Saturday, January 06, 2007

Daughter of Jephthah?

What do you think of this?

Judges 11:30-40, "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 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. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

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. 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 the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

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. And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man.

And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year."

How old was she? What kind of relationship did she have with her father? With God? Did she die as a result of her father's vow? Some scholars say she was only kept from marriage and dedicated to temple service. Is this backed by the text? What can we learn from her example?
Concerning the question of how much biblically-imparted authority a father has over his daughter, what does this story illustrate? How does 1 Corinthians 7:37-38 apply? Isn't it remarkable that she whose father was an outcast inspired a yearly custom among the "daughters of Israel"? What does their reaction tell you about the values they held?

To God be all glory.


ZRamsli said...

What I've always wondered about this is what did God say about this considering how He judged so many people before for among other things; child sacrifice.

Believer said...

I think this is a puzzling passage. When I first encountered it I thought she died. But now I agree with the view that she was dedicated to the Lord and kept from marriage.
In verse 31 Jephthah vows to offfer whatever comes out of the doors of his house . WHATEVER not whoever, sounds like he was expecting an animal. Yet when his daughter meets him, he considers her as the object of his vow. Israel was not making human sacrifices. The law specified male animals without defect for the burnt offering. His grief seems as if he was going to kill her, but it is very possible his grief was over his only child unable to marry--no grandchildren,no heirs, no joy of seeing her happily and well married. Did she go away to serve the Lord as Samuel did? He could be grieving the loss of her presence as well. Verse 37 says that she mourned her remaining a virgin, not mourned her coming death. Verse39 again emphasizes that she remained a virgin.
You ask good questions.
I think the reaction of the friends shows how much being a wife and mother was valued. Also might say something about how easily traditions start.
Concerning the question of how much biblically imparted authority a father has over his daughter, what does this story illustrate? To me it shows that in this time in history father had more authourity culturally over their daughters futures. In our present culture girls are raised to be independent and choose for themselves whether to marry or not, and who to marry. Having any other career is encouraged.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

But ought it (giving daughters in marriage, raising a daughter) be a cultural issue? Who changes cultures, why, and how?

Good comments.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Believer said...

I would say that ultimately it is God who changes cultures by way of acceptance of the gospel. Still there will be differences in cultures as there are in individuals.