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Jephthah’s Daughter, a Youth Any Father Could Be Proud Of

Updated on December 15, 2019
OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image

Over three decades ago I become interested in the Bible, having drank from the heavenly cup once, I have not been tired to drink more

Jephthah's Daughter
Jephthah's Daughter

Israel After The Death of Elders in Brief

After the Israelites adventures in the wilderness they eventually got into the promised land, Canaan land, which was promised their fathers and by extension them by Yahweh. Some portions of the land were shared among some tribes by Prophet Moses before his demise while the larger portion was shared by Prophet Joshua unto the people.

However, as all humans have signed pact with death and each person would pay its pact at different times, occasions and under different circumstances. All the leaders and older ones who knew what happened in the wilderness died and people of God started being without a substantive prophet neither a leader.

Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?(Jdg 1:1)

And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim. (Jos 24:33)

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.

And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash.

And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:(Jdg 2:7-11)

As they were without substantive leaders, they start asking for which tribe would bell the cart first at the initial, but when those people who knew how to seek the face of the Lord for directions died, the people of God went astray, they started doing what they like, for they assumed all that happened in the wilderness happened to their fathers and they shouldn’t be tied to the past again, they need to move forward, forge ahead with life.

Therefore, they started worshiping other gods according to what the peoples and nations that surround them were doing.

Having gone astray from the Lord, Yahweh was moved to anger, and he started handing them over to those enemies whom they were serving their gods.

Prophet Moses anointing Joshua
Prophet Moses anointing Joshua

It usually goes from bad to worse for believers when they go and join the unbelievers in worshiping their gods, things become terrible for those believers, because the God they left would be angry with them as it happened to the Israelis and the new gods they have ran to wouldn’t be there for them, because there is much on its neck than facing their case.

And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.

And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. (Jdg 2:7-11)

Covenant Reviewed

However, after they have suffered a while they would come back to their senses and would return to Yahweh in their heart, started doing what was right before Yahweh and whenever they start to do this, Yahweh would again come to their aids and would raise someone for them who would clear their mess and deliver them from the hands of their enemies.

Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. (Jdg 2:16)

After doing this for a while, after they discovered that they were at ease, they will return into their vomit and would start doing what was illegal, what the Lord does not want, ignoring and not listening to such leader again.

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. (Pro 26:11)

This cyclic event continued until Yahweh became wearied of them and he has to review the covenant he has made with their fathers. The covenant made with their father was that he would give unto their children the Canaan land, that he would drive out from the land all those who were living there.

This covenant was reviewed while they were in the wilderness with God through prophet Moses telling them that he will surely give the land unto them.

However, he said this he will do if they continue to obey his words and keep his covenants but if they failed to abide by his words neither keeping to his covenants, that he would surely not drive away from the land those who were living there.

This was essentially what God did, he reviewed the covenant and would not drive out those thorns in the flesh of the nation of Israel again.

And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;

I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:

That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.

Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua. (Jdg 2:18-23)

It should interest us to also know as God’s heirs on earth that whenever we do what God is not happy with, whenever we do not obey God’s words, whenever we misuse the grace God has given us, he will surely review the covenant he has in his words with us and would not abide by those covenants again but would punish us.

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The author of the epistle to the people of Hebrews aptly puts it right as this that,

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Heb 10:26-27)

This was the position of the nation of Israel afterwards, whenever they had a deeper thought, reflecting on their ways and returned unto Yahweh, he would also raise up a good judge for them, a leader who will deliver them and instill the word of the commandments in the land again.

Jephthah
Jephthah

Let Me Bring You to Speed on Jephthah

It was during this time that the father of Jephthah lived in the land, and because the Lord has granted the people the permissible will of marrying more than one wife, his father went in to a harlot, probably with the mind of marrying her, and this harlot took in and the child she gave birth to turns out to be Jephthah.

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Mat 19:8)

Jephthah in Hebrew is written as “יפתּח”, the Romanized form is yiphtâch (phonetic spelling is yif-tawkh') and it means “he will open”, Yahweh will open.

For whatsoever reasons, what Gilead the father of the Jephthah thought he would do, marrying Jephthah’s mother legally and according to the culture and custom of the land he couldn’t do until he gave up the ghost.

However, all the family members, other siblings and the wives of Gilead knew that Jephthah was the son of Gilead because he has been living with them, with the family before the man’s demise.

Jephthah and his brethren before he fled
Jephthah and his brethren before he fled

He Was Cast Out

After the death of Gilead, and the family members wanted to share the properties of Gilead among his children and others, they revolted against Jephthah that he cannot be a part of the inheritance because his mother was not legally married before their father’s death.

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. (Jdg 11:1-2)

Though Jephthah was a mighty man of valor, a powerful man, but he fled from his family members primarily because they were many who rose against him and as it was then, it was physical battle, if he will say he will confront them, they will overpower him and on another note because he does not want to destroy his family, because as we later read that he has had followers then, if he says he would rise and fight with them he would eventually destroy his family, wipe them out and then the people would have every right to call him bastard.

Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. (Jdg 11:3)

We need to know that sometimes it is not all that we have power to do that we shall do, we need to allow for the use of wisdom, for the use of the Spirit of God to tutor us in some things. He allowed for peace to reign for he knows that time and tide happen to everything in life.

He relocated to another town called Tob, very far from his siblings and brethren. This town according to Strong’s Hebrew dictionary is a region in the east of Jordan.

He started from the scratch in this town, and gradually God started opening ways for him according to the meaning of his name. The vain people who were following him too were being trained in the art and act of war. Those people made him their leader. Vain in Hebrew is “רק ריק”, Romanized it becomes rêyq rêq (pronounced as rake, rake) which means worthless, empty.

We should know that when one gets to a place as well as when one is starting something, the people who usually associate with one are those whom people think are not good in the society, the neglected people are those who will be associating with the person at that stage. Hardly would the creme-de-la-crème of the society start recognizing with a new entrée into a land neither someone who has not made a name in his or her chosen field except they had known or heard information about the person beforehand.

Who would give information about Jephthah considering the scenario that pushed him out of his tribe? No one among his siblings would be ready to talk about him, and if anyone dares to do that, such a person may equally be expelled by his siblings.

He thence left his people without credentials, he left with the worthless people, the outcasts, in the land, and I presume when he got to the land of Tob, those who were gathering to him too were the outcasts in the society.

Despite this, Jephthah kept his cool, he keeps his head straight maintaining himself and those under him, proving himself, by ensuring that the needs of his followers were always met. He shows himself a great leader among the people.

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Because God is a God of occasions and times, he waited until the man has raised small army for himself and then allowed the enemies to start terrorizing his tribe.

While in the land of Tob he has become a force to be reckoned with because he was shield for the country by day and night, he and his small army, those enemies could not confront them.

During this time the news of the development with his tribe, country was being brought to him but once beaten twice shy, having been sent packing from Gilead, he just feels for them nothing more than that as he faced his territory.

They Swallowed Their Pride

Soon enough his brethren called themselves together, reasoned together and they agreed that they need to swallow their pride and go and solicit for Jephthah’s assistance.

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And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.

And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:

And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.

And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?(Jdg 11:4-7)

When they got to him to ask for his assistance, he also talked sense into them and they promised to act normal, promised to do whatsoever he asks them to do, they told him that he would be made their leader.

And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, if ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head?

And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The LORD be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh. (Jdg 11:8-11)

At this instance, he returned with them to Gilead to confront the enemies. Albeit, he filed his defense before going to the battle as he talked to those enemies to back off his country and people, but the enemies would not hear, they insist on fighting with them, continuing to put them under bondage.

Since the people want to be freed, they agreed for when the battle would take place.

In the meanwhile, before the battle takes place, Jephthah went to God in prayers and made vow unto him that if he could deliver their enemies into their hands, whatever that comes out of the doors of his house to meet him shall be the Lord’s.

And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, if thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. (Jdg 11:30-31)

They went to the battle and God delivered their enemies into their hands, after they had conquered enemies and they were joyously returning home, the news of their victory has gotten to all and sundry at home and her daughter was the first person to come out of the doors of his house to welcome his father.

Jephthah was sad on discovering this, but as he has uttered that before the Lord, he does not want to go back on what he has uttered.

Some believed that what he did was influenced by the interactions they have had with the unbelievers around, because God does not sanction offering of humans under any guise.

Let us see few things about this wonderful damsel.

Jephthah’s Daughter

The name of this wonderful damsel was not stated in the book of Judges where the account of Jephthah is neither is the name of her mother mentioned. This may not be unconnected with the fact that girls and women during their days were rarely made mention of their names. It is yet on record that in the land of Israel people do not yet reckon with females unlike as it is in other parts of the world. It is being said that they are being used as a “thing”. An author in his works says when a Jew man is praying in the morning, he would thank God that he does not make him unbeliever neither like a woman. This they do because they still consider woman (females), inferior and of lesser value.

Be that as it may, we shall discover few things of note about this lady as contained in the brief history shared about her based on the incident that happened after the war.


Only Child
Only Child

1. The Only Child of The Man

This lady is said to be the only child of Jephthah. The man perhaps would have tried other ladies or women because the culture allows for men to have more than one wife, after all his mother too wasn’t the only one married to Jephthah, but despite all he did to get another child, it turns to nothing, those efforts were fruitless.

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. (Jdg 11:34)

From the foregoing we shall discover that,

(i) God is The One That Gives Children,

no amount of human efforts can yield that, that is why we found that even the invitro fertilization (IVF) is failing in some people. This is not saying that people who are having infertility (delay) to get pregnant should not try to explore all options to get a child, for we also know from the accounts of the bible that even Abraham and Sarah explored other options to get a child during their days, that was why the woman counseled that her husband had intercourse with their maid. However, we knew that their maid took in, but what Sarah expected would follow that did not follow which result in chaos in their homes and the eventual expulsion of the maid and her son later.

God does not answer the prayers of Jephthah to have another issue except this damsel.

(ii) Apple of His Eyes

It is logical to assume that this daughter was the apple of the eyes of this man, since during their time, they used to have many issues unlike now that poverty, recession and other worldly affairs have been affecting birth rate among the populace. Anyone that has a child then usually takes extra-care and extra-protection of that child would not want anything to affect the child because the person would want the child to outlive him or her. This was reflected in the life of Jacob despite having many children but when joseph was reported killed, he started paying extra attention on Benjamin and wouldn’t want anything evil to come nigh him.

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. (Jdg 11:35)

The phrase, “he rent his clothes” shows the position the child occupies in his heart, the person that one does not value one wouldn’t be sorry for whatsoever terrible things that befall the person. All that would be said is “it serves him right”.

Jephthah did not say this showing that he valued his daughter extremely, she was one in a billion for her. What happened that day shows that the victory of that day was turned to sadness for Jephthah and his entire army, yea the nation at large.

We are also apple of God’s eyes when we make him happy and do whatsoever things, he has commanded us.

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” (Zec 2:8)

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ

(iii) This is Pointing Us To God

The issue of a singular child by Jephthah is pointing us to God, that God with one child would send the child to the world and would offer the child for the redemption of mankind. His history points us to Jesus Christ.

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Those who are still looking unto God for fruits of the womb should always remember that it is God that gives children, if you have tried some scientific technologies and it has worked for you, know that there are many who have not worked for, and it is God who allows that to work for you to prove his mightiness on your case, do not for that think there is no God.

2. She Did Not Abuse Her Privilege

Some children abuse the privilege they have and more so when they discover that they are the only child of their parents and their parents are leaders in the society blessed in the society like Jephthah, they would start misbehaving, start to join bad gangs become an occultic member because they have all that money could afford.

This could in nowhere be stated about this wonderful damsel, despite being the only daughter and child of her parents, with retinue of assistants at her disposal, with different guards looking after her, yet she never misbehaved, she never made her father sad for once.

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3. Expressed Her Love For Her Father

It is clear from the incident that happened that the lady loved her father very dearly, because assuming she did not love her father she wouldn’t have come out with tambourine and dances to welcome her father. We all know how we used to react to those we do not like. We know how children used to act to the people they do not like people. If we can recollect those, then we shall know that this maiden loves her father very well.

Close friends
Close friends

4. Jolly Friends

It’s logical to say that she and her father were two jolly friends. It is possible that whatsoever decision the father wants to take he would ask her and may have confided in her on many occasions. Thus, the rapport between the father and the daughter was so close and special, that nothing can come in between them, they have been inseparable.

This is the kind of relationship God wants us to have with him through his son, Jesus Christ. If we have given our hearts to Jesus Christ but we have not developed such closeness with the Lord this is not good enough, God wants us to be his friends that is why Jesus says, we are his friends when we do what he commands.

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (Joh 15:14-15)

Happiness icon
Happiness icon

5. Happy For Her Father’s Happiness

Enemies would not be happy for one’s happiness it is those who are one’s friends who will be happy for one’s happiness. She was extremely happy for the victory which the Lord has granted her father, and this was expressed.

It is sad to know that some people are not happy for others happiness, this is not good enough, God does not encourage us to do that, God wants us to be happy with others, rejoice with others.

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Php 4:4)

Rejoice evermore.” (1 Th 5:16)

Strong believer
Strong believer

6. Strong Believer of Yahweh

She by her disposition shows that she was a strong believer of Yahweh. It is a person who believes in something that could say what she said unto her father, when her father said he has opened his mouth of what he will do when he has the victory.

And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. (Jdg 11:36)

Someone who does not believe in something would want to argue the thing out, the person would want to reason with her father why such ought not to be so, but herein we do not find that she was reasoning neither arguing with her father, but what she says was, “if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, (Jdg 11:36b).

In as much as you have been given victory I am contented with that, in as much as you have silenced thine enemies I am satisfied with that, in as much as God has put your detractors to shame I am satisfied with that, therefore do not hesitate to do what you have uttered unto me my father, this is what this word means.

This should be our satisfaction since we are in Christ, we should always say like she says that in as much as I will get to the kingdom of God where my heavenly father is, I am contented, I do not mind what the enemies are doing, we should say with the apostles that even though our house of the flesh perish yet we are happy because we have a house with God that cannot be corrupted, neither come to an end.

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Co 5:1)

7. She Was Well Taught in The Laws of Moses

Despite the background of his father, despite being the daughter of a harlot, yet his father does not allow that to weigh him down, he does not allow that to impede his relationship with God, thus, he ensures that he brings up his one and only child in the way of the Lord.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Pro 22:6)

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She was trained in the way of the Lord and when she comes of age she did not depart from the way.

8. She Knows The Implication of Her Father’s Statement Yet She Stayed

This wonderful damsel heard well what her father says, she knows the implication of what her father says, yet she decides to stay, she does not flee from the town to an unknown place with her father sending out people to look for her.

And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. (Jdg 11:37)

Chaste Detroit Women
Chaste Detroit Women

9. She Did Not Abuse Herself

Despite knowing what would happen, despite knowing that she has shorter or limited time to leave in the world, she did not for that start misbehaving, she did not for that start “man-nizing” herself, she did not for that go and become sex monger, polluting herself sexually, but she maintained herself, she maintained her integrity.

Many today would say they want to be married before Jesus appears in the sky to take home the believers, people who say something like this, when they get into a situation like this it is obvious that they would go with just anyone they see, they will pollute their bodies before they die.

And she said unto her father, let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows. (Jdg 11:37)

This lady does not do this, for she knows that we are dust and we shall return to dust, she knows that those who live by the flesh would perish but living by the spirit one would have eternal rest with God. She knows that she cannot satisfy the inordinate natures of the flesh and claim she belongs to Yahweh for Yahweh wants all to be pure and clean, Yahweh wants us to live a holy life, thus, she mortifies the inordinate natures of the flesh in her.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Col 3:5)

As a true heir of Yahweh, she maintained her virginity and did not do what was not expected of her because she was about to be killed.

Jephthah's daughter's companions
Jephthah's daughter's companions

10. She Had Good Companions

She does not belong to the group of those who would neither listen to the words of God nor doer of the word of God. Her friends are those who are doers of the word of God, her friends stand out among all other ladies in the land. because she has good companions those friends did not counsel her to do what she does not want to do. Many have backslid today because their companions advised them against their Lord and Maker, many have become occultic members today because of the companion they were keeping, Apostle Paul says, be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Co 15:33)

11. She Returned After Bewailing Her Virginity

After doing what the culture said with her peers she returned to her father and her father did unto her what he has uttered before the Lord.

And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, (Jdg 11:39)

She made do her words by returning to her father, but some hardly keep to their words today.

Jesus also returned to his father after fulfilling what he has come to the world to do, he returned to his father a chaste person thus calling on all that we should not leave out lives as we please, but we should leave out lives to please the Lord.

Jephthah's daughter's memorial
Jephthah's daughter's memorial

12. Her Memorial

The maidens in Israel also recognize the importance of what she did, and they separate four days to mark her deed while alive and to show ladies in Israel the importance of keeping themselves pure, chaste for their lovers and most especially God.

That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year. (Jdg 11:40)

Though her father could not leave a child behind neither does he left behind grandchildren because the person who would have given him grandchildren has gone to be with her maker, but the people recognized what she did, they valued it and earmarked four days to be marking her days’ on earth and I believe there is no how that they would mark those days without making mention of Jephthah in the land.

Do you also wish to be remembered after you have gone, live a life that is worthy of the gospel and you will always be remembered by people.

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