SV: The daughter of Jeftah died?

George Athas gathas at
Mon Sep 30 06:07:46 EDT 2002

> You have the sequence of events backwards.  The battle came first,
> then the problem with his daughter.  In addition, Jephthah did not
> specifically say he would sacrifice his daughter, he said "whatever
> comes out of the house first."  Only when his child came out first did
> he realize how rash his vow was.  IMNSHO he was a fool to keep it,
> but I think the text strongly suggests that he did.

It is interesting to compare Ps 15.1, 4:

O Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tent?
Who shall dwell on thy holy hill?
......[him] who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change..."

You must remember the stigma attached to the sponsor of the vow if a person
failed to fulfil a vow. Since Jephthah had made an oath in Yahweh's name, his
failure to fulfil the oath would have resulted in personal dishonour to Yahweh.
Thus, you can understand why the text (including the New Testament) sees
Jephthah as a hero, despite the moral dilemma he was in.

The foolishness of Jephthah's vow is that he made it when he had all but won
victory. He did not need to make the vow. But, being so close to victory, he
made the vow as a thanksgiving to his God. As you read the vow in Hebrew, the
vow is perfect except for the last two words:

weha`liytihu `olah (and I will offer it up as an incineration offering).

When his daughter greets him on his return, Jephthah realises that these last
two words should not have slipped from his mouth. Notice the expression he uses
to describe the vow:

paciyti-piy el-yhwh (I breached my mouth to YHWH).

In other words, Jephthah realised that he had let something slip that he should
not have. It was a quick outburst from which he could not recoil. Hence, he was
obliged to carry through with the terrible demand.

Best regards,

Lecturer of Biblical Languages
Southern Cross College
Sydney, Australia

> Dave Washburn
> "Don't let your mind wander.
> It's too little to be left alone."
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