Jepthath's vow

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Brutus, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. Brutus

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    So, what do you think, did he actually give his daughter as a burnt offering?
     
  2. Deacon

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    “And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made.” (Judges 11:39a, ESV)
     
  3. canadyjd

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    A foolish vow, never sought by God and (IMHO) not accepted by God.
     
  4. JonC

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    I believe he fulfilled his vow by offering his daughter to God (not as a literal burnt offering). The passage would make no sense (IMHO) if it were to indicate a human sacrifice being offered to God. There are a couple of supports for this...off hand there is the daughter lamenting being a virgin...not on the way to die, the binding of the oath (in the same category as not offering God an unacceptable sacrifice...that is, it would not be less a rebellion to ignore the oath as it would be to offer a human sacrifice), and of course the offer not necessarily needing to result in the daughter's death.
     
    #4 JonC, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  5. Deacon

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    Could it be his daughter was lamenting dying as a virgin.
    Her lineage and any hope of bearing a child would end.

    “If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:2, ESV)
    [c.f. Deuteronomy 23:21–23]

    Still, according to the Law of Moses, a man could purchase back an oath... at a cost.

    Leviticus 26 is a chapter that specifically deals with vows and how to break them.

    “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, If anyone makes a special vow to the LORD involving the valuation of persons, then the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary. If the person is a female, the valuation shall be thirty shekels.” (Leviticus 27:1–4, ESV)

    This exception to the Law doesn't seem to have happened here.

    Those were terrible times.

    "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

    Rob
     
  6. JonC

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    It could be that she was lamenting dying as a virgin. But the Law in regards to binding him to that oath is not a good argument (IMHO, of course) if the consequence was human sacrifice (which is not in accordance with the Law). Sacrifice in terms of offering his daughter to God (and she remaining a virgin) does not have the issues that presenting her as a literal burnt offering does (and I believe is also an acceptable understanding of that passage...his daughter is as a burnt offering).
     
  7. Deacon

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    The issue remains unresolved in the text and has been argued for thousands of years.
    Perhaps we can resolve the issue once-and-for-all in this thread! :tongue3:

    God asked Isaac from Abraham as a burnt offering.
    He was redeemed by a stray ram.

    Perhaps Japheth thought his hand would be staid?

    I don't recall any nunneries during this time in history.

    Rob
     
    #7 Deacon, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  8. JonC

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    :laugh: I don't think we will ever know for certain.

    We could go round and round. I can also point out that his obligation to keep the vow is under the Law (as is the prohibition for killing his daughter) but Abraham was not under the Law. Then there is also the difference in Abraham ... Abraham was ordered by God to carry it out while Jepheth was obligated from the Law (which again, would have prevented him from offering his daughter as a human sacrifice).

    Both of us have our reasoning, although we disagree. The sacrifice (regardless of whether or not it was a burnt offering or as a burnt offering) is not the point of the passage anyway.
     
  9. Deacon

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    I find it curious that some of the same people who insist on taking Genesis "literally" are the same ones who don't think that Japheth offered her as a burnt offering despite the text saying he did.

    Rob
     
  10. JonC

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    I think that it is a more complex issue (to include taking Genesis "literally" (although I do believe it to indicate 7 literal days it is not taking it non-literally if you believe the text was not written to mean 24 literal days). I do not see Japheth's sacrifice of his daughter "as a burnt offering" to have to mean "literally" that he killed her as a human sacrifice.

    Think of it this way.

    The interpretation of the vow “whatever comes forth…shall be to God, and I will offer it up for a burnt-offering” may have a dual intention (whatever comes forth…shall be to God, or I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” He may have been, in his original vow, acknowledging that if it were something unacceptable as a burnt offering he would consecrate it to God. OR it could be that this was implied in offering as a burnt offering (consecrating what would be unacceptable as such an offering to God).

    It could be, as some insist, that Jephthah was ignorant of the Law and believed he was faithful in carrying through his oath by killing his daughter.

    But all three views are literal. I do not believe, for example, that observing the Lord’s Supper as symbolic is taking Scripture “less literal” than the RCC. The problem in Genesis is not taking the days to mean ages instead of 24 hour periods. It is the doctrines that are affected by some of the stances presented. What we do is try to see what was meant by the text. We simply disagree in what the text is saying.
     
    #10 JonC, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2014
  11. Gina B

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    Wouldn't he have been punished or made an outcast or something if he did that? Plus, why would his daughter have come back to die? Wouldn't others have protected her if she ran?
    Do human sacrifices go off on their own to cry about it for a few weeks, then they're ready for it? That makes no sense.
     
  12. JonC

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    That’s my concern. The idea that he was faithful in keeping his vow by rebelling against the Law is problematic. The vow could not have been binding if the obligation is transgression (I do not think that God requires men to be faithful unto disobedience but unto obedience). You are also right to point out that the Israelites would have also been obligated to act against him as a transgressor.

    One could argue that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” but this was an argument of situation. Israel was without a king, not without the Law. If, however, he killed his daughter in fulfillment of the vow then a lesson that is present in that text (beyond don’t make foolish vows) is that God honors disobedience IF it is done out of a pure motive. That, or it was a pagan vow to illustrate the distance of God's people from His Law and their lack of understanding (but the passage does not, IMHO, continue to that point).
     
  13. Deacon

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    Here is my first go through of the English text w/o commentary review.

    A JAPHTHAH’S MOTHER A PROSTITUTE
    Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. 2 Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away.

    B JEPHTHAH DEPARTS WITH NO INHERITANCE
    “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.

    C ISRAEL’S UNANTICIPATED LEADER
    4 Some time later, when the Ammonites were fighting against Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”
    7 Jephthah said to them, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now, when you’re in trouble?”

    D ELDER’S VOW TO JAPHTHAH
    8 The elders of Gilead said to him, “Nevertheless, we are turning to you now; come with us to fight the Ammonites, and you will be head over all of us who live in Gilead.”
    9 Jephthah answered, “Suppose you take me back to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me—will I really be your head?”

    E ELDER’S DECLARATION OF FAITH IN JAPHTHAH
    10 The elders of Gilead replied, “The Lord is our witness; we will certainly do as you say.” 11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and commander over them. And he repeated all his words before the Lord in Mizpah.
    12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?”
    13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”

    F JAPHTHAH’S DECLARATION OF FAITH IN ISRAEL’S GOD
    14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying:
    “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. 16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea[a] and on to Kadesh. 17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.
    18 “Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.
    19 “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.
    21 “Then the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.
    23 “Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess. 25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me.
    Let the Lord, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

    E' NON-DECLARATION FROM THE KING OF AMMON
    28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

    D' JAPHTHAH’S VOW
    29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “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.”

    AMMONITE DEFEAT
    32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

    C' JAPHTHATH’S UNANTICIPATED OFFERING
    34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.”

    B' JAPHTHATH’S DAUGHTER DEPARTS WITH NO INHERITANCE
    36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. Do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”
    38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed.

    A' JAPHTHATH’S DAUGHTER A VIRGIN
    And she was a virgin.
    From this comes the Israelite tradition 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

    CONCLUSION
    FIGHTING BETWEEN THE RENEGADE GILIADITES AND EPHRAIM 12:1-6

    ISRAEL’S VOW TO JEPHTHAH FULFILLED
    12:7 Jephthah led Israel six years.

    NOTES:
    1. Jephthah was a son of a prostitute.
    2. He was driven away by his father’s sons and the elders of Gilead.
    3. He associated himself with a gang of renegades.
    4. He was widely known to be mighty/strong, a leader of fighters.
    5. He was made leader of the Gileadites for the rest of his life.
    6. Gileadites were considered renegades by neighboring Ephraimites.
    7. Japhthah expected quick responses and had a short fuse. [12:1-4]

    QUESTIONS:
    DID JAPHTHATH FULFILL HIS VOW?
    WHY DO YOUNG WOMEN OF ISRAEL GO OUT FOR FOUR DAYS?

    Rob
     
  14. JonC

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    :thumbsup: Good "go through." I couldn't remember all of that without review.

    To cut quick the review...either way you translate it Japhthath fulfilled his vow regarding offering to God the first thing that came out. The women of Israel went out for four days to commemorate Japhthath's daughter (I don't remember the reference).
     
  15. corndogggy

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    Why exactly do you think he was so upset and apologizing then? Why exactly did all the girls in Israel get together on a yearly basis to "lament" her?
     
  16. corndogggy

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    It wasn't just four days either, it was four days, every year, indefinitely. That's some serious stuff. Songs were even written by the girls who performed in this ritual, and the lyrics leave nothing to the imagination.

    http://telshemesh.org/cheshvan/jephthahs_daughter_a_lament.html
     
    #16 corndogggy, Aug 19, 2014
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  17. JonC

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    Given the worldview of the Israelites (if it was not fulfilled by death)...I am not exactly sure what you are addressing in your questions. I am not saying that he did not kill his daughter as an act of faithfulness to his vow and to God (the one to whom he vowed). I am, however, saying that the text does not necessitate that interpretation and that I think it is problematic. The easiest defense of your position, IMHO, is that he killed his daughter out of obligation to his vow and ignorance of the Law. Personally, it does not matter very much to me...I am more than willing to be wrong in concluding that he consecrated his daughter as an offering to God.
     
  18. corndogggy

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    If you read enough you'll realize that several bad sounding things, especially in Judges, are attempted to be softened by leaving out key details. Read probably chapters 18 through 20 for example, notice how it dances around the idea that this guy threw his concubine out to a sex-crazed mob to be violently raped all night, and wouldn't open the door for her, he basically went to sleep then had to step over her as he was walking out the door, told her to "get up", threw her over his donkey when she couldn't, then went home and chopped her up into 12 pieces. This is the same book that we are dealing with here, and it dances around things in the same manner, for example, it never actually said that this concubine was dead or alive. Certain apologist-minded people take that as a good sign, that this girl was at least dead before he chopped her up and snail mailed her body parts all over Israel. But it never says that, she did make it to the doorway, and he talked to her as if she was alive. Most likely he killed the girl. But it never says.
     
  19. OldRegular

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    NO! God does not accept human sacrifice. If Jephthah had sacrificed his daughter it could not have been accepted by GOD and Jephthah would have been punished. Recall the following:

    Leviticus 10:1,2
    1. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
    2. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.


    Man does not get to decide what is acceptable worship of GOD, even now! Israel lived surrounded by pagans who practiced human sacrifice. If Jephthah had sacrificed his daughter and lived the pagans would have seen no difference between GOD and their Idols. Note the Scripture that follows:

    Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

    I believe the daughter remained a virgin as JonC has noted!
     
  20. Deacon

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    It's not really about what God accepts but what Jephthah did.

    IMO, the absence of a definitive answer in the text infers a biblically unacceptable result.

    Look at each of the Judges, almost all had defects.

    Was Samson righteous? Did God use him?

    In Joshua we see the promise of Abraham (mostly) fulfilled - it's (almost) a success story.

    In Judges we see the failures of Israel, each Judge cycle shows Israel's need to depend on God and their constant turning from him.

    The tragedy of the Jephthah cycle is his rejection by his people, his desire for an inheritance with his people. Ultimately leading to his vow - which eliminates any chance of passing on an inheritance.

    Rob
     
    #20 Deacon, Aug 19, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2014

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