Last Sunday as we looked through James 4:1-12, the topic of making our words mean something was discussed. We talked about a promise being a promise, and our words having worth.
I had mentioned an Old Testament story that signified the importance of that and not foolishly making vows, citing an account of a character who displayed commitment to his word. That character is named Jephthah and while I didn’t have the chapter and verse at the time, when I shared from my memory version, but I do know and here it is…
Judges 11:30-31 records this account of Jephthah, a Judge of Israel, as such, “And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, 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, 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.”
If you read the whole story in this chapter you come across a sad verse in Judges 11:39 that states he “did with her according to his vow which he had vowed.”
It seems that Jephthah made good on his word, but the question remains, Did he kill her or simply give her up to the temple to be a life-long servant who would never marry?
The narrative is in Judges 11:30-40 and as I researched it I learned that there is a consensus among Old Testament scholars that Jephthah may have simply offered his daughter up as a living “sacrifice” in perpetual virginity in service at the temple, since person sacrifice was expressly forbidden (Deuteronomy 12:31).
In any case, Jephthah made the point that at one time a man’s word was once his worth.