Women of the Word: Jephthah’s Daughter

jephthahs-daughter-wotw

The Israelites had a lot of enemies. Some of those enemies were the Ammonites – a cruel group of people who did not worship God, sacrificed their living babies to a false image, and according to Amos 1:13, they ripped open the stomachs of pregnant women in the lands that they conquered. One day, a Gileadite outcast named Jephthah, rose to leadership in Israel and became a judge for six years. During this time, Judges 11:29 tells us that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah’ and he made a vow that if the Lord gave him victory over the Ammonites he would sacrifice the first thing that greeted him upon his return home to the Lord.

Okay, let’s do this, the Lord agreed. So Jephthah went out to do battle and he was given a huge victory over the Ammonites. The Lord had done His part. Now it was time for Jephthah to keep his vow.

{enter} Jephthah’s daughter

Judges 11:34 reads: “When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.” Based upon his reaction in the next verse (he tore his clothes), if Jephthah had known that his only daughter would have been the first one to greet him there is no doubt he would have vowed to do something differently. But there was nothing he could do now. He had given his word to the Lord and could not go back on it. While we can learn a lot from Jephthah about not making rash promises, his daughter’s response to her father’s vow is where we take our lesson from.

1. Jephthah’s daughter was a willing sacrifice. When she heard that she was to be the fulfillment of his vow, Jephthah’s daughter did not grow angry at him. She did not show any bitterness. She did not begin crying. She quietly accepted her fate. This is what she told her 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.” We are never given her name or age, but this we do know: she obediently offered herself even though it meant her future would be different.

Jephthah’s daughter would never have a wedding. She would never be a wife. She would never be a mother. The things she was probably dreaming of doing, she would never get to do. Jephthah’s daughter asked her father to give her two months alone and then she would come back for him to fulfill his vow. She could have run away and stayed away, but she did not. Jephthah’s daughter returned. And in keeping her word, she helped her father keep his.

We are also to live our lives as willing sacrifices. When God calls us to do something, we are to obey Him; even if it means giving up the plans we have for ourselves. We need to be willing to sacrifice our dreams, goals, success, and even life for the cause of Christ. This will be easier to do when we remember that our life is not our own. Our lives belong to God. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves. And for the One Who has already made the ultimate sacrifice for us, we should be ready to practice the virtue of sacrifice for Him.

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5 thoughts on “Women of the Word: Jephthah’s Daughter

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