Seeds of Promise Series by Shenica Graham

Seila: Jephthah’s Daughter

Women of The Bible

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Seeds of Promise Women of the Bible Seila: Jephthah’s Daughter Judges 11 Audio

Devotional Reading: Judges 11:1-6 AMP

Jepthah was a son of Gilead; and he had seventy brothers. However, the sons of Gilead and his wife exiled Jepthah because he was the son of Gilead that a harlot bare to him. Thus the sons of Gilead’s wife said the Jepthah that he would not have an inheritance among the “legitimate” sons of Gilead. Jephthah feared for his life and fled from the land of his father and his half-brothers. Apparently Jepthah was a magnet for shady people; as the Word says that worthless men gathered themselves to him. Jepthah may have adopted a less than noble character, thus attracting people who were similar to him.

There came a day when the Ammonites warred against Israel. Consequently, the elders of Gilead sought to bring back Jepthah to help them fight – because Jepthah was a courageous and savage fighter. The elders asked Jephthah to return from exile in the land of Tob, and to be their general when they fought against the Ammonites.

Devotional Reading: Judges 11:7-18 AMP

Jephthah made a deal with the Elders of Gilead. In exchange for fighting for them, he would become their leader after the war was won. Initially Jephthah tried to make peace through diplomacy, sending letters to the enemies of the Isralites. None of the kings to whom Jephthah sent messengers agreed to the peaceful passage that Jephthah requested. Therefore, Jephthah prepared the people to go to war.

Devotional Reading: Judges 11:19-27 AMP

19 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, Let us pass, we pray you, through your land to our country. 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people together and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. 21 And the Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22 They possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon even to the Jabbok, and from the wilderness even to the Jordan.23 So now the Lord God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel, and should you possess them?24 Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all the Lord our God dispossessed before us, we will possess. 25 Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive against Israel or did he ever go to war with them? 26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities along the banks of the Arnon for 300 years, why did you not recover [your lost lands] during that time? 27 So I have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong to war against me. The Lord, the [righteous] Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.

Gideon charged God, The Righteous Judge to judge between the Israelites and the Ammonites. Fortunately for the Israelites, they had repented of their most recent harlotry with the idol gods of the surrounding peoples. Thus, when the King of the Ammonites attempted to defy Jephtah, God got involved in the situation and “The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.”

Devotional Reading: Judges 11:28-31 AMP

28 But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the message Jephthah sent him. 29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 Then whatever or whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or him up as a burnt offering.

Jephthah made a vow to God that a certain offering would be made to Him when Jephthah’s army defeated the Ammonites. Apparently, the literal translation of Jephtah’s vow would have been an abomination to God if the first to come to Jephthah was a person. However, Jephthah did not consult with the prophet of that era – which was Phineas, son of Eleazar. And it is said that Phineas thought himself too high of an authority (under God), that he should not have had to go to Jephthah, but that Jepthah should have come to him. The result of their lacking communication resulted in the loss of life (or loss of abundant living) of Jephthah’s daughter, who was the first to come out to greet him – and who was his only child.

Devotional Reading: Judges 11:32-40 AMP

32 Then Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord gave them into his hand. 33 And from Aroer to Minnith he smote them, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-cheramim [the meadow of vineyards], with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the Israelites. 34 Then Jephthah came to Mizpah to his home, 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 when he saw her, he rent his clothes and said, Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you are the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth [in a vow] to the Lord, and I cannot take it back. 36 And she said to him, My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what you have vowed, since the Lord has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 And she said to her father, Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander upon the mountains and bewail my virginity, I and my companions. 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 At the end of two months she returned to her father, who [a]did with her according to his vow which he had vowed. She never mated with a man. This became a custom in Israel— 40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to mourn the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Jephthah’s daughter was willing to submit to her father’s vow, suggesting that she already had a reverent fear of the Almighty God. However, she asked for time to mourn the reality that she would not have the life that perhaps she had envisioned for herself – including possible marriage and motherhood. Some traditions hold that Seila was not made to pass through fire as a burnt offering, but was consecrated to the LORD, much in the way a nun would be – giving total life service to God and knowing no man as a wife.


Source:

Jewish Women’s Archive. Daughter of Jephthah: Bible. http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/daughter-of-jephthah-bible. Accessed April 4, 2015

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