October 7th, 2009
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,
40That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
This is the story of Jephthah, from Judges 11. He wanted to kill many people and asked God to help him. He vowed to sacrifice whoever came out the door to greet him upon his return as a burnt offering, which he did. This is much like the story of Abraham and Isaac, except this time, God gets his sacrifice.
There is quite a bit of immorality going on in this one. First, God helps kill quite a few people, although I’m sure they were evil. Aren’t they always? Second, God accepts the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter as payment for this favor. Indeed if God is all-knowing, he would know it would be his virgin daughter who would come out to greet him. Why does God not stop him like he did with Abraham? Like many gods, God actually does request and perhaps even enjoy virgin sacrifice.
Any moral human being can agree that human sacrifice is absolutely unacceptable. How is it that Jephthah is such a vile person? He asks God to help him kill a ton of people and in return, he would kill a member of his own family. It sounds to me like this man was insane, not a hero. This is definitely not the morality we want in today’s society, and these are not the actions of a good god.