Did Jephthah Actually Sacrifice His Daughter [1]

Monday 23rd March 2020 Devotion

Scripture:- Judges 11:1-40

Topic:- Did Jephthah Actually Sacrifice His Daughter [1]

Text:- Judges 11:36

The story of Jephthah’s daughter is famous as an example of child sacrifice, yet certain clues in the biblical text imply she may have suffered a very different fate.

A. The Case against Jephthah:
If Jephthah were to be arrested for the killing of his daughter, the prosecutor would have some evidence, though largely circumstantial.
First there is his infamous and rash vow to God, that if God granted him victory over the Ammonites then the one who came out from the door of his house to greet him on his return would belong to the Lord and he would offer that person, or possibly animal, up as a burnt offering. See Judges 11:30-31.
Indeed Jephthah wins the victory, but the first to greet him with timbrels and dancing on his return is his daughter.
The final comment of the biblical text on the subject is the laconic statement that Jephthah fulfilled his vow, though the text gives no details of her death.
In his defense, Jephthah might point out that it was actually his daughter who insisted that he fulfill his vow to God, perhaps mitigating to some extent his responsibility. See Judges 11:36.
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.

B. Moving Beyond Summaries:
The Narrator’s Point of View. The problem with this, or any other brief summary of the story, is that it leaves out so much of the material that the biblical narrator has considered important to present. Such details need to be taken seriously.

C. The Story in Context:
The story begins at the end of the previous chapter of the book of Judges. (It is always important to remember that chapter numbers were first inserted into Bible in the thirteenth century, and do not reflect a Jewish division of the text.
In Judges 10:17,18. We learn that the Ammonites are besieging Gilead. In response, the leaders of Gilead decide that ‘the man who begins to wage war against the Ammonites will become the head (rosh) of all the inhabitants of Gilead.’
Jephthah is introduced in chapter 9 as “an able warrior,” in biblical terms a high accolade. Jephthah’s misfortune is to be the son of a prostitute. His father, Gilead, had a number of sons from his wife and when these boys grew up they drove Jephthah away so that he would not inherit from his father.

Jephthah was forced to flee and settled in the “land of Tov.” There gathered around him other similarly displaced men, the biblical term being, literally ‘empty’, presumably landless or otherwise without a place in society.
Jephthah becomes the Leader of Gilead. When the incursions of the Ammonites become more pressing, the Elders of Gilead invite Jephthah, who has presumably developed a reputation as a warrior, to come back from the land of Tov and fight on their behalf. In the negotiation that follows, something of Jephthah’s anger at his previous treatment, but also his personal ambitions are revealed. See Judges 11:6-10.
Presumably, Jephthah knew the earlier decision of the leaders of Gilead to make the one who begins to fight against the Ammonites the “head of all the inhabitants of Gilead.
Thus, when they offer Jephthah the role of, a mere military figure, he refuses and the elders recognize that he is holding out for the higher rank of and are quick to offer it.
Presumably, the title would represent his complete rehabilitation as a leading figure of the society, despite his origins. This would explain what was personally at stake for him in this transaction and hence his subsequent attempt to guarantee success through his vow to God.

Prayer Point:- Oh Lord God, help me not to make hash decision that I won’t be able to fulfill, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Have A Lovely Monday!

Pastor Timothy Ogundele-Jesu

Pastor Timothy Ogundele-Jesu

Pastor Tim Ogundele_Jesu is a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an apostle by the grace of God. He has been used by God prominently in the area of salvation, healing, blessing, and especially deliverance.

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