Jephthah and his daughter

Kevin W. Woodruff cierpke at
Sat Sep 12 22:17:37 EDT 1998


Needless to say this is a tricky bit of Scripture to do. After checking my
commentariesI find them pretty well split down the middle as to whether
Jepthah actually sacrificed his daughter. Two recognized Hebrew scholars
Gleason Archer and Walter Kaiser both take differing views and they at one
time taught at the same seminary (TEDS). One must agree that the most
natural understanding of the passage is that Jephthah actually did sacrifice
his daughter. Until the Middle Ages that was the only understanding of this
passage. I have a tendency to believe that Jephthah actually did sacrifice
his daughter. One reason is because of the theme of the book of Judges,
which is the breakdown of human society when God is not in control. We
cannot allow our modern concern for human life to color our interpretation
of a passage that occurs in a time when human life was cheap and existance
was precarious. If Jephthah mere devoted his daughter a life perpetual
celibacy in the Lord's service that would be a commendable thing and there
would be no reason for the women of Israel to bewail her fate. The story
shocks us, as well it should but we see that God did not require Jephtah to
do this act, he did it of his own inclination. Sometimes we glance over the
book of Judges and there is so much that should shock us.  Rape, kidnapping,
lust, betrayal, assasination, are not God's will but all were experience by
Israel in the time of the Judges. That is why God was looking for a man
after God's heart who would be king. Jephthah was a man who was a soldier of
fortune who ran with a pretty unsavory group of men from Tob. Like Samson
the Lord used Jephthah in spite of his great sin. 
I would recommend Gleason Archer's _Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties_ and
Walter Kaiser's _Hard Sayings of the Bible_  for succinct summaries of both
views, as well as Dale Ralph Davis's book _Such a Great Salvation._ Other
good books would be

Wood, Leon. Distressing Days of the Judges, 
Faussett, Andrew R.  A Critical and Expository Commentary on the Book of Judges.
Cundall, Arthur E. and Leon Morris. "Judges and Ruth," in The Tyndale Old
Testament Commentary
Davis, John J. Conquest and Crisis. 
Barber, Cyril  J. Judges: A Narrative of God's Power.  
Wolf, Herbert. "Judges," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary

Well that's my 2¢ for what's worth. 

Aleichem Shalom
Kevin W. Woodruff

At 08:29 PM 9/12/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Dear B-Haverim,
>I find it very difficult to believe Jephthah sacrificed his daughter by
>killing her(Judges 11).  Might he have put her away to a life of seclusion
>or celibacy?  We don't see blood, not even a smoking gun.  Are there
>answers either in legend, ancient Levantine anthropology or the Biblical
>text itself?
>Then, never mind the historicity of the account.  How can we reconcile such
>an episode with the literary composition of the Book of Judges particularly
>and the Hebrew Bible generally?
>B. M. Rocine
>Associate Pastor
>Living Word Church
>6101 Court St. Rd.
>Syracuse, NY 13208
>You are currently subscribed to b-hebrew as: $subst('PurgeID')
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Kevin W. Woodruff, M.Div.
Library Director/Reference Librarian
Cierpke Memorial Library
Tennessee Temple University/Temple Baptist Seminary
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