Jephthah’s Daughter – Dictatorial parents

Jephthah’s Daughter

Do you remember Jephthah? He fought for Israel as a judge, as God’s deliverer. However, while he was an effective leader of the nation, he made some grave mistakes in his leadership at home. You see, Jephthah was a dictatorial parent. Before battling the Ammonites, Jephthah prayed in Judges 11, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering." What in the world does he think is going to come out of his house, the pet dog? Dictatorial parents often say things in an exaggerated way; "You’re grounded for two years!"

And that’s exactly what Jephthah does. He wants so badly to win that he’s willing to sacrifice whatever it takes – even his own family. Let’s look at the rest of the narrator’s comments: "Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow’" (Judges 11:34-35).

Do you hear what I heard? He’s blaming her for his stupidity and his rash vow. But his timing is perfect. Dictatorial parents and spouses are always blaming others for their own failures. Ultimately, they disregard the lives of those that God has placed in their care, and become fixated on the emotions of the moment. In the midst of life’s battles, we can trust in a God who demonstrated his love for us by allowing His own Son to die; otherwise, we will sacrifice our own children on the altar of selfish pursuits.

Reblogged from: Lamplighter

One thought on “Jephthah’s Daughter – Dictatorial parents

  1. This is one possible explanation for Jephthah’s rash promise, or why his story is in the Bible. I believe everything in the Bible is interconnected as part of a bigger picture and also there in its own right to teach us a lesson.

    I also believe that Jephthah’s daughter wasn’t physically sacrificed, but rather where it says the young women go up to mountains to bewail her, they joined her annually in her mourning of her virginity. We can’t in our day understand how women back then suffered because of childlessness. Apart from cultural stigma — they were losing their opportunity to be a possible mother to the coming Messiah. Jephthah’s loss was worse because his daughter couldn’t carry on his line or give him grandchildren.

    But even if we say she was literally sacrificed, we get a flash of the bigger picture in this closing line: we can trust in a God who demonstrated his love for us by allowing His own Son to die… God gave His Son to die for us so that we can have the victory over sin. As in the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, in Jephthah we get another picture of a father having to give up his only and very beloved child –however rash his vow — because of Israel.

    Could the Spirit have brought him to say this, so that he too would be part of the bigger picture? But if not, if I’m only grasping at straws, one thing this story shows me is that if I make a commitment to God, I must keep it — no matter what precious dreams it may cost me. Don’t make rash promises…make sure that it is God’s leading…but when we vow, we must carry through.


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