Judges 10-12; Vows Like Mist

I always have a hard time reading about the idiotic vow Jephthah made to God, and the fact he killed his own daughter to honor that vow. God had given Israel the victory. But was that victory a direct result of Jephthah’s vow, or was it because God simply wanted to rescue the Jews? Did Jephthah’s vow have anything to do with the result? I don’t think it did.

I noticed the silence for the first time today. First, God was silent when Jephthah made the vow. God didn’t ask for or acknowledge the vow. Secondly, God was silent when the girl pleaded with her dad for a two month reprieve. And I don’t see Jephthah checking with God to get His approval for the delay. Thirdly, God was silent when Jephthah “did to her as he vowed.” I don’t read where God blessed Jephthah for following through, for killing his daughter. This seems to me to be a one sided vow.

I’ve read this before and felt the lesson here was for us to be careful what we promise God. And that is a good lesson to learn. I’ve even read it and applauded Jephthah for following through with the hard task of fulfilling his vow. But today I feel God has me looking at the kind of vows He wants of us and holds us accountable for, and for the vows He doesn’t even consider worthy to acknowledge.

For instance, when Jephthah promised to kill the first thing that came out his front door, he was promising to break the sixth commandment. That would be no different than saying, “I’ll have sex with the first person who walks out that door,” or “I’ll make an idol of the first tree I see.” Are those vows we think God would want us to honor? I doubt it.

Also, where do we see God honoring human sacrifices? Yes, I remember Isaac. But Isaac wasn’t killed. God doesn’t ask for anyone’s blood to be spilled on an altar, except that of His Son.

Sometimes people make rash promises to God, then live for years with the burden of fulling that promise, when God wasn’t even in it in the first place. It’s a waste of time and energy, it holds us chained to a cardboard wall. It’s meaningless.

God doesn’t barter. He doesn’t trade His blessings for anything we withhold from ourselves, or anything we do as a result of a one sided vow. I think what I hear Him say today is, if I have held myself captive because of a misplaced vow, I can let it go. He’s not going to hold it against me.

Make a vow to love God, to repent of sin, to follow His Son, to resist temptation. Those are vows God holds us to, and the vows He blesses. Let the Bible be the standard by which you make your vows to God.

Otherwise, that vow might be as binding as mist on a sunny day.


6 thoughts on “Judges 10-12; Vows Like Mist

    1. cazehner Post author

      Thanks for asking that. It caused me to do some digging. 11:39 tells us Jephthah “did to her as he had vowed.” Some believe that indicates that Jephthah did sacrifice her in order to keep his vow. Others say Jephthah locked her up in her bedroom and kept her captive so she could not get married, but remain a virgin for the rest of her natural life. I tend to go with the death thing. What do you think?

      1. vesselsministry

        It is one of those scriptures that creates biblical tension for sure and especially Judges 11:39 seems to indicate that Jepthah did as he vowed: However, as I dig deeper I would like to believe the way GotQuestions.org presents an explanation and understanding of this tension. “God had specifically forbidden offering human sacrifices, so God never would have wanted Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter (Leviticus 20:1-5). Jeremiah 7:31;19:5 and 32:35 clearly indicates that the idea of human sacrifice has “never even entered God’s mind”. We cannot read beyond what scripture says but only know that God is just and God is good and that Jephthah was placed in the Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11 -12. It would be difficult to reconcile that God would not be faithful to himself and therefore I would like to think that Jephthah did not offer his daughter as a human sacrifice but rather offered her as a sacrifice to God for service in the tabernacle [just as Hannah offered Samuel] and therefore that is why she was mourning the fact that she would never marry instead of mourning that she was about to die. This would also be a great sacrifice for Jephthah since his daughter was his only child. But overall, the scripture serves to teach us not to make foolish vows or oaths and that is what I would like to think about the tension of this story and it is definitely “More than Morsels”. Amen!

      2. cazehner Post author

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. You bring up so many good points to consider. It is certainly one of those Scriptures that isn’t exactly clear. Like you, I would like to believe Jephthah didn’t kill his daughter. That is an action against God on so many levels. We can’t be sure what “did to her as he had vowed” exactly means. But I totally agree that we all need to choose our words carefully, the vows and oaths we make before God are not to be taken lightly. As always, I appreciate your input. And I will check out GotQuestions.org. Looks like a good resource! God bless you. You are a blessing to me.

  1. vonhonnauldt

    I’ll admit I don’t understand all that’s involved with Jepthah and his daughter. Regardless of what we make think about it, he IS included in the hall of heroes in Hebrews 11:32, along with some others who cause raised eyebrows: Gideon, Barak, Samson.

    1. cazehner Post author

      Oh wow. Thank you for pointing that out. I did not make that connection. It speaks to the redeeming work of our Lord who blesses the faith of even sinners, doesn’t it? Of course, none of those listed in Hebrews was listed because of their sin, and their inclusion here doesn’t mean God overlooked the sin. But I am praising Him today that by their example, I can know that no sin is too big for God to forgive, no faith put in Him to insignificant for Him to produce great things. I think of David named there, an adulterer who ended up being described as “a man after God’s own heart.” Thank you so much for pointing me to Hebrews. It really does complete the picture for me. In the end, Jephthah wasn’t remembered for killing his daughter. He was remembered for putting his faith in God and winning battles. I’m so glad about that! God bless you, my friend. I appreciate you more than you know.


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