0 Jephthah's Daughter (Judges 11)

Episode 91: Jephthah's daughter

(Judges 11)

Jephthah was the son of a harlot

11 1 Jephthah was a mighty man of valor. His father was Gilead, and his mother was a harlot.

2 When Gilead's other sons grew up, they said to Jephthah,

You won't inherit anything when our father dies, because you are the son of a strange woman.

3 So Jephthah ran away from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob.

4-5 Sometime later, the Ammonites made war against Israel, and the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob.

6 They said to Jephthah,

Come be our captain and help us fight the Ammonites.

7 Jephthah said to them,

You hated me and threw me out of my father's house.

Now you come and ask me to help you fight in your war?

8 They replied, "Yes but if you help us fight against the Ammonites, we will make you our leader."

9 Jephthah said, "OK, I'll be your captain."

11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead.

The Ammonite massacre

29 The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and he vowed a vow to the Lord, saying,

30-31 If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands, I will sacrifice to you as a burnt offering whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return from battle.

32 Jephthah went to fight the Ammonites, and God delivered them into his hands.

33 And Jephthah smote twenty Ammonite cities with a very great slaughter.

Jephthah sacrifices his daughter to God (as a burnt offering)

34 When Jephthah came home, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and dances. She was his only child.

35 When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes, and said,

I made a promise to God. I must keep it.

36 Jephthah's daughter said unto him,

If you have made a promise to God, you must keep it.

God helped you slaughter the Ammonites, now you have to do what you promised you'd do.

37 But let me do one thing first. Let me be alone for two months to go up and down on the mountains and bewail my virginity with my friends.

38 Jephthah said to her, "Go."

And he sent her away for two months to bewail her virginity on the mountains.

39 At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did what he promised God he would do.

A few more words about this episode

I left out a series of boring letters between Jephthah and the Ammonite king (11:12-28).
Jephthah vowed a vow to the Lord (11:30-31)
The Bible says that a man who makes a vow to God must keep it. (Numbers 30:2, Episode 67)
Jephthah went to fight the Ammonites, and God delivered them into his hands. (11:32)
DWB: The Ammonite massacre
Jephthah did what he promised God he would do. (11:39)
Although apologists like to put the blame for this atrocity on Jephthah, he is praised in the New Testament, without any qualification, in Hebrews 11:32.
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