A Vow is For Keeps: Jephthah’s Daughter

I was searching around on the internet for other ideas for bible stories of women in the Bible, when I came across a story that I can’t believe that I had never heard before.   I have to admit that I sometimes skip books in the bible when reading when they don’t hold my interest.  Now I am surprised that I missed this one, but it is a very interesting story.

For this study, I take you to the book of Judges.   In Judges 11, we meet a man named Jephthah.   Now he was an outcast in his family since he was the product of his father, Gilead and a prostitute.  His brothers drove him out because they didn’t feel he deserved to get any of the family inheritance, so he fled and settled in the land of Tob.   While in Tob, he gathered a great following.

The story skips on when at some time in the future, the Ammonites were making war with Israel.   Jephthah was a mighty warrior, and the leaders from Gilead came to him and asked him to be their commander.  He was amazed since they kicked him out that they were coming to him for help.  No matter what , they needed his help and they were wiling to make him head of all who lived in Gilead.  They assured him, with God as their witness, that they would most certainly make him head of all in Gilead, so he went with them.  When Jephthah went out to war with the Ammonites, he made a vow to the Lord, “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph will be the LORD’S and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31)    Jephthah did defeat the Ammonites and he devastated them!

Now when he returned home from battle, guess who was the first to meet him?   His daughter.   His only child came out of the house dancing with tambourines that her father was home victorious.   His heart was devastated!   He told her of his vow to the LORD and his words were “Oh!  My daughter!  You have made me miserable and wretched…”  wait, wait, wait….SHE made HIM miserable.  Now I can understand how he would feel miserable if she came home and told her dad she was pregnant or if he caught her worshipping idols or something.   But she did not make the vow with the LORD.  He did.   I can understand Jephthah being upset though.   I don’t know WHO he expected to be the first out of his house,  but he was bound to his vow now.

She is never given a name, and I have no idea how old she is, but she has a maturity that is incredible.   She tells him, “My father, 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.  But grant me this one request.  Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends because I will never marry.” (Judges 11: 36-37)  So she did, and when she came back, the Bible says, “and he did to her as he had vowed.  And she was a virgin.”  (Judges 11: 39b)

Have you ever made a promise to God that when you actually got what you wanted from Him, that the consequence was that great?  Maybe not to this extreme, but have you ever said, “Lord if you will give me ________________, I promise to go back to church”  or “If you help me with _______________, I promise to read the bible more…”   I am guilty of this, I can tell you.   When I was much younger caught up in sexual sin, I used to pray, “Lord, if I am not pregnant, I promise not to do this ever again.”   Fortunate for me, God always came through for me.  I never had a child out of wedlock in all of my years of sin, but unfortunate for me, I never kept my promise to God.   Praise God that He still loved me and wanted me anyway.   Jephthah’s daughter never was given a name, but she knew that a vow to the LORD was to be kept.   I bet Jephthah thought thoroughly before making vows in the future.   This one tore his heart to shreds.   The LORD is with us no matter what we do, how badly we sin, or whatever vows we make to get through certain situations we sinners find ourself in.  He loves us no matter what.   If you do not know of God’s son, who came to the world to keep us from the pit of HELL so we can be forever with the God who loves us, please take a moment to pray about it.  Jesus paid the cost.  There are no more sacrificial fires to forgive us for our sin.  Jesus paid it all.   He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  He took away my sin.  Will you give him yours?

If you make a decision that you want Jesus Christ to be your personal Savior, all you have to do is say a small prayer like this.  “Lord, I know I am a sinner.  I am sorry.  But Lord, I believe that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to take away my sin once and for all, past, present and future.  Lord, I do believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and that You raised Him from the dead on the third day.  Lord, thank you for sacrificing your Son for me.   I do not deserve your love, but will be eternally grateful for what your have done for me.  Thank you, Lord for loving me.  In Jesus name, AMEN.”

If you pray this prayer, will you send us a message through the Got Questions section of the blog?  We would love to celebrate this with you!

As a side note, I would like to recognize the website womeninthebible.net for helping me to find new women to read about in the Bible and to bring to you.   It has been a great help to me!

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