by Theodore Wright.
Did Jephthah’s daughter really get offered up as a burnt sacrifice by her own father or did Jephthah do something else?
Did she really get “FRIED” for doing nothing wrong nor of her own fault but due to the foolish words of her “dear old dad”?
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
32 So Jephthah advanced toward the people of Ammon to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands. 33 And he defeated them from Aroer as far as Minnith—twenty cities—and to Abel Keramim, with a very great slaughter. Thus the people of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
34 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.”
36 So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.” 37 Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”
38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. 39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man. And it became a custom in Israel 40 that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
– Judges 11:30-40 (NKJV)
Jephthah did say to the Lord that “whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” Well, did he do it? Did Jephthah actually offer his own daughter as a burnt sacrifice to the LORD? If Jephthah had done such a thing, he would have broken the law of God given through Moses. So, what did he do?
Judges 11:1-3 (NKJV) mentions…
1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot; and Gilead begot Jephthah. 2 Gilead’s wife bore sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, “You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” 3 Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.
Jephthah was separated from his own family in his brothers’ rejection of him. Did he later become the type of man to burn up his daughter due to his own rash vow to God? Later, the elders of Gilead sought him out…
7 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me, and expel me from my father’s house? Why have you come to me now when you are in distress?” 8 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That is why we have turned again to you now, that you may go with us and fight against the people of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” – Judges 11:7-8 (NKJV)
God did grant Gilead deliverance from Ammon. In return for God’s granted deliverance, did Jephthah then disobey the law of God over his own foolishly worded vow? NO!
Jephthah’s daughter said in verse 37, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.” These young women were not going to bewail the life of the daughter but were going to bewail her virginity.
38 So he said, “Go.” And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains. 39 And it was so at the end of two months that she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.
The Bible text DOES NOT SAY that she was put to death by fire. It was simply said that “She knew no man”, remaining unmarried.
Do you not think that if Jephthah’s daughter thought that her father was going to torch her and destroy her by fire that she would have rather fled for her life when she left for the mountains?
Jephthah said he could not go back on his vow to the LORD but performing it literally would have been disobedience against God’s word. Therefore, Jephthah’s daughter was dedicated to the LORD for service to Him. Just as God sought to use Jephthah, He also sought to use his daughter. What God wants of us is to have our children dedicated to serve Him, not to be rejected and cast out nor to be offered up as a burnt offering.