Judges 11 introduces us to Jephthah and his daughter. Her name is not mentioned in the passage.
Jephthah was rejected by his family and tribe and was sent away as he was a son of a harlot. When the people of Israel faced an inevitable war with the people of Ammon, they realised the need of a warrior like Jephthah and they came to him requesting his help. Jephthah agreed to help if they would make him the head and commander over the people. After the initial talks with Ammonites failed, Jephthah prepares for the battle. In verse 30 of Judges 11, Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord ’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” And the Lord gave him the victory and when he returned back home in peace, he sees his daughter coming out dancing to celebrate his victory and remembers his vow and mentions it to his beloved daughter with a broken heart.
Her reply to her father is just amazing. Jud 11;36 “So she said to him, “My father, if you have given your word to the Lord , do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.”
She requests her father that she may be alone for two months, that she may go and wander on the mountains and bewail her virginity with her friends. “And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, 40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
Lessons to apply from the life of Jephthath’s daughter :
- Don’t make vows in haste to the Lord.
From the life of Jephthah, we learn it very clearly that we must not make vows unto the Lord in haste. We have to face the consequences for it, one mistake of ours can not only affect us but even our family and children.
2. Be obedient and make efforts to fulfil every promise you make to the Lord.
Jephthath’s daughter was very obedient in keeping her father’s vow to the Lord. We see that in verse 36, how beautifully she tells to her father that if you have given a word to the Lord , do to me as per your word. This shows that she had the fear of God. Be it whatever even if it is to risk our life we must keep up the word we have made to the Lord.
3. Her commitment in fulfilling the promise.
It is not easy as a young girl to let go of your dreams, your life. But we see true commitment in Jephthath’s daughter to fulfill the promise made unto God. True commitment to God comes only when you know who God is and what he has done for you. She took every step in fulfilling the promise which her father made.
4. Her response was not a natural one – She was trained in godliness.
We all have the tendency to counter react when we hear something against us, but here we see a different response. Just as she heard the phrase ‘vow to God’ she obliged by it and her response was not just like a natural person. This shows how she was trained in godliness; the fear and love she had for God.
5. Though her response was different, she had the right to make her father realise his mistake.
She could have told her father that ‘Human sacrifice was expressly forbidden by God’.