Hall of Faith: Jephthah, Sacrificial Obedience

Jephthah made the ultimate sacrifice when he chose to be obedient to God. The name Jephthah means to open.

Jephthah asked God for victory

Jephthah did not have an easy life. From the very beginning the odds were stacked against him. He was the son of a harlot and his half-brothers, through his father Gilead, drove him away. {Judges 11:1-3}

But, Jephthah rose above all of this to be made “head and chief” over the people of Gilead. {Judges 11:11}

Jephthah went to battle against the children of Ammon. Jephthah prayed “If thou wilt indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand,then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be Jehovah’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt-offering.” {Judges 11:30-31}

Gilead is in modern day Jordan…picture from Wikipedia

Jephthah went into battle and defeated the children of Ammon, who were “subdued before the children of Israel.” {Judges 11:33}

Jephthah returned home from battle with his heart full of joy.

But, who comes out in greeting to him?

“behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter.” {Judges 11:34}

Oh, how his heart broke!

“when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me.” {Judges 11:35}

His heart was breaking and he could have reneged on his vow. But, look at what he said in the rest of v.35:

“ for I have opened my mouth unto Jehovah, and I cannot go back. “

map showing Gilead

He had made a vow and knew he had to keep his promise.

He raised his daughter to be a child of faith, because she replied “My father, thou hast opened thy mouth unto Jehovah; do unto me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth, forasmuch as Jehovah hath taken vengeance for thee on thine enemies, even on the children of Ammon.” {Judges 11:36}

But, she had one request first. “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions.” {Judges 11:37}

Jephthah allowed his only daughter this final request.

Jephthah daughter ran out to greet him

“ And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew not man.” {Judges 11:39}

But, she was not forgotten. “ the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.”

We don’t know how long Jephthah lived after the death of his daughter. But, we do know “And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.” {Judges 12:7}

We don’t know when in his reign the daughter died, but Jephthah was faithful to God. His

Jephthah daughter was loved by her friends and father

heart had to break for his only child after his death.

So, what can we learn from Jephthah?

1. Jephthah was unlikely to become chief, but God put him there

2. Jephthah kept his promises to God

3. Jephthah raised his daughter to be faithful

4. Jephthah trusted God for provision

5. Jephthah kept his vows

Jephthah faithfulness places him in the Hall of Faith. He made the ultimate sacrifice in his decision to be obedient to God.

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