Posted by: thaishin | August 5, 2016

Was she a human sacrifice?

Judges 11

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, 31 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.  -kjv

30 And Jephthah made a vow to theLord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”  -niv

30 Jephthah made this vow to theLord: “If You will hand over the Ammonites to me, 31 whatever comes out of the doors of my house to greet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites will belong to the Lord, and I will offer it as a burnt offering.”  -hcsb

Question on openline moody radio July 30, 2016

Did Jephthah killed his daughter?

Answer from Dr Rydelnik:

Well, some people think so but I do not. In Judges 11, the story of Jephthah, it says that he would offer the first thing that greets him if the Lord gives him victory. So, he makes this vow. He’s given the victory and so who came out but his daughter who came out to meet him with tambourine and dancing. She was his only child and he had no other son or daughter besides her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “No, not my daughter. You have devastated me! You have brought me great misery. I have given my word to the Lord and cannot take it back”. Then, she responds by saying,” Do to me as you have said and she asked for this one thing: Let me wander 2 months through the mountain with my friends and mourn my virginity.” In other words, don’t turn me over to whatever you want to do. You think that she would be mourning for her life if she’s going to be a sacrifice but she’s mourning for her virginity. And then she did that and she mourned for her virginity for 2 months. As you read the text, at the end of 2 months, she returned to her father and he kept the vow he made about her. You think that he killed her but the text says she never had sexual relations with a man. The point is that she would never marry and the sacrifice was that he was going to turn her to the tabernacle service. One of the things that you see in various psalms is that young women functions in the tabernacle worship dancing and singing praise to the Lord using tambourines just as she was doing here at the beginning of the story. So, that’s what she did. She would probably go to serve in the tabernacle, never married and this one daughter never had an heir.



  1. Er she was offered as a burnt offering. The text is pretty clear. Why else will Jephthah tear his clothes ? Surely serving in the temple will not draw out such a response.

    • I asked:
      I thought the God of Israel don’t approve of human sacrifice? Why would He insist that Jepthah follow through with his promise?

      Kelvin replied:
      I don’t think it was a case of whether the sacrifice was acceptable to God or not. In fact, OT has many references to sacrifices which are not acceptable to God, Hopni and Phinehas offered strange fire to God which was not accepted. No where was it mentioned that this sacrifice was acceptable to God. Jephthah carried out our because it is a vow. He could have back tracked and seek God’s forgiveness for a rash vow…

      I asked:
      Do you think when the author of judges wrote the words ‘burnt offering’, could he have meant it symbolically as a woman serving at the temple?

      Kelvin replied:
      I certainly don’t think so and there is no scriptural warrant…

  2. I am not sure. Several people in scripture tore their clothing but doing so is not solely for a death sentence. Because we read the Bible does not mean we are to totally understand every story and event. If God wishes me to know something he makes the outcome very clear to me. If I don’t know the outcome for sure I do not ponder or worry about it.

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