The daughter of Jeftah died?

David Stabnow dstabno at
Tue Jun 4 10:47:47 EDT 2002

Daladier Lima wondered what would happen if a dog were the first thing to
greet Jephthah -- would he sacrifice it?  Liz replied that, no, it would
have to be a kosher sacrifice.

That is part of the point: Jephthah made a rash and unwise vow.  The vow
put him in a no-win situation: break the vow or kill his daughter.  If it
had been a dog, it would be a different no-win situation: break the vow or
make a non-kosher sacrifice.  Either one would be a good illustration of
the bad consequences from an unwise vow.  The child sacrifice is a much
more heart-wrenching and hence more memorable illustration.

In context, it all boils down to an illustration of Jephthah's lack of
forethought and wisdom, which in turn demonstrates his lack of ability to
be the ideal ruler.  The writer points out that this was before there was
any king in Israel.  If there were a king, he implies, we wouldn't have
such problems.  When would a writer say that?  It might have been written
toward the end of the period of Judges, when the fledgling nation was
spiraling out of control and the populace was beginning to cry out for
centralized leadership "like the nations around them."  Or, perhaps it was
written at the very early part of Saul's reign during his military
successes, or, more likely, during the height of David's reign over all
Israel and Judah but before the Bathsheba debacle.

Who was the writer?  A pro-kingship campaigner, or a promoter of Saul or
David (perhaps a court scribe).

So we know why he wrote -- he drops hints.  And we can speculate on when he
wrote and who he was.  Depending on our various views of these why's,
when's, and who's, we can each evaluate which events are probably basically
factual, albeit selectively reported for the sake of the writer's agenda.

Dave Stabnow
Bible Translation Editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Nashville, Tennessee
david.stabnow at

    Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for God's glory.  (1 Cor 10:31, HCSB)

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