Did Jephthah Actually Sacrifice His Daughter [3]

Wednesday 25th March 2020

Scripture:- Judges 11:1-40

Topic:- Did Jephthah Actually Sacrifice His Daughter [3]

Text:- Judges 11:36

G. Jephthah’s Only Child:
What is the meaning of this episode? Why the emphasis on her virginity, what happened to her at the end, and what is the lesson in it all?

H. The Tragedy of the Vow from Jephthah’s Perspective:
Jephthah’s horrified reaction serves to confirm just how much he had at stake in the successful outcome of the battle.
His first words, the emphatic repetition of the verb, ‘to bow’, ‘bend the knee’, ‘you have surely brought me down’, do not seem particularly concerned about the possible fate of his daughter.
Rather it is his own hopes that have been brought low, and perhaps this echos his desire to become the, for that ‘head’ too is now literally bowed.
Jephthah next casts the blame onto his daughter, describing her as his ‘troubler’ or ‘disturber’, just as King Ahab and Elijah will later mutually accuse one another. See I Kings 18:17-18.
But since the victory ensures that he will become, what else might her appearance have ‘disturbed’, beyond the fatherly love that he might be expected to have for her?
One clue would seem to lie in the earlier remark when the text first introduced her. She was Jephthah’s only (child), ‘apart from her he had neither a son nor daughter’. See Judges 11:34.
To lose her would mean the end of any long-term family or dynastic intentions that Jephthah might have. Born to a woman who was outside the family framework, he would now be unable to pass on his rehabilitated status to another generation. The effect of his vow, however it might be carried out, would rob him of his future.
I. The Tragedy of the Vow from Jephthah’s Daughter’s Perspective:
The material about the journey to the mountains with her companions to weep for her virginity, and statute that it evoked, suggest the possibility that she truly saw herself as dedicated to God according to the opening words of the vow, and as a consequence accepted a different fate from that of other women, namely a life of seclusion.
She sacrificed the most important priority affecting women in the Biblical world, the necessity of having children.[12]
Perhaps this should be connected as an extreme variant on the tradition of the nazirite as reflected in Numbers 6:1-21, where a man or woman may take a vow of abstinence for a limited period. Once a year she would receive a visit in her isolation from her companions who would ‘call out’ to her.

J. Conclusion:
Jephthah is a tragic figure. His problematic origins make the restoring of his status in society crucial to him. Yet, his story ends with no chance of his handing his improved status on to his progeny, since his own vow forces his daughter into permanent celibacy as a woman consecrated to the Lord.
Her story is double-edged. She is clearly troubled by giving up her future as a mother. She cries about it for two months, as do her friends, and all the women of Israel do so for four days every year until she dies.
Nevertheless, Jephthah’s daughter is also the symbol of what may have been a unique experiment in women’s spirituality, ‘belonging to the Lord’ as expressed in the opening words of Jephthah’s vow.
Moreover, when her father seems ambivalent about whether to go through with the vow, it is she who takes responsibility for her faith and pushes him to do what he swore. As such, perhaps she is not only a woman to be pitied, but one to be admired as well.

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.

Happy Mid-Week!

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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