JUDGES 11 describes an event in Israel’s history that is difficult to reconcile with a loving God.
Jephthah, the son of man of the tribe of Manasseh by a prostitute, is called upon by the people of Gilead to lead them into battle against the kingdom of Ammon, which had invaded their territory. Jephthah, described as “a mighty warrior,” vowed to God that he would sacrifice as a burnt offering “whatever [or “whoever”] comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return.” (Judges 11:30–31).
This illustrates the foolishness of swearing a rash vow to God. It is also evidence that the Bible has not been edited over the centuries, for surely an event like this would have been deleted to remove any hint that Jephthah’s vow and subsequent sacrifice was acceptable to God.
However, not all scholars believe that Jephthah’s daughter became a burnt offering. The Septuagint translation suggests that she was instead dedicated to God through a vow of chastity. In that time, being childless was normally considered a mark of shame. For more on this, see “Did Jephthah Kill His Daughter?” by Solomon Landers at Biblical Archaeology Society Online (link: https://www.baslibrary.org/bible-review/7/4/15) and “Daughter of Jephthah: Bible” by Karla Bombach at the Jewish Women’s Archive (link: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/daughter-of-jephthah-bible).
It appears the real sacrifice was the end of Jephthah’s patrimony, since his daughter was his only child. By dedicating her to God, the bloodline of Jephthah came to an end.
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