Notes below in the main constructed from the Bible Class - "Jephthah's Daughter"


1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite [Yiftach the Gileadi] was a mighty man of valour [gibbor chayil], and he was the son [ben] of an harlot [isha zonah]: and Gilead begat Jephthah [Gil'ad fathered Yiftach].

Jepthah a mighty man, courageous and great man of faith - Heb 11: 32. He will be in the kingdom.

7 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?

Jepthah a mighty man of valour v1, a considered man, rational, thoughtful, careful in his dealings - not hasty and rash. He reasoned methodically not on impulse. He did not rush to assist the elders of Gilead but weighed cirmstances according to his deeply spiritual understanding. He was not hasty in going against the Ammonites

12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?

Jepthah  was measured in his response. Twice sought reconcilliation as opposed to war, a second time (v14) by intelligent and careful reasoning. He appraises the historical context from a scriptural perspective v15-23. This is the demonstration of a faithful narrator, a man mighty in thought word and deed. A giant in faith.

29 Then the Spirit of Yahweh came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

The spirit of Yahweh came upon Jephthah - the man of great faith. He commits his way to Yahweh. As a spiritual man he adopts the teaching of the spirit written in the law which he demonstrably knows and follows dilligently. The vow he made was in this context of receiving the 'Spirit of Yahweh'.

It is inconceivable that he would vow a hasty vow contrary to Yahweh's law and will by offering a human burn offering sacrifice which Yahweh hates as a consequence of a thoughtless and ill considered oath. Rather his vow was entirely according to Yahweh's pleasure

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto Yahweh, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

He commits his way to Yahweh first.

Jephthah to destroy the Ammonites by Yahweh's strength. An evil nation that practiced child sacrifice

Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon - 1 Kings 11: 7.

This was not a rash vow. Jephthah not rash or timid, rather a mighty man in faith and courage weighed his thoughts and actions with spiritual care v 1, 7, 12. He was an expert in the law and was careful to abide by it. He was offering a special vow.

At this moment Jepththah was not at war or experiencing the pressure of battle. His vow comes before the war starts not during the heat of battle. The argument that under the stress of battle he made a hasty vow does not apply. As in v7, 12-14 he considered carefully the purpose and reason and circumstances of his vow.

Being a man of prayer, providence directed him and his prayers were answered, though as men of faith often find, outcomes invariably take a different turn to expectations. Tribulation takes different forms and is varied according Yahweh's will for he knows the thoughts and intents of the heart and how to bring many sons and daughters to glory.

Probably Jephthah did not intend his daughter to be the the intended offering. Perhaps his eldest half-brother - thereby reversing the spiritual slackness of his family relations v2.

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever [whoever - in several versions] cometh forth of the doors of my house [delet of my bais] to meet me, when I return in peace [ b'shalom] from the children of Ammon [Bnei Ammon], shall surely be Yahweh's, and I will offer it [or him -AMP] up for a burnt offering [olah].

Yahweh hates human sacrifice (as a burnt offering for no apparent reason such as the paganism of the surrounding nations). This was the Ammonite abomination - burning children with fire. Such abomination does not come in Yahweh's mind let alone give him pleasure.

And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin - Jer 32: 35.

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord - Lev 18: 21.

Thou shalt not do so unto Yahweh thy Elohim: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods - Deut 12: 31

Evil [not righteousness] was put away from Israel by fire in certain cases...

And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire - Lev 21: 9.

Why would Jephthah make a thoughtless vow against scripture to obtain Yahweh's help?

And why would Yahweh give that help when his own law was being opposed?

What priest would consent to offer Jephthah's daughter on Yahweh's altar?!

A burnt offering was skinned and its innards washed with water? Is this really what happened to his daughter?!

The burnt offering had to be male

If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before Yahweh - Lev 1: 3

Jephthah is offering the best [in consecration - which is the spiritual outworking of the mechanical burnt offering] It is an offering of thanksgiving for winning the battle, the outcome being certain when Yahweh is commander in chief.

The vow [neder - promise 5088 Strongs] is not the " devoted thing" [Cherem - doomed to destruction 2764 Strongs] of Lev 27: 29, referencing the extermination of Yahweh's enemies but rather the personal dedicatory vow of verse 2.

Jephthah vowed a singular [implied great, difficult, wonderful - Strongs concordance] vow - Lev 27: 2 with the caveat that he was not asking the price of redemption permitted under the law - (to pay a buy back fee) - so the subject of the vow would not be redeemable at any price.

It was therefore to be a lifelong consecration of service with no right of redemption. This is therefore in the spirit of the burnt offering, that which the burnt offering was intended to represent - the whole life dedicated in service to Yahweh - complete holiness and separation of mortal life for this one sanctified purpose.

Jephthah knew he was dedicating a person...I will offer [him - other versions] up as a burnt offering. This was therefore  a singular vow accompanied simultaneously by a burnt offering. Both the vow and the burnt offering were involved - as in the Psalms

I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows - 66: 13.

So we see with the Nazarite vows in Num 6

And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

And he shall offer his offering unto Yahweh, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings - 13,14.,

... if Jephthah's daughter was to be put to death, it doesn't make any sense why she and her friends (Judg 11:37) would have bewailed her virginity instead of her upcoming death!

No, she bewailed the fact that her entire life was to be one without a husband and children, performing services to YAHWEH per her father's vow (v. 38), who, in turn, was saddened because of this for she was his only child, never expecting her to come forth. 

 She was, nonetheless, a willing participant, being a woman of faith, and for this the daughters of Israel honoured her by celebrating and commemorating her decision for four days every year. The word, "lament" in v. 40 is incorrect. It is the Hebrew word, tanah, which conveys the idea of honouring and ascribing praise.

When Abraham would have sacrificed his son, the angel of Yahweh stopped him (Gen 22:11-12). When Saul was ready to put his son, Jonathan, to death (1Sam 14:24,42-45), the people were stirred to prevent it. 

...There is no record here to indicate that the people rose up against Jephthah, or of any outcry because in those days it was the father's right to give or not give their daughter in marriage. Besides, Yahweh would never accept or honour a human sacrifice. Only He was to provide a human sacrifice - His son.

Sis. Valerie Mello, 2012

32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and Yahweh delivered them into his hands.

The vow was legal and in accordance with Yahweh's will, therefore he did deliver the Ammonites and Jephthah's plea was satisfied by a successful outcome to the war. When Yahweh does not accept vows (because they contradict his law) he demonstrates his disrespect unequivocally.

In response to unlawful vows Jer 44: 25 the prophet warns Judah...

I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men...shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them v27.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

Jephthah's daughter was young, fresh, blossoming with the vitality of young adulthood in and the desires and expectations common to maidens in the prime of life.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto Yahweh, and I cannot go back.

He didn't expect his daughter to emerge first. Custom would be for the eldest half brother as the most prominent male in the household to be have the honour of being first to congratulate the victor.

Jephthah's grief is palpable. Any father of a beloved daughter can empathise with the sharp reality of the sacrifice he faces. Beloved because also is faithful like her father. Compliant,and of that sweet disposition common to the daughters of Sarah.

His only child. And by his own words he has committed to her leaving his house for good and to her being childless, never able to marry. And being his only child, his family line would die with her. The extinguishing of the family line was considered a great hardship by faithful Israelites.

He may visit her at the tabernacle, but she is no longer part of his household and will never give him grand children. In effect he has lost his daughter. His intimate knowledge of the law instructs him that their is no redemption price. His vow and its terms cannot be reversed. He knew the law - Num 30: 2

When thou shalt vow a vow unto Yahweh thy Elohim, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for Yahweh thy Elohim will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto Yahweh thy Elohim, which thou hast promised with thy mouth - Deut 23;21,23. .

36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto Yahweh, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as Yahweh hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

Faithful words of acceptance with sorrow from a sister willing to submit to the divine will regardless of personal sacrifice.

37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

It was the loss of natural woman hood. This was a catastrophe to her. Her dedication was to be life long. Her obedience and submission matched her father's courage and faith.

If death was her destiny, why not bewail her impending death with her fellows!

She was bewailing her virginity. Being young - her long childless life stretched out in front of her. There was no redemption because her father's vow gave no opportunity for it. It was a perpetual vow.

Her hopes of raising a family, and even the possibility of being the blessed among woman to bring forth the promised seed [Ha Moshaich] are dashed. No part of her life could be dedicated to husband and family. All was to be for the tabernacle service.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months [chodashim]: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity [betulim] upon the mountains.

Two months [The monthly cycle - doubled grief] She gave herself 2 months to come to terms with her loss - effectively a perpetual widow.

She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks - Lam 1: 2

Her friends mourned with her. This term completed she would commence her spiritual service.

This was the burden - not loss of her life but consecration - a whole life dedication of self sacrifice, chastity, separation, service in the tabernacle - a whole burnt offering of her life.

Could she have been a mother to Samuel? He was very young when dedicated...someone (other than a priest) would be required to care for him!

For a woman of faith there would be consolation

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband - 1 Cor 7: 34.

She could serve Yahweh without distraction. Though bereft of joys peculiar to motherhood, she would be spared its overwhelming demands, the fatigue, the exhausting workload, anxiety, vexation and any long term physical implications which can follow childbirth.

Other women gave service to the tabernacle

...the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation - Ex 38: 8.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day Lk 2: 36,37; 1 Sam 1.

40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Messiah's offering [the destruction of the body of sinful flesh in declaration of Yahweh's righteousness] was the culmination of a lifelong dedication of service - (burnt offering)