Judges 11:36 MEANING

Judges 11:36
(36) And she said unto him.--To explain this the LXX. add the words, "I have opened my mouth to the Lord against or concerning thee." There is, however, no need for the addition. His words would fatally explain themselves, even if he added nothing more.

If thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord.--The needless and incorrect insertion of the if in the English Version a little weakens the noble heroism of her answer.

Do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth.--While Jephthah, living in times of ignorance which "God winked at," must not be judged for that terrible ignorance of God's nature which led him to offer a sacrifice which, as Josephus says, was "neither lawful nor acceptable to God," we may well rejoice in the gleam of sunlight which is flung upon the sacred page by his faithfulness in not going back from his vow, though it were to his own hurt (Psalm 15:4), and in the beautiful devotion of his daughter, cheerfully acquiescing in her own sacrifice for the good of her country. Compare the examples of Iphigenia; of Macaria (Pausan. i. 32); of Au-churus, the son of Midas; of Curtius; of the Decii; of Marius offering his daughter for victory over the Cimbri; and of the Romans during more than one national panic. Our modern poets have happily seized this aspect of the event (see Dante, Parad. v. 66):--

"Though the virgins of Salem lament,

Be the judge and the hero unbent;

I have won the great battle for thee,

And my father and country are free."--Byron.

"When the next moon was rolled into the sky,

Strength came to me that equall'd my desire.

How beautiful a thing it was to die

For God and for my sire! "--Tennyson.

"It was not a human sacrifice in the gross sense of the word, not a slaughter of an unwilling victim, but the willing offering of a devoted heart, to free, as she supposed, her father and her country from a terrible obligation . . . The heroism of father and daughter are to be admired and loved in the midst of the fierce superstition round which it plays like a sunbeam on a stormy sea."

Verse 36. - My father, etc. See Numbers 32:2. The touching submission of Jephthah's daughter to her unnatural and terrible fate, while it reveals a most lovable character, seems also to show that the idea of a human sacrifice was not so strange to her mind as it is to ours. The sacrifice of his eldest son as a burnt offering by the king of Moab, some 300 years later, as related 2 Kings 3:27; the intended sacrifices of Iphigenia and of Phrixus in Greek mythology; the sacrifices of children to Moloch, so often spoken of in Scripture; the question in Micah 6:7, "Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" the Phoenician custom mentioned by Sanchoniatho (quoted by Porphyry), of sacrificing to Saturn one of those most dear to them in times of war, pestilence, or drought; the yearly sacrifice at Carthage of a boy chosen by lot ('Sil. Italicus,' 4, 765), and many other examples, prove the prevalence of human sacrifices in early times, and in heathen lands. This must be borne in mind in reading the history of Jephthah.

11:29-40 Several important lessons are to be learned from Jephthah's vow. 1. There may be remainders of distrust and doubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers. 2. Our vows to God should not be as a purchase of the favour we desire, but to express gratitude to him. 3. We need to be very well-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves. 4. What we have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us. 5. It well becomes children, obediently and cheerfully to submit to their parents in the Lord. It is hard to say what Jephthah did in performance of his vow; but it is thought that he did not offer his daughter as a burnt-offering. Such a sacrifice would have been an abomination to the Lord; it is supposed she was obliged to remain unmarried, and apart from her family. Concerning this and some other such passages in the sacred history, about which learned men are divided and in doubt, we need not perplex ourselves; what is necessary to our salvation, thanks be to God, is plain enough. If the reader recollects the promise of Christ concerning the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and places himself under this heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghost will guide to all truth in every passage, so far as it is needful to be understood.And she said unto him, my father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord,.... The conditional word "if" may be left out, as it is not in the original text; for her father had told her that he had opened his mouth, or made a vow to the Lord, and had no doubt explained it to her what it was, though it is not expressed; she knew it respected her, as it had issued, and was concerning her, as appears by her later request:

do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; which is a remarkable instance of filial subjection and obedience to a parent, and which perhaps was strengthened by a like mistaken notion as that of her father concerning the vow, that it could not be dispensed with; and therefore was moved under a sense of religion, as well as filial duty, to express herself in this manner, as well as by what follows:

forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon: such was her public spirit, and the grateful sense she had of the divine goodness, in giving victory over Israel's enemies, and delivering them from them, with vengeance on them, she cared not what was done to her; yea, desired that what was vowed might be performed.

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