My bible reading experience (MBRE) - brainfart #2

A quick re-write of Judges 11.34-39;

"And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes and proclaimed Alas, my daughter, I promised got that I would burn whatever I saw first on my return as a sacrifice.

And she said to him, WTF are you out of your mind? Get away from me you sick deluded pervert! and ran for the hills.

Jephthah sent out search parties and, after two months of combing the surrounding area, she was brought before her father who proceeded to slaughter and burn his virgin daughter.

This was deemed worthy of remembrance for some reason, and the women of Israel would morn her passing yearly, four days in a year."

More likely?

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Comment by Sarah Elizabeth Tygert on April 19, 2012 at 1:28pm

By far, I think this is the most difficult portion in the Bible. Considered one of the most controversial, curious, and confusing. However, what is MOST difficult in this passage for believers is the silence of it. The fact that it does not end with "And Jepthah sacrificed his daughter" leaves it as a "wtf?" passage?

The biggest problem with this passage is that very silence, and the assumption (understandably created) that the daughter was sacrificed to God. However, that's an argument from silence that can not for certain be made. The deduction that she was sacrificed can be seen in other fashions, it I may elaborate.

The first is from the fact that Jephthah himself promises God to give whatever comes out of his house as a burnt offering. We have to stop here and ask "what the hell did he think would come out of his house to greet him??!" Think about it, seriously, what did he think? Surely if he thought his wife or another person would come out, he would not have made the vow. So he's either retarded, or believed God would have divinely ordained for one of his livestock to be the first to come out of the barn (or whatever) when he returned. So either Jephthah is a little slow in not realizing that after you return home after a long war that your loved one's are most likely to rush out of the house to greet you, OR he had crazy faith that God would ordain something for him to sacrifice. Afterall, note that he says "as a burnt offering." The only thing acceptible as a burnt offering that is pleasing to God is an animal. 

Furthermore, even though he specifically says he will give whatever greets him as a burnt offering, the Torah designates how to "deliver unto the Lord" things other than livestock. Let's say his wife throws a roll out of the house to greet him, or... a chair. Would Jephthah burn the chair as a pleasing aroma to the Lord? No. The Torah designates that such an item would simply be broken down and as such, "given" to God. No one would think God would enjoy the scent of a burning chair. As for people, the Torah specifically says that God is not pleased by human sacrifice, it is an abomination. 

We can therefore imagine that Jephthah did the acceptable thing and gave his daughter to the temple to be a nun. We can more safely assume this from relooking at portions in this passage which cause us to think that she was burned. First is Jephthah's sorrowful exclamation when he sees his daughter. Why did he exclaim such? We usually think it's because he made the vow to burn whatever came out of the house. Could it be possible that he was mourning, say, her perpetual virginity? We could think this because secondly, this is what the daughter does. Why the repeated statements in the passage that she will never know a man? Why the focus on sex? Shouldn't she be more upset that she's going to... I dunno... die?? Why do the women go into the hills to weep for her virginity, not her death? Why is the last thing said in this passage is "and she was a virgin" and not "and she was burned to death"?

BUT!! Even with that argument, the passage is still silent. It simply DOES NOT SAY. And this is why it is such a difficult passage. But, what we can deduce is either 1.) Jephthah did not follow Torah, did not know that God absolutely did not approve of human sacrifice, and stubbornly held word-to-word to his vow and burned his daughter and for some reason the Bible never mentions this atrocity again, or 2.) Jephthah did the more acceptable thing by all standards and gave his daughter to serve as a nun in the temple.

What do you think? I mean, again, the passage is still silent, we simply do not and can not know because it does not say explicitly what he did with his daughter, we only know what it says and what he vowed. 

Comment by ChrisC on April 11, 2012 at 4:58am

I think that for the audio book, the part of "god" should be voiced by Julian Clary (, especially apt for the instructions regarding the arc of the covenant and the requirements for the various sacrifices. :-D

Comment by Pat on April 10, 2012 at 8:56pm

Sorry about the keyboard. It was the best I could come up with on short notice. I'm thinking about a re-write of the sermon on the mount, with the "all you can eat seafood buffet" for the masses.

Comment by ChrisC on April 10, 2012 at 8:07pm

@Pat, "and did bang him like a screen door in a hurricane." I'll have you know that I hold you responsible for the coffee on my keyboard! :-D

I would love to re-write the bible with these changes, unfortunately that would require effort lol.

Comment by Pat on April 6, 2012 at 11:28am

A re-write with a happy ending.

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.” And she said to him, “Kiss my royal ass, you fu&*ing psychopath!" So she also said to her father, “Leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.” So he said, “Go.” Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and she found a comely male sheperd in the hills, and did bang him like a screen door in a hurricane.  And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did learneth that she was no longer a virgin. And the Lord said unto Jephthah, "I told you not to let her run off, you dumbass!" And the Lord did smite Jephthah, and no one gaveth a shit that the child molester died.


Comment by annet on April 6, 2012 at 10:51am

This is hilarious.  I like John's alternative ending a lot. I hope you're going to publish a whole alternative bible with these.  I can see the Broadway play billboards now. 

Comment by John Aultman on April 6, 2012 at 10:24am

ChrisC my re-write of Judges 11: 34-39 is Jephthah's daughter runs away into the mountains and after a few days is found by a army of Amazon Warrior's.  Upon hearing her story they raid Jephthah camp kill and capture his army and and let his daughter cut Jephthah's throat and burn his ignorant misogynistic ass and at the same time his daughter is screaming to him and his god "HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW ASSHOLES"!

Comment by ChrisC on April 6, 2012 at 7:01am

@Don, that sounds about right - although it's worded to suggest that he was "asleep" while his daughters "knew him". I've never managed to "know" someone while asleep, to my knowledge. "Knowing people" is an activity most plausibly done when awake.

@Reason, it's certainly a shocker, it made me explode with wanting-to-confront-my-evangelical-workmate-ness.

Comment by Reason Being on April 5, 2012 at 11:05am

That story from Judges is, in my opinion, one of the worst in the OT.  The fact that we as a species ever upheld values like that is a shame.  The fact, that some of our species still does, is just downright tragic...and maddening

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