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What did Jephthah do with his daughter?

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There has been some discussion concerning "positivity" in another thread. Though I disagree with twisting the Word of God to support some "name it, claim it" agenda, I do think we should always be careful to interpret scripture in a positive light of the overall theme of God's Truth and His nature, comparing "scripture with scripture" of course. So I ask you, personally, two questions: #1 What did Jephtha do with his daughter and #2 Why was God OK with it? Please explain why, with scripture.

 

Judges 11

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.

36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

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1 hour ago, heartstrings said:

There has been some discussion concerning "positivity" in another thread. Though I disagree with twisting the Word of God to support some "name it, claim it" agenda, I do think we should always be careful to interpret scripture in a positive light of the overall theme of God's Truth and His nature, comparing "scripture with scripture" of course. So I ask you, personally, two questions: #1 What did Jephtha do with his daughter and #2 Why was God OK with it? Please explain why, with scripture.

 

Judges 11

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.

36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

I don't think God was OK with it, at least, the passage says nothing of God being OK with it.  This proves the folly of vows.

Judges was a time when everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes and attaching God's name to it kind of like today.

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This is from David Cloud’s Way of Life Encyclopedia - (I take the position he mentions in his second paragraph):

Jephthah made a foolish and a rash vow which fell upon the head of his only daughter. It is not possible to know with absolute certainty what happened to the daughter. It is possible that he actually made a burnt sacrifice of her. God had forbidden this in the Law of Moses (Deut. 18:10), but the times of the Judges were lawless times and there was great ignorance of and disobedience to the Word of God among the Israelites (Judges 21:25). Also, Jephthah had grown up in the land of Tob, probably among idolaters (Judges 11:3), and there is no indication that he was a godly man who knew or lived by the Law of God. It was not uncommon for the idolaters of that day to offer their children as burnt sacrifices (2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10).

It is possible, though, that he sacrificed her marital happiness instead, meaning that he kept her as a virgin the rest of her life and sacrificed her in this way. It was her virginity that she bewailed with her friends. The fulfillment of the vow in verse 39 is described as “she knew no man.” This would indicate that she was allowed to live, but that she was never given in marriage. This would have been a great sacrifice, since she was Jephthah’s only child.

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8 hours ago, Jerry said:

This is from David Cloud’s Way of Life Encyclopedia - (I take the position he mentions in his second paragraph):

Jephthah made a foolish and a rash vow which fell upon the head of his only daughter. It is not possible to know with absolute certainty what happened to the daughter. It is possible that he actually made a burnt sacrifice of her. God had forbidden this in the Law of Moses (Deut. 18:10), but the times of the Judges were lawless times and there was great ignorance of and disobedience to the Word of God among the Israelites (Judges 21:25). Also, Jephthah had grown up in the land of Tob, probably among idolaters (Judges 11:3), and there is no indication that he was a godly man who knew or lived by the Law of God. It was not uncommon for the idolaters of that day to offer their children as burnt sacrifices (2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10).

It is possible, though, that he sacrificed her marital happiness instead, meaning that he kept her as a virgin the rest of her life and sacrificed her in this way. It was her virginity that she bewailed with her friends. The fulfillment of the vow in verse 39 is described as “she knew no man.” This would indicate that she was allowed to live, but that she was never given in marriage. This would have been a great sacrifice, since she was Jephthah’s only child.

The viewpoint of the first paragraph is not completely impossible according to the contextual flow of thought in the passage.  However, I myself also "lean" toward the viewpoint of the second paragraph.

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3 hours ago, Pastor Scott Markle said:

The viewpoint of the first paragraph is not completely impossible according to the contextual flow of thought in the passage.  However, I myself also "lean" toward the viewpoint of the second paragraph.

If the "contextual flow of thought in the passage" is he burned her up why lean the other way?

 

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4 hours ago, SureWord said:

If the "contextual flow of thought in the passage" is he burned her up why lean the other way?

 

I did not say that the contextual flow of thought in the passage IS (or necessitates) that he burned her up.  I said that his "burning her up" is not made completely impossible by the contextual flow of thought in the passage.  Or to communicate it another way - Nothing in the contextual flow of thought in the passage necessitates (or contextually proves) that he did not "burn her up."  However, I believe that there are enough "contextual signals" in the passage to allow for the second viewpoint; and to be honest I find it hard (emotionally, probably) to believe that Scripture would not include some more negative or condemning word about the act if he actually did "burn her up."  (Note: Considering how hard I seek to emphasize grammatical and contextual details for understanding any portion of Scripture, I am also seeking to be as honest as possible concerning my own "emotion" in relation to the matter in question.)

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I agree, brother Scott. If he did offer her as a burnt sacrifice, I believe the Word of God would have included more of a warning. God doesn’t typically get vague when it comes to abominable sins man commits (vague in description, not vague in condemnation of it).

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22 minutes ago, Jerry said:

I agree, brother Scott. If he did offer her as a burnt sacrifice, I believe the Word of God would have included more of a warning. God doesn’t typically get vague when it comes to abominable sins man commits (vague in description, not vague in condemnation of it).

Where did God condemn the sins of Samson? He killed himself with the help of God and he was included into the "Hall of Faith". How 'bout Noah getting drunk? How 'bout God's warning to Lot who was called a righteous man? The whole book of Judges is prior to the time of the prophets so it's not like they had a lot of light from God.

There's nothing vague about the passage. He burnt her upon an altar as the Baalites that surrounded and infiltrated the Israelites would have done. It fits perfectly with the whole narrative of apostasy in Judges.

I think we are hesitant to admit that many of the figures in the OT that did great things for God also committed great wickedness too.

We forget also how willing Abraham was to sacrifice Issac believing that God would raise him up again.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, SureWord said:

He burnt her upon an altar as the Baalites that surrounded and infiltrated the Israelites would have done.

Yet this statement is quite a bit more in declaration that the details of the passage actually give.  While you might accuse me of shying away from what seems to be the natural flow of thought in the passage (that he offered his daughter as a burnt sacrifice), I might also accuse you of claiming a bit more than God's Word actually says.  In fact, while you might even accuse me of contradicting the precise statements of the passage; I might also accuse your claim above as doing the very same.

Edited by Pastor Scott Markle
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Posted (edited)
sin·gu·lar
/ˈsiNGɡyələr/
  1. 1.
    GRAMMAR
    (of a word or form) denoting or referring to just one person or thing.
    "the third person singular form of the verb"
     
     
  2. 2.
    exceptionally good or great; remarkable.
    "the singular beauty of the desert"

 

 

I remembered, from watching StarTrek one time, that there was mention of a "singularity off the port bow'' or something like that. So, when reading Leviticus 27:2, and looking up the word "singular", I remembered right away and knew what it was referring to. You see I had always assumed that the word "singular" just meant "one". What it really means is something that stands alone, is "outstanding" or "extraordinary". Now I would like to interject here, that if someone says I'm getting theology from "StarTrek", then we can't discuss anything further. I'm only establishing the meaning of a word.

"Singular" is exactly what Jephtha's vow was; it was extraordinary and "over the top". Nowhere in the book of Leviticus do you find that God considered one of such "singular vows" to be "foolish", What God did do in the Book of Leviticus, however, was to make an exception or provision in case someone did utter such a vow. (Please read Leviticus Chapter 27). So I personally don't believe Jephtha's vow was "foolish" as is often said. The only thing which would have been foolish, according to the Word of God, would have been for Jephtha to fail to pay the vow. Which he did not fail to do.

Another thing, is that God says in His word that He does not "delight in sacrifices" anyway(Psalm 51:16). and He considers human sacrifice an abomination. Furthermore, all up to this point, Jephtha had trusted God, with extraordinary faith, to help him to defeat the enemies; why would God double-cross him by letting his daughter be the one to come out just to make to poor man have to slit her throat and burn her body for a gruesome sacrifice which God didn't really want anyway?

Jeptha was a "mighty man of valor" and not afraid to dive into the fray of hand combat with spears, arrows and swords(we're talking about a man badder than a Samurai), and at the same time a man of great love and faith. I personally believe Jephtha to be a man more inclined to slit his OWN throat before touching a hair on his beloved daughter; to save his own skin. After all; will the act of not paying a vow send a man to Hell? No. There are lesser consequences for that.

Lastly, there is no rebuke from God in the Word of God against Jephtha. All that is mentioned of Jephtha is his faith, as further mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. I believe his daughter simply remained a virgin for the rest of her life, dedicated to God, inm keeping with the provisions made in Leviticus Chapter 27. And though Jephtha had no earthly heir, besides his only virgin daughter, and had been kicked out of his own family for being illegitimate, he is now an heir of righteousness by faith. We'll meet him in Heaven.

Edited by heartstrings
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