Wednesday, November 25, 2009

81: Daughters Make Good Burnt Offerings

Judges 10-12
And Jephthah 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 from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Judges 11:30-31

Chapter 10 repeats the Judges format. Israelites worship other gods. Israel somehow decides they like the "real" God again. God reluctantly sends a Judge. At the end of chapter 10 the bible says that God can bear Israel's misery no longer. Which implies that God is ok with misery up to a certain point (I guess that makes sense with all of the suffering in the world).

In Judges 11 we hear about Jephthah, a great warrior. He is ejected from Israel by his brothers because his mother is a prostitute. Of course, when the Ammonites attack Israel, they want Jephthah back to fight them. He reluctantly agrees. The Ammonites must be a large army because Jephthah makes a deal with God, and it's part of our quote of the day:
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 from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.
Long story short, he beats the Ammonites. Jephthah apparently looked over the fact that when he returned home his daughter might run out of the house to meet him. Now he has made a deal with God to sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering. Who said God didn't encourage child sacrifice?

He's going to find a loophole and get out of sacrificing his daughter right? Wrong. He gives her two months to wander the countryside and weep with her friends. Then he sacrifices her. God is silent on the matter.

Jephthah goes on to destroy the Ephriamites in chapter 12. Whenever they find an Ephriamite they ask him to pronounce the word "Shiboleth" if he can't, they kill him. I guess you just have to work on your Israeli accent to live.

This is silly news today, but it's too stupid not to write about.

The article is titled "Bruce Gradkowski: What The Bible Can Tell Us About His Future". My first reaction was who the hell is Bruce Gradkowski? He is the current Oakland Raiders quarterback. Oh no.

The article goes on to try to apply the story of Noah to the story of the Raiders quarterback. No, just say no. Bruce is the "dove" that Noah sent out. The Raiders win on November 22 was symbolic of Noah sending out the dove for the first time. Now Damali Binta YAEL (aka the idiot writing this article) thinks that they should send out Bruce two more times, just like Noah's dove.

Really Damali? Really? You're really going to try to apply the bible to sports? I certainly hope this is a joke article.

(via Bleacher Report [warning: link may contain stupid])


  1. Humorously, “Jephthah” means “He opens.” In 11:35 Jephthah says, “I have opened my mouth to Yahweh” (literally in Hebrew; NIV translates as “I have made a vow”). Jephthah “opens his mouth” rashly and attempts to “manipulate” God to victory by his statements. Yet, because God is with His people and has already prescribed what His people were to do in the covenant, Jephthah’s vow is pointless. His vow reflects his lack of knowledge of who Yahweh is and how He has chosen to work. Yet, on the contrary, Jephthah’s actions do reflect a thorough knowledge of the idolatrous practices of the nations around him whereby man tries to manipulate deity in order to get what he wants. Jephthah ironically ends up like his child-sacrificing neighbors which Yahweh condemned (Deut 12:31). Jephthah could have “redeemed” his daughter from a rash vow according to the Law (Lev 27:1-8). Yet, Jephthah has no real knowledge of this law nor a true knowledge of Yahweh.

    In all imaginable ways, Jephthah (and Israel) have become just like the idolatrous world around them. Jephthah and Israel are not devoted to Yahweh. They are devoted to themselves and attempt to mechanistically use deity for their own benefit (hence the cycle). Yahweh grows more and more “silent” throughout the narrative as Israel deviates further and further from the covenant.

    From observation of most ritualistic religions, Jephthah’s issue is common and sad. Jephthah is not in submission to the Creator of the universe who had given him life and breath. Jephthah is making himself out to be “god” by attempting to manipulate God. Even so today, man tries to be “god” by manipulating God for his own benefits—hence manipulation rituals. When you see religion doing this and you condemn it, I find common ground with you Bible365.

    Even though Israel is “delivered” by Jephthah from the hands of a neighboring oppressor that sacrifices children, who are they delivered into the hands of? Answer—a despot of their own making that sacrifices children. What Jephthah executes on his own daughter is worse than what his half-brothers did to him. How sad. Their knowledge of the one true God and His Word could have stabilized the tribes. Yet Jephthah catalyzes the destabilization of the country both religiously and politically. Fascinatingly, “Jephthah’s life is determined and ruined by the connection of the two poles: whore and virgin.” (quote from Fokkelman) Jephthah’s lineage is cut off by himself as he kills his only daughter.

  2. The passage you give for redeeming vows isn't correct. Jephthah vows to sacrifice anything that comes out of his house to God. The passage you give only applies to people who want to give the equivalent value of a person, not people who have vowed to sacrifice a person.

  3. Bryan,

    There are questions among Bible scholars regarding the relationship that Lev 27:1-8 could have had to Jephthah's vow. So the precise meaning of the Hebrew text of Lev 27:2 is in question.

    Aramaic Targum Jonathan (ancient, loose, Aramaic translation of the OT) at Judges 11:39 indicates that Jephthah could have made a monetary consecration (like Lev 27:1-8) instead of sacrificing his daughter.

    But regardless, Jephthah's vow was rash and inappropriate. The fact that he even thought Yahweh would have him fulfill that vow in that way indicates his lack of knowledge about Yahweh and His Law.



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