Did Jephthah offer his daughter as a sacrifice?

Scripture: Judges 11:30-31, Hebrews 11:32
In Judges 11 Jephthah makes a vow to offer as a sacrifice whatever came out of his house after God gave him victory. Did he offer his daughter as a sacrifice? In Moses' laws an animal was offered as a substitute. The Bible expressly forbids offering your children as a sacrifice and Jephthah is listed in Hebrews 11 as a man of faith. So, he probably did not put his daughter to death.
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Caller:  In Judges 11:30, 31, Jephthah makes this vow to the Lord - about if he's victorious he'll sacrifice the first thing out of his house.  The first thing is that it seems like, unless he has a houseful of animals, it seems like a strange things to vow.

Pastor Doug:  Well they were nomadic people back then and almost every family had several domestic animals.  They had goats and sheep for milk, wool and cheese and they had fences built around their little ranches. I used to have goats and they all ran out to meet me and domestic animals are sometimes very docile that way he figured one of his animals would come out to meet him but instead his daughter came.  He had never dreamed that's what would've happened.  Most scholars believe that Jephthah did not offer his daughter as a burnt offering because she was human and that was forbidden but what he did was offer her to the Lord like with a Nazarite vow - as a woman she could never marry and as a man with a daughter and only one daughter who could never marry, that meant that his posterity ended right there. He would have no descendents no children, grandchildren and she would never be married.  So it goes to say later that the daughters in Israel mourned the virginity of Jephthah's daughter because obviously she never married but I don't think he offered her as a burnt offering.

Caller:  In verse 39 it says he did to her what he had promised.

Pastor Doug:  But you could look in a lot of other stories, people would consecrate their children to the Lord.  If it was an animal, it was a burnt offering but in the Mosaic Law it said very specifically that you would substitute - when your firstborn child - the firstborn of the womb was to be offered to the Lord.  Your firstborn child was substituted with an animal.  And so Jephthah said that whatever the Lord gives me I'll offer to the Lord and he obviously committed his daughter to the Lord where she never married.  It was like sort of a Nazarite vow.  There's no record that he killed her, cut her throat and burnt her because God forbad doing that.  And Jephthah also, in Hebrews 11, he's listed among the faithful and you know if he had murdered his own child, I wonder if he would be in that list.

Caller:  Well that's the thing it's like, seems like maybe the Lord would have orchestrated an animal to run out first instead of his daughter or something.

Pastor Doug:  Well you know it could have been that God was testing would he follow through with his vow.  Maybe they would have made Jephthah king and all of his descendents would have been a different monarchy.  God's got His reasons. We'll have to ask Him in the Kingdom.  Thanks a lot.

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