Archive

Donations

wait
wait

 

30 Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand,
31 then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering."

NASBu  Judges 11:30-31
 

SAB contradiction 272 (by book)
 

The promise

Jephthah had made a promise to offer as a burnt offering whatever came out of his house, if he returned from war as a victor. When he returned, the person, who came up to him out of the door of his house, was his only child, his beloved daughter. Did he really sacrifice her?
 

Five indications against slaughtering

It is indeed an old medieval conviction that the girl was slaughtered by her own father, which is held even until today by many commentators and Bible translators. Nevertheless there are also many commentators that have opposed this idea. They hold that the girl was not slaughtered because:

1. Human sacrifices were not permitted in Israel in contrast with many neighbouring countries.
2. Jephthah is presented in the New Testament as a hero of the faith and not as a primitive barbarian. (Hebrews 11:32)
3. Jephthah certainly knew what God had revealed about the subject in the Law of Moses. (Judges 11:12-27)
4. The girl didn’t mourn because of her death, but because of her virginity (and childlessness). (Judges 11:37)
5. The prophetic author closed the story with the remark that the girl did not have relations with a man and not that she was killed.
 

Mistranslation

The old point of view that the girl was slaughtered still, has defenders today. However one must consider the fact that the Hebrew word ‘wuh’ does not always have the meaning ‘and’, but in fact may also mean ‘or’ (Lexicon: Koehler/Baumgartner 1953, s.v. 6). E.g.: this man OR his wife (Genesis 26:11); his father OR his mother (Exodus 21:17); whose word will stand, Mine OR theirs? (Jeremiah 44:28). More examples can be cited.

The correct translation must therefore be: “… it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, OR I will offer it up as a burnt offering." The fact that old exegetes didn’t see this due to a limited knowledge of the Hebrew language, may be understandable. But that the mistranslation (using ‘and’) is to be found in many Bibles today is a real shame.
 

Jephthah’s options

In his promise, Jephthah reckoned with two possibilities: Firstly an individual, a slave (male or female), could come out or secondly an animal. In the first case he could bring that person to the tabernacle as a servant (e.g. Exodus 38:8, 1 Samuel 2:22); in the second case, if it was an animal, he could sacrifice that. ‘The doors of my house’ means the doors that gave entry to the courtyard surrounded by the rooms of the house.
 

Conclusion

We have to do with a serious mistranslation, but the Hebrew Bible doesn’t reveal any contradiction or discrepancy in this segment.
 

No Bible Contradiction