Jephtha’s Daughter Sacrifice as a Burnt Offering to God
The story of Jephtha and his daughter is found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible. Jephtha was a judge of Israel who made a vow to God that if he were victorious in battle, he would offer as a burnt offering whatever came out of his house to meet him upon his return. Unfortunately for Jephtha, his only daughter was the first to greet him when he returned from the battlefield. The question of whether Jephtha sacrificed his daughter, as a burnt to God, has been debated by scholars and theologians for centuries.
The First Interpretation Of the Story of Jephtha’s Daughter Sacrifice
One interpretation of the story is that Jephtha did indeed sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering to God. This interpretation is based on the fact that Jephtha made a vow to God to offer as a burnt offering whatever came out of his house to meet him upon his return, and his daughter was the first to greet him. The language used in the story also suggests that Jephtha carried out his vow, as it says that he “did with her according to his vow which he had vowed” (Judges 11:39).
The complaint about this interpretation
Now, there is a complaint about this interpretation. This is because the Bible explicitly condemns human sacrifice as a detestable practice that is abhorrent to God. For example, in Deuteronomy 12:31, God commands his people not to sacrifice their sons and daughters, even as a burnt offering, like the wicked nations do. Those who complain about this interpretation maintain that it is impossible that God would approve of Jephtha sacrificing his daughter, given this clear prohibition against human sacrifice.
The Second Interpretation Of the Story of Jephtha’s Daughter Sacrifice
Another interpretation of the story is that Jephtha did not sacrifice his daughter, but instead dedicated her to a life of celibacy and service to God. This interpretation is based on the fact that Jephtha’s daughter asks for two months to mourn her virginity, which, according to this interpretation, suggests that she knew that she would not be able to have children.
Did Jephtha Actually Sacrifice his Daughter as a Burnt Offering to God, to Fulfil his Vow?
Yes. Jephtha actually sacrificed his daughter, as a burnt offering to God, to fulfil his vow because even the Bible, in Judges 11:39, says so when it says that he “did with her according to his vow which he had vowed”. Nevertheless, God rejected the sacrifice because he does not accept human sacrifice. It is one thing to offer a sacrifice to God and it is also quite another for Him to either accepts or reject it. The fact that a sacrifice has been offered does not mean that God will automatically accepts it. Be that as it may, the question of whether Jephtha sacrificed his daughter will remain a matter of debate among many scholars and theologians just as it had always been for centuries. This is because of how differently people understand the issue. However, it is important to remember that the Bible explicitly prohibits human sacrifice, and that the story of Jephtha and his daughter should not be used to justify such a practice.
Why do People Doubt That Jephtha Sacrificed his Daughter, as Burnt Offering to God, even as the Bible Confirms in Judges 11:39 that he did?
People doubt that Jephtha actually sacrificed her daughter as burnt offering to God despite clear Biblical confirmation of this sacrifice, in Judges 11:39, because they know that God forbids human sacrifice and will not accept Jephtha’s sacrifice of his daughter. But those people have missed the point. The point is not whether God accepted Jephtha’s sacrifice or not. The point is: “if Jephtha actually sacrificed his daughter or not without considering whether God will accept it or not.”
The fact that God hates human sacrifice and will not accept it from anyone, even from Jephtha, is not a valid reason to conclude that Jephtha did not sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering while the Bible says he did.
I would like to inform you that, though some cases, like the one of Jephtha’s daughter sacrifice, is a horrible, it is wrong for anyone to allow his feelings and what he knows to influence him to doubt or misinterpret the Bible. The Bible clearly confirmed that Jephtha actually sacrificed her daughter but, because some people know that God does not accept human sacrifice, they doubt or misinterpret the Bible, saying that Jephtha did not. The right thing to do, with cases like this, is to simply believe the Bible, which tells us exactly what happened. Following this, one can then stress that God rejected Jephtha’s sacrifice because it violated his will even though it was to fulfil a vow.
Why Did Jephtha Sacrifice his Daughter to God Contrary to God’s Will?
Jephtha sacrificed his daughter, as a burnt offering, contrary to God’s will because he was afraid of offending God by breaking his vow as he knew that God takes vows seriously.
Did God Accept Jephtha’s Sacrifice Of his Daughter?
No. God did not accept Jephtha’s sacrifice of his daughter because it is against his law to sacrifice one’s son, daughter or any other human being, even if it is to fulfil a vow.
What Did Jephtha Misunderstood When he Sacrificed her Daughter to Fulfil his Vow?
What Jephtha misunderstood when he sacrificed her daughter, as a burnt offering to God, to fulfil his vow, was that, though, fulfilling a vow is an obedience to God’s law, God would understand if a vow was broken because its fulfilment will equally break another law of His.
What Should Jephtha had done Instead of Sacrificing his Daughter to Fulfil a Vow?
Jephtha, instead of sacrificing his daughter, to fulfil his vow, should have asked God to pardon him for making a rash and vague vow and God would have pardoned him. Yes. God would have pardoned him for two reasons. First, God does not advocate the violation of one of his laws to obey another, as Jephtha had done. Second, God is merciful, especially to those who are not sinning habitually and are willing to confess and repent of their sins.
Lesson: What Can We Learn From Jephtha’s Daughter Sacrifice To Fulfil A Vow?
What we can learn from the sacrifice of Jephtha’s daughter, as burnt offering, to fulfil a vow, is that we should avoid making rash decisions and utterances. We should also learn that it is wrong to break any of God’s laws to keep another, as Jephtha had done, even if the aim is to fulfil a vow.