SV: The daughter of Jeftah died?

Daniel Walin danserve4x at
Sat Jun 1 23:37:00 EDT 2002

In Judges 11:31 Jephthah says, "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." (KJV)

If this text is accepted as the correct rendering of
the Hebrew, then the only logical conclusion (while
still believing the text of the Bible) is that
Jephthah did indeed offer his daughter as a burnt
sacrifice.  Why?  Because verse 39 says that he did
indeed carry out his vow.

However, I was looking at the footnotes in my Bible
and saw an interesting theory.  It says that the
Hebrew word translated "and" in verse 31 can also be
translated "or."  Thus it could read, "...shall surely
be the LORD's, or I will offer it up for a burnt
offering."  Thus if the thing was an animal, he would
sacrifice it; if it were a person, he would dedicate
that person to the LORD.  This seems to be supported
by the mention of his daughter mourning her virginity
for two months and by the mention that "She knew no
man."  If she were dedicated to the LORD, she would
not be allowed to marry.

Since I am far from a Hebrew scholar, (I'm on the list
to learn) I don't know whether the statement that the
Hebrew word can be either "and" or "or" is accurate. 
Would someone whose Hebrew skills are a bit more
advanced care to comment on that?

Daniel Walin  

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