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 should point out that I've also heard some Christians argue that the phrase "burnt offering" was a mistranslation and that it actually meant "sacrifice". In the story, it says Jephthah's daughter never knew (had sex with) a man. They argue that her lifelong virginity was the sacrifice Jephthah made to the Lord. The apologists are trying to say that the Bible was not using "sacrifice" here in the same context it does everywhere else in the book. I don't buy that at all. At the time the Old Testament was written, I doubt there was more than one meaning for the term.
Well the other important distinction is that Isaac was MALE and Jepthah's daughter wasn't.
I actually believe this is the best and greatest point made so far, considering the society OT was written in, where women were seen as lesser beings. Women were worth less than men. Then there's the part of sexual=religiuos purity along with it... I don't know the verse particularly well, but I'd give it a random shot and say the only reason why it was ok for Jepthah to sacrefice his daughter was to keep her spiritually clean or anything else silly in that manner.

I could try to study the verses more later at BibleGateway and see if I can come up with anything more in the lines of a literary/anthropological analysis.
Well said..
If Jephthahs daughter continued to live after he had kept his vow,which its clear she did from the last verse in the chapter then its obvious it didn't mean human sacrifice did it?

Read the chapter and not just the bits that interest your ideas.
I did read the chapter. This is the last verse:

Judges 11:40 "It became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year."

If the daughters went year by year to mourn her, wouldn't that indicate that she was sacrificed? If you take the chapter at face value, it is clear she was burnt as a sacrifice.

Judges 11:39 states that she returned to her father, "who did with her according to the vow that he had made," which was to offer up to the Lord "as a burnt offering" whoever came out of his house first to greet him, which was his daughter.  So she came back, still a virgin, and he killed her and burned her body, after which arose a tradition of mourning her.

Note that Jephthah makes his vow after "the spirit of the Lord came upon" him, not before.  His religious fanaticism may have kept him from thinking clearly, or he wouldn't, as a man of faith, made such a vow.

Y'know though, really, at the end of the day, hearing people arguing about the technicalities of interpreting ancient sacred writings is a lot like listening to a pair geeks arguing about the technicalities of rule interpretations in Dungeons and Dragons.
Yes and if players of Dungeons and Dragons kept insisting that the real world live by the rules of their game and getting laws passed to make sure we did then maybe the rest of us would join in with their arguing of arcane technicalities. Ridiculous as it is, wars have been fought and millions of people have died as a result of christians' arguments about just this sort of minutiae.
Hahahaha, curbstomped.
Than you Dannyisme for sharing your scholarship. I wish that I knew more of the mythology of the ancients.

I sometimes have trouble with trying to understand what "really" happened in a bible verse when there is no evidence that any of it did. It's possible that the characters existed, and possible that they did not. That they spoke to Yahweh is possible, but that Yahweh spoke back would mean to me that they were delusional. If the characters are fictional, then what do we mean buy what "really" happened? Is it what the first author meant when he/she told the story for the first time? Is is what the first scribe meant when the story was first written down? Is it what the compilers of these legends meant, when they chose some to go into the books, and others to be lost? Do we ask these same questions, say, about what "really" happened in the Iliad?

That being the case, then the story sounds more like mythology, which doesn't have to make sense. Some myths probably were morality tales. Maybe the meaning of this one is "Don't promise too much to your god, he might make you regret it." Or maybe it was "Your god is capricious and cruel. If you make deals with him, you will regret it." Or maybe it was that the sins of the parents are passed on generation after generation, so if you are a harlot, your son and your granddaughter will pay a severe price.

Human sacrifice to gods has been documented in various cultures around the globe. The scape-goat idea, where a human dies so that the god will be appeased, carried on into the middle ages and beyond with 'trials' of 'witches', convenient infidels, people who were in the way of power and wealth, and Jews. Is it concidence that many of these cases included burning at the stake, same as earlier sacrifice of meat to Yahweh?

As usual, I have more questions than answers.
Mardukdammit, now I have another book to read and no time to read it! Thanks for the reference, it sounds fascinating.



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