Miles to go...

I have miles to go... please pray each day for the next leg of my Biblical journey!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 18: Judges 3-1

George Hicks: Lament of Jephithah's Daughter {PD-1923}
Judges 11:34 (New King James Version)

34 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.

Jephthah had promised God that in return for delivering ammon into his hands, that whoever first came out of his house to greet him, he'd offer as a burnt sacrifice.

we're back to that same old question again... would i trust God to bring about a more suitable sacrifice? could i go through with taking the life of my own child? God surely knew that Jephthah's only child would be first out those doors, and He could have prevented it and sent the family dog instead, but He didn't. would i have followed through with my promise?

God, sometimes reading your word is really difficult! i'm so grateful that you sent our son so that we wouldn't have to do burnt offerings and sacrifices anymore, but God, if we did, i can honestly say that no, i wouldn't have followed through with my promise! does that make me a bad christian? why didn't you redeem his daughter and send a more suitable sacrifice? why didn't you let jephthah off the hook so he wouldn't have to kill his child? i hate being whiny and obstinate, but God, that just doesn't seem right, and i feel very disturbed by this. help me to understand, God.

UPDATE 2012:
As I continue my studies, and journey through the Bible in 90 days each year, my knowledge and understanding grows and deepens. I now understand that Jepthah didn't actually offer his daughter as a human sacrifice. Burnt offerings to the Lord must be male, and must not be human. Rather, when a person is designated as a sacrifice to the Lord, they must be redeemed in the manner ascribed by Hebrew Law. However, the person who is redeemed must be dedicated to the Lord as a Holy Offering, and must never know any form of work... including the "work" of child-bearing and child-rearing. 

This is why scripture indicates that his daughter asked to be allowed to go spend two months in the wilderness with her companions (i.e. servants). Scripture is so clear that she went to lament her virginity, the fact that she would never have a husband. If her father intended to kill her according to the vow, it would make sense that she would go off to lament her impending death, not the fact that she'd never have a family. In their culture, being unable to have children was a fate worse than death!

Jephthah's despair makes perfect sense in this light. She was his only child. His family line would cease to exist after his death if she couldn't raise a family. For him, also, that was a fate worse than death.

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