Jephthah’s Vow – Judges 11

“When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. ‘Oh my daughter!’ he cried out. ‘You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.’” (Judges 11:35)

In this chapter tells the story of Jephthah the Gileadite. His father’s name was Gilead and his mother was a prostitute. When he grew up, his brothers kicked him out of home because he was the son of a prostitute, and they didn’t want him to gain any inheritance from their father. (Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil?) Well, it ends up that the elders of Gilead asked Jephthah to lead their people against the Ammonites, although he was an outcast. He agreed, but before going to battle, he made a vow to the Lord- that whatever came out of his house greeting him after the victory, would be sacrificed to the Lord. Well, he won the victory, but his daughter came out dancing with joy, and he sacrificed her after she mourned her virginity for two months.

This is a tragic ending to a victorious defeat. What on earth made him make a vow like that? Sure, he didn’t know his daughter would come out greeting him, but what else would have come out? He said “whatever comes out of the door of my house-” house – not his shed or his barn- his house!!! Did he have a pet dog or cat he wanted dead? Sheep, goats and bulls don’t live in houses, not even in those days, right? So I really don’t understand it, but he made a vow nonetheless, and had to fulfill it. The law clearly states in Deaut 12:29-31; 18:9-10 that child sacrifice was prohibited, but Num 30:2 also says that a man must not break his vows! So which one do you obey? Well, he had to keep his word rather than his daughter. It was a truly foolish vow. Examples like this is probably why Jesus said don’t ever make a vow- not by heaven, for that is His throne- nor by the earth, for that is His footstool, nor even by your own head, for we cannot turn one hair black or white. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, and that’s it. Anything more than that is from the evil one. (Matt 5:33-37) After this account, it makes sense that vows are from the evil one, for what else brings such destruction to a family than this foolish vow? Surely, he half expected that one of his family members would come out of his HOUSE greeting him (or a servant perhaps, but still human!), no one in their right mind would think otherwise. So don’t make any promises, and you won’t fall into the trap of the enemy.

“Lord, I know from Your word, making vows are from the enemy, because they trap us into making foolish decisions. I pray that my yes would be simply yes, or no, no, that I wouldn’t fall into the trap of the enemy. Give me wisdom with my words and my choices, I pray- in Jesus’ name, amen.”

*Matt 5:33-37


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