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Commentary » Judges 11:29-Judges 11:40 » Family-Times.net
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Jephthah’s Vow to the Lord

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I recently heard of a wedding where the groom pulled the pastor aside and made him an offer. He said “Look, I’ll give you $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to me and the part where I’m to promise to love, honor and obey, I’d appreciate it if you’d just lea … More

Vow

Jephthah wanted victory over the Ammonites so badly that he made a foolish vow to God (vv. 29-31). If God would permit him to triumph over Ammon he would offer up as a sacrifice the first thing that walked through the door of his house to meet him after the battle. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and the enemy could not withstand his power and the battle was won (vv. 32-33).

His only daughter was the first to greet him when he returned home in triumph (v.34). The terms of his vow were disaster but he had to keep them (v. 35). It would be hard to overestimate the fearful strength of a vow to the Lord by the Hebrews and especially one that made the vow.

It seems that Jephthah’s daughter had already suspected the content of her father’s rash vow even before he divulged it openly and she submitted herself immediately to what awaited her (vv. 36-40). No matter how foolish the vow may have been we must at least respect this man and his daughter who were loyal, at such a cost. This is the termination of the clan of Jephthah since this was his only child. Thus the moment of triumph also brought about a moment of tragedy.

Application

Have I ever promised God that I would do something and then gone back on my vow? “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not keep it.” Are there any vows I have made I need to renew?

Judges 11:29-40 (English Standard Version)

Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering." So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand. And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow." And she said to him, "My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites." So she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions." So he said, "Go." Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

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