Jephthah’s Vow to the Lord

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


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.


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)

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