- Judg. 10:1-12:12
After Gideon's son Abimelech died, Tola and then Jair led Israel as judges for a period of time. Then the Israelites reverted back to their evil ways and GOD sent the Ammonites to oppress them. After 18 years they cried out to GOD but this time GOD's response was different than in the past.
So the LORD said to the children of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.
(Judg. 10:11-14 NKJV)
But the Israelites persisted in their pleas to GOD for help. They also destroyed the idols they had made. GOD had mercy on them again and this time He sent Jephthah. Jephthah had quite the interesting background and had become a great warrior, therefore the Israelites sought him out to lead them. Reluctantly he agreed and GOD gave the Ammonites into his hand. Prior to the battle, Jephthah made a vow to GOD:
And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.”
(Judg. 11:30-31, 34-35 NKJV)
So Jephthah gave his daughter as an offering to GOD. In addition to being extremely saddening, this story teaches us two important truths. First, we must be extremely careful what we agree to do or promise voluntarily. If Jephthah hadn’t made this oath then he could have celebrated the victory with his family. Second, GOD expects us to keep our word—whatever we promise, that we must do.
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?
(Eccl. 5:4-6 NKJV)