Jeftah's daughter - a misunderstanding?
macleod_ewan at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 4 13:48:56 EDT 2002
On looking at the Hebrew text of Jephthah's vow, it seems to me that there
is another explanation which has not been considered so far.
I believe the phrase 'vehaalitehu olah' should be translated as 'and I will
offer him [i.e. God] a burnt offering.' Thus, Jephthah would be saying that
he will dedicate whatever comes out of his house to God, but IN ADDITION, he
will offer a burnt sacrifice.
If the text meant, 'and I will offer IT up FOR a burnt offering', wouldn't
the 'olah' have to be le-olah, i.e. FOR a burnt offering? By omitting this,
I think the Hebrew text is saying simply that Jephthah offered a burnt
offering, PLUS he dedicated whatever came out of his house.
For example, Hannah dedicates Samuel to God, by offering him to temple
service. Indeed, it is possible that Jephthah's daughter could still have
been alive (although old) by the time Hannah made her vow. It would be nice
to think that Jephthah's daughter would have looked after Samuel - after
all, would Hannah want Eli, an old man, to look after him? Or those two
notorious sons of his?
This may also explain why the daughters of Israel went up every year to
bewail her virginity - i.e. she was still alive, in the temple, but never
able to get married or have children.
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