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In Judges, chapter 11:30-31, 34-40, did Jephthah offer his daughter as a burnt-offering to the Lord?
Answer by Bill Cavender

No, human sacrificies and human burnt offerings were forbidden by Jehovah our God. Such could not be an acceptable sacrifice and offering to God. Only ONE human sacrifice was EVER acceptable to the Lord, ONE human life and blood offering, and that was our Saviour's offering, His death upon Calvary's cross, the shedding of His blood for thre remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28; I Peter 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21, etc.).

Jephthah, a Gileadite (tribe of Gad), was a pious and godly man, a judge in Israel, who led the Israelites against the Ammonites in battles east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. He called upon the Lord for guidance and help (vs. 9-11; 21; 23-24; 27), considering that the battles were the Lord's. He is listed in God's "hall of fame" of some of the faithful and true believers in the Old Testament times (Hebrews 11:32).

As he was preparing to go into the battles, he made a vow to Jehovah, saying two parts to the vow: "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever ('whoever') 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 ('him') up for a burnt offering" (Judges 11:30-31).

Had a "clean" animal, such as a sheep, lamb, ram, bullock, etc. , without blemish, as defined by the law of Moses as "clean," come out of his doors upon his return from the battles, he could have offered such. Had an "unclean" animal, such as a camel, donkey, horse, dog, etc., come out to meet him, he could NOT have offered such. Jephthah knew the Lord and knew His will well enough to know what he could offer. Had his neighbor's wife, or son, or daughter, come out of his doors upon his return from the battles, he could NOT have offered them. AND, not being a Levite and, therefore, not a priest, Jephthah would have to engage a Levitical priest to make the offering for him. A priest would have to consent to the sacrifice and offering.

But when Jephthan returned from the battles, God having given him and the Israelites the victory over the Ammonites, his daughter, his only child, his only-begotten child, came from the house to meet and greet her father (vs. 34). Jephthah was devastated. "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.'" This sweet, loving, obedient daughter responded, "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 upon your enemies, on the Ammonites" (vs. 36).

God, in His wisdom, knowing that His people would sometimes make rash vows, quick statements and promises, later to be regretted, made provisions in His law through Moses to remedy rash vows. The vow(s) could be redeemed, rescinded, and nullified by the payment of certain levies and fees, as determined by the evaluation of a Levitical priest (Leviticus 27:1-8). Thus Jephthah would take advantage in this provision of the law of Moses.

Jehovah forbade and prohibited idolatry, and the offering of children (humans) to the various "gods" which the Canaanite peoples and tribes believed in and practiced in the land of Canaan, which land the Israelites (under Joshua) were going to conquer, and amongst which peoples the Israelites were going to live. God said to Moses, "Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name" (Leviticus 20:2-3). It is absurd and unthinkable that God would accept from Jephthah a sacrifice and burnt-offering of his precious child, when He had made such a death penalty for anyone who did so to false gods, which would "profane my holy name, to make my sanctuary unclean." No, Jephthah DID NOT offer his pious daughter as a burnt-offering!

BUT Jephthah did keep his vow, a vow which was acceptable. He could dedicate his daughter, with her consent, to service to God at the tabernacle (Exodus 38:8; I Samuel 2:22, etc.). She was dedicated to life-long, perpetual virginity, never to marry, nor to bear children. Thus Jephthah's name and family would become extinct in Israel. So the maiden consented to the vow, set the terms of its inception and beginning, thus: "Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone for two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions." This she did, and at the conclusion of the two months, she returned to her father, and the vow went into effect - "she had never known a man;" and it became a custom in Israel that, as long as this pious girl (woman) lived, her friends and companions would come to see her and lament with her for four days each year (Judges 11:37-40). She could have taken the "Nazarite Vow," under which vow she could have married and had a family (Numbers 6:1-21), but she did not take this vow. The one she did take honored God, honored her father, honored and blessed God's people, and honored herself.

Next Question - Question #3: What instrument is the Christian to “play” or “pluck”?

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