Jephthah and his daughter

Ron Rhoades rrhoades at jps.net
Mon Sep 14 22:32:01 EDT 1998


Subject: 
           Re: Jephthah and his daughter
      Date: 
           Mon, 14 Sep 1998 15:35:31 -0700
      From: 
           Ron Rhoades <rrhoades at jps.net>
        To: 
           Ita Sheres <isheres at mail.sdsu.edu>
References: 
           1


>Ita Sheres wrote:
> ...Jeph. is not portrayed as spiritually whole as you suggest; he
is a >warrior first and foremost; he is an outcast who is brought
back by the >elders of the tribe only because they believe that he
has the physical >prowess to ultimately defeat the Ammonites. Jeph.
is thus somewhat >insecure and not too clear on his position in
Gilead; in fact when his >family throws him out he is joined by what
the text calls "empty >people." Moreover, when he makes his infamous
vow, God's spirit was >already with him - why did he then need the
vow? Even more curious, when >he sees his Daughter in a welcoming
mode rushing to celebrate his >victory, he tears up his clothes and
blames her for "bringing him low" - >as if his vow was "her fault."
If the whole thing is about spirituality >etc. as you suggest in your
interpretation - why is there so much >mourning going on?....
 
>Ita Sheres. 


Hello Ita,

You are right that Jephthah is foremost a warrior, and that the
primary
reason the leaders brought him back was a selfish one in that they
realized he could fight for them. (The fact that he was having
success
against the Amonites was to him proof that God was with him even
though
his family and tribe had rejected him.)

However this doesn't really have a bearing on his "sacrifice" being
approved by God. The text makes it clear that he was acceptable to
God,
and later Bible writers support this approval, which would be
incongruous if it were a literal human sacrifice. Something that he
was
fighting against and at Jehovah's direction no less. His vow may have
been rash, but it could not have been against his own standards and
God's commands.

Making a vow doesn't mean you don't already have God's spirit.
Similar
to other vows such as Jacob’s, Jephthah's vow was demonstrating his
wholehearted desire for God's direction and attributing any success
he
would have to Jehovah. (Ge 28:20-22)

The reason there was so much mourning going was that it was a real
sacrifice on the part of both Jephthah and his daughter, for he had
no
other child. (Jg 11:34) Therefore no descendant of his would carry on
his name and his inheritance in Israel. Jephthah’s daughter was his
only
hope for this. She wept, not over her death, but over her
"virginity,"
for it was the desire of every Israelite man and woman to have
children
and to keep the family name and inheritance alive. Barrenness was an
extreme calamity.

I did find it interesting that some bibles translate 11:35 as if
Jephthah was blaming his daughter (mine doesn't). However, most
translations use a colon or semi-colon -- "And you have become the
cause
of great trouble to me; for *I* have opened my mouth...". I think
this
last phrase shows where Jephthah placed the real blame--on himself,
not
his daughter.

Someone competent in Hebrew will have to comment on the Hebrew text
since I couldn't find anything to help in my modest library here.

I'm particularly interested in the phrase W)T HYYT B(KRY "and you are
among those troubling me".

Ron





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