I asked a question regarding this story on Yahoo Answers. This is what happens in Judges, chapter 11:

Judges 11:30-31 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering".

So, Jephthah defeated the Ammonites and his daughter is the first to come out of the house when he returns. (Judges 11:32-34)

Judges 11:39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made.

I asked the Christians why they thought God would allow a girl to be sacrificed when they make such a big deal out of God stopping Abraham from sacrificing Isaac.

Only one user gave a real response and this is what he/she said: "There's one key difference between this story and the one about Abraham and Isaac. God ASKED Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove Abraham's faith. Jephthah was just stupid. He was cocky and needed to suffer the consequences of his pride."

So, apparently, some Christians believe God thinks it is moral to allow an innocent person to die because someone else has made an ill-conceived vow to Him.

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I'm sure in the minds of some Christians, the mass murdering was justified because the tribes they conquered were heathens who did not believe in the same God. A story of God allowing one of his chosen people to sacrifice his own daughter, however, goes against what they believe (especially because they like to bring up the story of God sending the angels to stop Abraham from killing Isaac).
The thing I don't understand about this is that I was always told as a kid that you can't make deals with god! You just have to do what you know is right and hope for the best. But this is exactly what Jephthah did, and he got what he want so it worked. Isn't this a contradiction?
This is good grounds for yet another stupid joke about Jews and their famed stinginess: Jephthah promised to sacrifice a male ("I will offer him up for a burnt offering"), but he short-changed God by sacrificing a less-valued female.

Now, I have to admit there's no commandment like "Thou shall not do business with the Lord".
Paragraphs like the one you quote, make me thing that both Christians and Moslims -because they accept the Old Testament; I'm not sure to what extent, if any, Jews accept it?- if they have really read and undertood the Old Testament, and still believe it, make me wonder about their ethics. Two options there: 1) the bible is to be read literally, therefore its deity is a criminal, or 2) the bible is a metaphorical book, therefore what's the metaphore there? Thye moral of the story? Maybe another option is they still believe in this deity, but it (the daity) acts in non-comprehensible and totally illogical ways?
.... has anyone else read about how in Nigeria the Christians have accused 15,000 children of witchcraft, and that the parents and pastors have actually killed at least 1,000 children recently due to accusations of witchcraft? This is happening right now as we speak in modern Nigeria.

Seriously, the God of Terror is an infanticidal neurosis. He is Molech, Bible in hand. This needs to be studied from the perspective of psychoanalysis, there's a long history of infanticide in the Bible and in the aftereffects of the Bible, starting from its very beginnings and extending all the way up to our day. As Thomas Huxley said, 'the God of the Bible is a senile delinquent'.
I just had a huge long debate with a Coptic xian (VERY fundamentalist) and this topic came up. She kept telling me that this was to show how making deals with god was wrong and how he made this deal of his own free will. I tried over and over to get her to explain why god gave him victory in this deal and all she could say was "Well, it never actually says he was happy with the sacrifice". After pulling my hair out, we moved on to a new topic.
Lookinguntojesus.net says that she was "dedicated" to the lord possibly in a temple for the rest of her life. Not how I read it, but there u go.
I wrote to a Christian apologetics website that tackles Bible contradictions:

Here is my original message:

"In the January 25, 2004 post, you stated that Jephthah did not sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering. I don't see how you can seriously interpret the scripture any other way. In Judges 11.31, Jephthah vows he will offer up as a burnt offering the first thing that comes out of his house if God helps him defeat the Ammonites, which God does.

Then, in when he returns home and his daughter comes out first he says "I cannot take back my vow" (of the burnt offering). His daughter agrees, saying "do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the Lord has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites". Clearly, she's talking about the burnt offering vow he had made.

She asks for two months to bewail her virginity and when she returns, her father "did with her according to the vow which he had made". It is never stated that he had made a vow to her that she would remain a virgin and he said that he would keep his vow (of a burnt offering) to the Lord.

As for the daughters of Israel lamenting her for four days each year, why would they mourn her having to remain a virgin? This only makes sense if they were mourning her death."

He replied with the following:

"Your inquiry prompted me to study the topic further and write an article on it which appears at www.lookinguntojesus.net/20101010.htm.

I'd be interested in hearing from you after you read the article. Do you still believe that for this text to be fulfilled, that he must have offered his daughter as a burnt offering?"

I replied, trying to remain ambiguous as to whether I was a believer or not:

"I still believe that the text clearly indicates that Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter. Perhaps Jephthah was simply defying God's commandments and Jewish law by doing so. Afterall, we hear everyday about people committing murder, theft, adultery, and many other acts that clearly go against God's commandments (and sometimes they even commit these abominations in the name of God).

King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had Uriah and his fellow soldiers killed so that he could cover up his sin and marry her. Obviously, this was against the law and against God's commandments, but it happened nonetheless.

As for the lamenting of Jephthah's daughter, I still maintain that it doesn't make sense that the women would lament her virginity, as I'm sure many women remained virgins at that time."

Finally, he replied:

"You are correct, people break God’s law every day, and we see king David doing so in the Bible. But, his sin is not glossed over or unidentified. As we read the account of David, Bathsheba and Uriah, it is made absolutely clear that David had sinned.

In the case of Jephthah, no sin is attributed to him. Neither by the writer of Judges, nor by any other Bible writer, is he identified as having broken God’s law by killing his daughter. If he did sacrifice his daughter, it would have been an abomination to God, and yet he is not condemned in the text for doing so.

The lamenting of his daughter’s virginity would be significant for a few reasons.
1) She’d never get married. This was a big goal in most women in her day.
2) She’d never have children. This went hand-in-hand with marrying.
3) She’d not be able to perpetuate her father’s house (she was an only child).

Do not underestimate how big a thing it was for his daughter to remain a virgin, and thus not have children. Consider the attention given to such a trial in the lives of Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth. Not being able to bear children would challenge their womanhood. Bearing children was part of their goal in life, and yet they were unable to. Trust me – it is a huge deal. My wife has not been able to have children. She often feels inadequate and less of a woman when she sees so many others who have children. For all those listed above, God interceded, and they finally had children. For Jephthah’s daughter, having children would never be a reality.

And, I will emphasize, the text does explicitly tells us that the daughters of Israel lamented her virginity, not her death. It not me that worded that – the Holy Spirit did."

When they bring the "you have to have faith to properly interpret the scriptures" argument into it, the conversation is over. It isn't worth having a discussion at that point.
I think the problem lies with the source of Christian morality. Since that source is god, they have to find a reason to justify why god accepted the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter to avoid labelling the act immoral. It's just easier to blame Jephthah and let god appear to be the passive receiver of the sacrifice and remain blameless (in their minds anyway).

I found out that Jewish and Christian historians, theologians, and apologists almost unanimously believed up until about 1000 AD that Jephthah had sacrificed his daughter.  Christian apologists believing this included Origen, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.


I had an email exchange with a Christian preacher about this topic and he said that Jephthah wouldn't have been included in the Hebrews 11 "hall of faith" if he had sacrificed his daughter.  I pointed out that David was included in the Hebrews 11 list despite his adultery and murder. 


The comparison to David got me thinking...perhaps it could be argued that the sacrifice was allowed to go through because it was a result of trying to barter with the Lord.  In a similar manner, the Bible says in 2 Samuel that the son born to David via Bathsheba died as a result of his sins of murder and adultery.  Furthermore, there is a clear distinction in why God stopped the killing of Isaac, but not Jephthah's daughter.  Abraham and Isaac was a test of faith that was initiated by God.  Jephthah's situation, on the other hand, was initiated on his own accord and I suspect it would be considered a sin to make a deal with God.




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