“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord.He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord the firstthing coming out of my house to greet mewhen I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as burnt offering”
In just six verses a young unnamed woman is mentioned. Ironically her grandmother was a harlot who brought forth a strong soldier, warrior and leader called Jephthah. Jephthah’s father was Gilead (Gilead in Hebrew means “Hill of Testimony”).
Jephthah had a grueling experience as a child. He was sent out from among his brethren because they believed he was of a strange woman. However, God groomed him and Jephthah built an army of worthless men. Then the leaders of Gilead searched for him to lead them into battle. Jephthah is he who went into battle without recording a loss.
“Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites and the Lord handed them over to him.
In a great defeat Jephthah struck them down from the city of Arooer to the area of Minnith…
So the Ammonites were defeated by the Israelites.” Judges 11: 32
Jephthah conquered the strongest armies of that time and had unbeatable victory.
The Bible does not give us any details of his wife save his only daughter who as a mark of celebration for her Father’s outstanding victory comes out jubilant and playing the “tambourine.
A brief study on the “timbrel, tabret or tambourine” -as popularly known- traces its roots back to the Bible and was further associated with women of ancient Middle East. The little instrument has a little drum with metal jingles attached to make the rhythmic sounds. The dancer shakes or hits the top with her hand, against the leg or arm.
The timbrels were a symbol of celebration and associated with dancing as in Exodus 15 verse 20; “Then Miriam the Prophet Aaron’s sister took a tambourine and led all the women in rhythm and dance.”
It was also an instrument of praise to God; “Praise his name with dancing accompanied by tambourine and harp (Ps.149 verse 3).
This young lady gave her Father a warm Jewish welcome- I imagine how hard she danced to applaud and encourage his brevity- only to be greeted by her Father’s show of brokenness on account of the vow he had made to the Lord in battle. Jephthah tore his garment as a sign of grief and pain because the vow could not be revoked.
I wonder if Jephthah did not think of the implication of the vow he made before making such a rash utterance knowing he had no others sons or daughters save this young damsel.
The beauty of this whole story is her willingness to let down her life as a sacrifice just like the only begotten son was given as a ransom for our sins though it’s nothing to be compared with Christ.
She knew no man because she was a virgin yet she did not struggle with her Father over satisfying her desire to marry before being sacrificed to the Lord. She only asked to go to the mountains for two months to mourn and bid her friends farewell since she would never marry.
How willing are we to give to the Lord the only most important thing in our lives when he needs it most? That thing maybe YOU or ME as Romans 12 verse 1 speaks that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God for this is our reasonable SACRIFICE.
I am not sure I would give up an only child or my only car but she forfeited the pleasures and comforts of this life to die in an excruciating manner. But that affirms the awesome and unquestionable attributes of God. He may have orchestrated Jephthah to give up the thing he held so dear for futuristic purposes (who knows).
Most times God shows us how attached we are to the things of this life. He disciplines our flesh by taking away the very thing we treasure the most (to him they maybe weights not needed for the next level of our lives).God emphasizes that nothing in this life belongs to us, all things are a gift from God and since he is the giver, he can require of them at any given time.
Oh! Thank Jesus for offering his life in our place but he still makes demands on us to give to him one thing we treasure or hold dear. He will not ask for one out of twenty, but the only thing we hold as dear as a sacrifice to Him.
Jephthah recorded more victory after the death of his ONLY daughter.
Salient lesson: One thing God will require from us will cost a great price.