A Foolish Vow Spells Death for a Daughter
11:29 The Lord’s spirit empowered49 Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh and went50 to Mizpah in Gilead. From there he approached the Ammonites.51 11:30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, saying, “If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, 11:31 then whoever is the first to come through52 the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites—he53 will belong to the Lord and54 I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.” 11:32 Jephthah approached55 the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 11:33 He defeated them from Aroer all the way to Minnith—twenty cities in all, even as far as Abel Keramim! He wiped them out!56 The Israelites humiliated the Ammonites.57
11:34 When Jephthah came home to Mizpah, there was his daughter hurrying out58 to meet him, dancing to the rhythm of tambourines.59 She was his only child; except for her he had no son or daughter. 11:35 When he saw her, he ripped his clothes and said, “Oh no! My daughter! You have completely ruined me!60 You have brought me disaster!61 I made an oath to the Lord, and I cannot break it.”62 11:36 She said to him, “My father, since63 you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised.64 After all, the Lord vindicated you before65 your enemies, the Ammonites.” 11:37 She then said to her father, “Please grant me this one wish.66 For two months allow me to walk through the hills with my friends and mourn my virginity.”67 11:38 He said, “You may go.” He permitted her to leave68 for two months. She went with her friends and mourned her virginity as she walked through the hills.69 11:39 After two months she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. She died a virgin.70 Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Israel.71 11:40 Every year72 Israelite women commemorate73 the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days.74
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