Ep. 065: Jephthah’s Vow

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Ep. 065: Jephthah’s Vow

Jephthah’s mother was a prostitute, but his father was a prominent man in Israel. Jephthah was raised in his father’s house, but when his half brothers were old enough they said, “Get out! You’re not a son of our mother, and you’re not going to inherit anything from our father.”
So Jephthah left the area. He became a great warrior and organized a gang of thugs.
During this time, the people of Israel once again rebelled against the Lord and started worshiping other gods. God allowed the Ammonites to conquer them. The Ammonites were extremely cruel, and Israel suffered under their cruelty for eighteen years.
The people cried out to the Lord and said, “Deliver us!”
The Lord said, “No! I won’t do it. I’ve delivered you over and over. I won’t do it again. Go call on your idols to deliver you.”
So the Israelites got rid of their false gods and started worshiping the Lord. They said, “Do what you want with us. We know we’ve sinned. But please, get us out of this mess!” With that, God once again had mercy on them.
The Ammonites moved into the land to fight against Israel. The Israelites went out to meet them, but they didn’t have a leader. They sent for Jephthah and said to him, “Come and lead our troops into battle against the Ammonites.”
He sent a message back saying, “You’re the same people who kicked me out! Now you’re coming to me for help?”
They said, “It’s true. We did that, but if you’ll come and give us victory, you’ll be our leader. Listen, the Lord is our witness. We will do as we’ve said.”
So the Spirit of God came upon Jephthah, and he led the people into battle. He made a vow before the Lord and said, “Oh God, if you’ll give me victory over the Ammonites, when I go home I’ll give you the first thing that comes out of my house. I’ll sacrifice it to you as a burnt offering.”
The Lord gave Jephthah victory. He totally turned the Ammonite army away and even destroyed twenty of their cities.
Jephthah only had one child, a daughter. When he went home, she came dancing out to him. She was so proud of his victory. When Jephthah saw her, he ripped his clothes and fell down. He cried, “Oh my daughter! What have I done! I’ve made a vow to God, and I can’t take it back.”
She said, “Father, you must keep your word to the Lord. He kept his part of the bargain by giving you a great victory. Now you must keep yours. I just ask one thing. Since I’ll never marry, allow me to go to the hills with my friends for two months. Together, we’ll mourn the fact that I’ll never marry.”
Her father agreed, so she and her girlfriends went to the hills. For two months, they mourned the fact that she’d never be intimate with a man and have the joy of nursing children.
She then went back home, and Jephthah fulfilled his vow. After that, it became a custom in Israel. Every year, young women went out and spent four days remembering the daughter of Jephthah.


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