Day 92: Jephthah's Vow

Judges 9:1-57 Following the death of Gideon, the Israelites turned again to the worship of idols. Abimelech, the ambitious son of Gideon, had himself elected “king” and soon began killing ALL WHO OPPOSED HIM. During his three-year reign, he destroyed Shechem and killed all the people. He himself, however, was killed by a woman as he tried to attack the neighboring city of Thebez. The moral of this episode is that God can put into action his plan of salvation IN SPITE OF the poor or even negative response of his presumed servants. (CCC 306, 312)

Ch 10:1-18 Another unlikely judge, Jephthah, emerged while the nomadic Ammonites were oppressing the people of Transjordan. As always, the affliction imparted on the Israelites by a foreign nation was on account of the Israelites’ infidelity. We have sinned against you: The people acknowledged that they had broken communion with God. (CCC 1440)

Ch 11:1-16 Jephthah tried to defeat the Ammonites before securing divine assistance. He made a reckless vow to God, which resulted in offering his own daughter in sacrifice. The story conveys the lesson that vows are serious promises, which must not be made lightly. It was wrong to make this kind of vow since it involved a morally evil act; a vow that involves carrying out an evil act is not binding in conscience. (CCC 1202)

Ruth 4:1-22 Boaz met with the next of kin in the presence of the elders. The kinsman declined to exercise his right, so it fell to Boaz to redeem Naomi’s property and to take Ruth as his wife. Boaz and Ruth married, and Ruth became a full member of the people of Israel. She, like Deborah, ranks among the heroic women included in the Old Testament. From her direct genealogical line will come DAVID, KING OF ISRAEL, and, ultimately, JESUS, the Messiah and Son of God. (CCC 489)

Psalm 137 The mournful lament over the Babylonian Exile is coupled with somber hope of an eventual return to Zion, to Jerusalem. Music and song disappeared on account of this exile; songs meant for Temple worship could not be played for the enjoyment of their captors. Nonetheless, there were some citizens of Babylon, wrote St. Augustine, who were not believers but had a beginning spark of faith in the God of Israel that went beyond their comprehension. The ancient Babylonians as well as the people of all times will eventually encounter the fullness of faith as a consequence of their good and sincere quest for the truth. It is incumbent upon every Christian-just as was the case with the Jews in exile, who lived with an intense yearning for their home in Jerusalem-that they fervently desire their definitive home in the eternal Jerusalem in the Kingdom of Heaven. The witness and good example of the followers of Christ is the most effective way to move a nonbeliever to recognize and admit the veracity of the Gospel. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, November 30, 2005)

The Jews could never forget Jerusalem since it represented their history and God’s special predilection for them. The covenant made with the Chosen People through Moses had Jerusalem with the Temple as its most visible expression. Analogously, the Temple of the New Covenant is CHRIST and the holy city is HEAVEN ITSELF. (CCC 163, 229, 1680, 1827, 2020)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • After Abimelech, the next major leader is Jephthah, the son of a harlot. Judges opens by telling us that the people did “evil in the eyes of the Lord,” which is explained as taking foreign women as wives and then worshiping their gods (Jgs 3:5-7).

  • Given this background, it is likely that Jephthah’s mother was an Amorite.

  • This is a VITAL DETAIL, because when Jephthah wins a great military victory over the Ammonites, he must repay a rash oath he made, swearing that if he were victorious, he would offer up in sacrifice “whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me” (Jgs 11:31).

  • This kind of oath is not fitting for a faithful Israelite but is more akin to the kinds of sacrifices made by the Amorites, who offered child sacrifice.

  • Jephthah’s daughter greets him, and after giving her two months to mourn the fact that she will die without marriage and children, he sacrifices her (DUDE WHAT ON EARTH????? HOW’S THAT FOR DARK??? 😧).

  • The harlot’s son has mixed the faith of the Amorites with that of Israel, and now he offers a horrific sacrifice in the manner of the Amorites.

  • Harlotry and pagan practices are again linked and condemned.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • The Book of Judges gets darker and darker with each chapter (Or have you not noticed yet? 😉)

  • This was quite a long day for readings

  • Judges 9: Gideon is way easier to say than Jerubbaal, isn’t it?

  • So I will use Gideon

  • Gideon had 70 sons

  • Abimelech decided he wants to be king (Oh he just couldn’t WAIT to be Kiiiiiiing 🤪)

  • Gideon had set HIMSELF up essentially as king and this was one of his downfalls

  • Abimelech did the same thing

  • We find that in the Book of Judges, remember THE CYCLE

  • God blesses His people--->they turn away to other “gods”--->tragedy--->repentance--->they call out to God--->God helps them--->they are restored--->second verse, same as the first ;)

  • This happens 12 or 13 times in Judges

  • The story of Abimelech is NO DIFFERENT

  • This is not the story of HEROES

  • This is the story of PROTAGONISTS who are not necessarily all together good

  • Jephthah was a Gileadite (son of Gilead) who was a son of a harlot

  • He is rejected by his family but becomes a mighty warrior and basically a bandit

  • Kind of like “A Boy Named Sue” (my favorite Johnny Cash song is actually a cover he did called HURT....beautiful, haunting song 😉)

  • When the Ammonites come against the Tribe of Gilead, they turn to the man they rejected who became the toughest dude on the block, Jephthah

  • The problem was not that Jephthah led the battle against the Ammonites

  • He actually did a pretty good job with that battle


  • What was his vow?

  • Jephthah knows the reality of THE ONE TRUE GOD that he does not desire HUMAN SACRIFICE


  • Jephthah makes a RASH VOW

  • “God, if you give me victory, whoever comes out of my door out of my house when I come back home, I will sacrifice them to you.”

  • Ok this is kind of MESSED UP

  • We might try and bend our mind when we read this and try and justify it and say this is OK


  • The reality is, we have all of these JUDGES who do ONE THING OK and another thing VERY NOT OK

  • They have goodness in some ways, but they are FOOLISH AS WELL


  • Jephthah fulfills his vow by SACRIFICING HIS DAUGHTER!!

  • Jephthah fulfills his vow NOT BECAUSE GOD WANTED IT

  • Remember Mollock aka Molek, who was worshipped by….(POP QUIZ!!! WHO WORSHIPPED MOLEK AKA MOLLOCK? Answer in the facebook post comments!)

  • Those who worshipped Mollock offered up THEIR SONS AND DAUGHTERS IN HUMAN SACRIFICE!!


  • When the Israelites heard the story of Jephthah, they heard the story of a mighty hero who did something INCREDIBLY, MIGHTILY FOOLISH

  • How does this relate to us?

  • Recognize our need to not only make covenant with the Lord, but also to make PROMISES TO THE LORD

  • We have to recognize our need to make WISE OATHS AND WISE PROMISES to The Lord

  • If we ever feel the need to make an oath or promise God something, we must make sure it is CONSISTENT AND CONGRUENT WITH WHO GOD’S CHARACTER, WITH WHO HE IS

  • God does NOT desire the DEATH OF ANYONE


  • This rash vow that Jephthah made is a model for us TO AVOID


  • We are over 3 months into our journey 😁

  • What a gift!

  • Pray for Fr. Mike

  • Pray for each other

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and glory. We give you honor and we just declare our love for you and our gratitude for who you are and all you have given to us this day, and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”