And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. Judges 11:30-31
Did Jephthah intend to offer his daughter as a human sacrifice? Are the ethics of God and the Bible shown to be imperfect by this incident? Should Jephthah have even made a vow at all?
If Jephthah intended to offer a human sacrifice, he would be doing something that was explicitly forbidden by Mosaic Law and that is revolting to GOD.
Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. Deuteronomy 12:31
It would be a bit bizarre for Jephthah to think that he could elicit God's favor in battle with the heathen Ammonites, by promising to offer Him a human sacrifice. This would be something the ungodly he was fighting would do and would also be in direct violation of the will of God. God certainly would not approve of such an offer or vow. God allows people to make wrong choices, even while He works out His own higher will in the midst of their illicit deeds. There are many examples in scripture. GOD does and always has, since the fall in Eden, given us our choice. He loves us enough to let us choose.right or wrong.good consequences or bad.So Jephthah made his choice.and his vow to the LORD.
If Jephthah offered his daughter as a human sacrifice, no indication is given in scripture that God actually approved of the action. The Bible records many illicit actions carried out by numerous individuals throughout history, without an accompanying word of condemnation by the inspired writer. It must not be assumed that silence is evidence of divine approval. Even the commendation of Jephthah's faith in the New Testament (see Hebrews 11) does not offer a blanket endorsement to everything Jephthah did during his lifetime. It merely commended the faith that he demonstrated when he risked going to war. Similarly, the Bible commends the faith of Samson, and Rahab the prostitute, without implying that their behavior was always in harmony with God's will. Abraham manifested an incredible level of faith on several occasions, and is commended for such. Yet he clearly sinned on more than one occasion.
Jephthah's action may best be understood by recognizing that he was using the term "burnt offering" in a figurative sense. We use the term "sacrifice" in a similar fashion when we say, "I'll sacrifice a few dollars for this or for that." Jephthah may have been offering to sacrifice a member of his extended household to permanent, religious service associated with the Tabernacle. The Bible indicates that such non-priestly service was available, particularly to women who chose to so dedicate themselves.
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Exodus 38:8
Even in the first century, Anna must have been one woman who had dedicated herself to the Lord's service, since she "did not depart from the temple" . she lived many years there, finally in her old age, she beheld her savior, Jesus!
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. Luke 2:36-37.
Did Jephthah offer his daughter in a figurative sense in service to the LORD or did he actually offer her as a burnt offering to the LORD? This question has been debated for centuries. One thing is certain, Jephthah was devastated by the situation and the vow he had made to the LORD. Imagine the conversations Jephthah had with his daughter and the pain in his soul.