Jephthah's Vow and His Daughter

Brian Kuehmichel
(Original: 11/20/2014)
updated: 1/14/2016




Let us examine together some scriptures that will help us to expand our understanding and clarify the peculiar situation of this special daughter of Israel. Jephthah's Daughter was an only child, a firstborn female child. First, we look at firstborns and their redemption. Second, we will examine the texts that pertain to sacrifices. Third, we show acceptable and unacceptable burnt offerings. Fourth, we view scriptures on the rights of females to an inheritance. Fifth, we review the account of Jephthah and his daughter from Judges 11:30-40. Sixth, we look at the Lord's directions for a vow or promise to the Lord and how to complete it. And seventh, we show seven items that summarize what happened to Jephthah and his daughter.


Relevant scriptures:

Firstborn:

Exodus 13:2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

Exodus 13:13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

Exodus 13:15 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that opens the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.

Exodus 22:29 Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.

Exodus 34:20 But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

Numbers 3:13 Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the Lord.

Substitution of a person for a person:

Numbers 3:12 And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine;

Numbers 3:41 And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the Lord) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.

Numbers 3:45 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.

Numbers 8:15-18 And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation: and thou shalt cleanse them, and offer them for an offering.

16 For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the firstborn of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.

17 For all the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself.

18 And I have taken the Levites for all the firstborn of the children of Israel.

Substitution by a payment:

Numbers 3:45-47 Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the Lord.

46 And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;

47 Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)

Numbers 3:50 Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: [273 x 5=1365]

Firstborn redemption / redeem:

Numbers 18:15-16 Every thing that opens the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the Lord, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem.
16 And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. [Compare: Leviticus 27:1-7]

Explanation: The males of the Tribe of Levi are substituted for the firstborn males of the other 11 Tribes of Israel. The excess amount of the males from the other 11 tribes are redeemed with 5 shekels for each person. Thus the Lord takes the Tribe of Levi, as set apart for Him, to do His special service for the Tabernacle and later at the Temple.

Application: Jephthah's Daughter does not qualify for 'Firstborn redemption' or 'payment' though she is the only child.

Substitution of an animal for a person:

Exodus 29:10-11 And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.
11 And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Exodus 29:15-16 Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.

Exodus 29:19-20a And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
20 Then shalt thou kill the ram...

Leviticus 1:4-5a And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
5 And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord...

Leviticus 3:2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.

Leviticus 3:8 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.

Leviticus 3:13 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about.

Leviticus 4:4 And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the Lord.

Leviticus 4:15 And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord: and the bullock shall be killed before the Lord.

Leviticus 4:24 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord: it is a sin offering.

Leviticus 4:29 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.

Leviticus 4:33 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.

Leviticus 8:14-15a And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering.
15 And he slew it...

Leviticus 8:18-19a And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
19 And he killed it...

Leviticus 8:22-23a And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
23 And he slew it...

Leviticus 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Numbers 8:12 And the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bullocks: and thou shalt offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, unto the Lord, to make an atonement for the Levites.

Application: Jephthah's Daughter could not be sacrificed because animals were substituted for a person.

Acceptable burnt offerings:

Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

Exodus 24:5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.

Exodus 29:18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Exodus 29:25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the Lord: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Exodus 29:28 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the Lord.

Leviticus chpt 1

Leviticus 1:3-4 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.
4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.

Leviticus 1:14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.

Leviticus 3:1 And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.

Leviticus 3:6 And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto the Lord be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.

Leviticus 3:8-10 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.
9 And he shall offer of the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire unto the Lord; the fat thereof, and the whole rump, it shall he take off hard by the backbone; and the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,
10 And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away.

Leviticus chpt 7:1-38 This deals emphatically with the vow of Jephthah. His daughter is not burned, neither is she eaten by the priest who offers the sacrifice.

Leviticus 10:14 And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons' due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.

Explanation: Three forms of substitution were designated by God to Moses for Israel.

1) to have the male Levites substitute for the firstborn males of the other tribes of Israel and the same for their animals. (Numbers 3:12, 12, 41, 45; 8:15-18);

2) to give 5 (five or more, Leviticus 27:1-13) shekels per person as a substitute to the Lord at the tabernacle or later at the temple (Numbers 3:45-47, 50; | Exodus 13:2, 13, 15; 22:29; 34:20; Numbers 3:13; 18:15-16);

3) to give an animal sacrifice in place of the person (as a burnt, peace, trespass, sin, freewill, heave or vow offering).

Application: Jephthah's Daughter could not be sacrificed because only specific animals were offered.

False sacrifices / burning son or daughter:

Leviticus 18:21 And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.

2 Kings 16:3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.

2 Kings 17:17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.

2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.

2 Kings 23:10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.

2 Chronicles 33:6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.

Jeremiah 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jeremiah 32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Application: Jephthah's Daughter could not be sacrificed as a burnt offering because this was an abomination to the Lord.

Note: Jephthah's Daughter could have had an animal sacrificed as an offering to the Lord on her behalf, but this is not the intended fulfilment of her father's vow.

Rights of females to inheritance:

Numbers 27:1-9 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.

4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.

5 And Moses brought their cause before the Lord.

6 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.

8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

9 And if he have no daughter, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren.

[Joshua 17:1-6 There was also a lot for the tribe of Manasseh; for he was the firstborn of Joseph; to wit, for Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead: because he was a man of war, therefore he had Gilead and Bashan.
2 There was also a lot for the rest of the children of Manasseh by their families; for the children of Abiezer, and for the children of Helek, and for the children of Asriel, and for the children of Shechem, and for the children of Hepher, and for the children of Shemida: these were the male children of Manasseh the son of Joseph by their families.
3 But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.
4 And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren. Therefore according to the commandment of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father.
5 And there fell ten portions to Manasseh, beside the land of Gilead and Bashan, which were on the other side Jordan;
6 Because the daughters of Manasseh had an inheritance among his sons: and the rest of Manasseh's sons had the land of Gilead.]

Application: Jephthah's Daughter does qualify for the right to 'a possession of an inheritance' because she is the only child. (Num 27:9)


The Account of Jephthah and his daughter

Judges 11:30-40 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
31 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.
32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.
33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.
34 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.
35 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.
36 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.
37 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.
38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
39 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,
40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.


The vow of Jephthah concerning his daughter.

"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, ... shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."

Instead of any animal, his daughter met him and she could not be offered as a burnt offering. This is so often misunderstood. The idea that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering is a misrepresentation of all that God said regarding burnt offerings, vows and the commands about substitution given to Israel. God does not ever sanction burning a human being as an offering. He expressed outrage and anger against those who did such abominations amongst Israel. (Leviticus 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:10, 2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23;10; 2 Chronicles 33:6) The commands about the burnt, peace, trespass, sin, freewill, heave and vow offerings contain not one shred of evidence pointing to human sacrifice as a burnt offering. Please, read them for yourself.

Explanation: Jephthah made a vow. The required offering of a fulfilled vow to the Lord included the guidelines below.

Free will sacrifices; A vow unto the Lord; and Sacrifices to fulfill a vow:

Leviticus 7:16 But if the sacrifice of his offering be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice: and on the morrow also the remainder of it shall be eaten:

Leviticus 22:18-25, 29-33 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering;
19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the Lord.
23 Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
24 Ye shall not offer unto the Lord that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.
25 Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.

The parts below specially apply to Jephthah and his vow. (Text in red)

29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer it at your own will.
30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the Lord.
31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the Lord.
32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you,
33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.

Leviticus 27:1-13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation.
3 And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
4 And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
5 And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
6 And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
7 And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
8 But if he be poorer than thy estimation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to his ability that vowed shall the priest value him.
9 And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the Lord shall be holy.
10 He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.
11 And if it be any unclean beast, of which they do not offer a sacrifice unto the Lord, then he shall present the beast before the priest:
12 And the priest shall value it, whether it be good or bad: as thou valuest it, who art the priest, so shall it be.
13 But if he will at all redeem it, then he shall add a fifth part thereof unto thy estimation. Be sure to read the rest of this chapter, it explains even more to clarify what Jephthah could and could not do to honor the Lord his God.

Numbers 15:2-4 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,
3 And will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord, of the herd or of the flock:
4 Then shall he that offers his offering unto the Lord bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.

Numbers 15:8-9 And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the Lord:
9 Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil.

Deuteronomy 12:17-18 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

Deuteronomy 23:21-23 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth..

Numbers 6:1-21 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite ... 21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed...

Explanation: The vow of a Nazarite does not apply to Jepthath and his daughter. This special vow is only taken upon themself as an adult (Numbers 6:2) who then has the personal obligation and responsibility to fulfill it. (Exceptions are Samson and Samuel dedicated before conception and birth by adult parents.) And according to the scriptures, she was neither to be burned as a sacrifice (Exodus 20:24; Numbers 15:3) nor to be eaten as part of a thank offering (Leviticus 22:29).


So then, what happened to Jephthah's daughter?

First, she became the object of Jephthah's vow when she ran out to meet him and fulfilled the conditions of his vow.

Second, he explained his vow to her and she both understood it and agreed that it applied to her. And she "came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances" which meant she was more than five years old and may have been over twenty years of age (Leviticus 27:4-5).

Third, she therefore understood the solemnity of her father's promise and of the rejoicing about his victory over Ammon while leading the children of Israel. For she said, "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."

Fourth, she was of sufficient age to have concern for the loss of natural privileges (marriage, parenthood, lineage, inheritance, etc.) while being set apart for the Lord according to her father's vow. So she asked, "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." Those 'fellows' are not guys but unmarried women of her age who also understood the ramifications of being unable to marry, bear children, be part of a new family and possibly be the mother or ancestor of the Messiah.

Fifth, she understood the intention of the vow was more than simply a cheap gratitude. It was to be genuine and costly. Since she was the first to greet her father, Jephthah, upon his safe return, she was to fulfill that aspect.

Sixth, both Jephthah and she knew the requirements and limitations (outlined above). She was not to be a burnt offering, but a freewill offering for a vow. These are specially addressed in Leviticus 27:1-13. Verses 4-5 state:

And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels. And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.

Seventh, to go beyond the perfunctory and usual payment of the required 10 or 30 shekels (as a substitute for her, Leviticus 27:4-5), she agreed to set aside her lifelong dreams and live out her life chaste as a virgin and in holiness to the Lord. For this wholehearted sacrifice, she has been honored:

"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, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year. (Judges 11:39-40)

Explanation: Both Jephthah and his daughter paid the price to have no more offspring. This ended his lineage and hers. Upon her death it transferred her inheritance to the nearest of her father's kin. But it did not end the memory of his success in battle, honest conduct and faithfulness to his vow. Nor did it end her memory for going beyond the ordinary to honor the Most High God.

Well done, Jephthah! Well done, Jephthah's daughter!