is made ("Alas, my daughter! They mix themselves into other cultures and religious thinking all the time. The tragedy of Jephthah’s daughter is the origin of the Israeli custom of young girls in Israel expressing their sorrow for the girl for four days each year. And she knew no man." The first clue is not explicit in the text, but it is indisputably implied by the defining contours of biblical culture. Others, however, have not found this evidence persuasive, and I count myself among them. She Who Has Eyes, Let Her See: A look at Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis, BoJack Horseman: Loneliness in a Godless Universe, HBO’s Westworld and the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, Halloween for Christians: Oppression or Opportunity, Infiltrated: Recognizing and Responding to Occultism in Your Church. 12:31). In his defense, Jephthah might point out that it was actually his daughter who insisted that he fulfill his vow to God (Judges 11:36) perhaps mitigating to some extent his responsibility. The first installment in this series will center around Judges 11.1-12.7. The most shocking and controversial portion of the story is verses 11.30-40. A Public Vow. Rather, it is an account of how the one chosen to lead Israel was not even able to refrain from taking a hasty oath he would later regret (cf. It would have been heard (or heard about) by his friends, his neighbors, and his family, including his own daughter. Had Jephthah actually sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering, it is very unlikely that Israel would have marked such a barbaric and godless occasion on their yearly calendars.
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