|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:29-40 Several important lessons are to be learned from Jephthah's vow. 1. There may be remainders of distrust and doubting, even in the hearts of true and great believers. 2. Our vows to God should not be as a purchase of the favour we desire, but to express gratitude to him. 3. We need to be very well-advised in making vows, lest we entangle ourselves. 4. What we have solemnly vowed to God, we must perform, if it be possible and lawful, though it be difficult and grievous to us. 5. It well becomes children, obediently and cheerfully to submit to their parents in the Lord. It is hard to say what Jephthah did in performance of his vow; but it is thought that he did not offer his daughter as a burnt-offering. Such a sacrifice would have been an abomination to the Lord; it is supposed she was obliged to remain unmarried, and apart from her family. Concerning this and some other such passages in the sacred history, about which learned men are divided and in doubt, we need not perplex ourselves; what is necessary to our salvation, thanks be to God, is plain enough. If the reader recollects the promise of Christ concerning the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and places himself under this heavenly Teacher, the Holy Ghost will guide to all truth in every passage, so far as it is needful to be understood.
Verse 34. - To his house. Soever. 11. His only child (Je'hid) - the same term as is applied to Isaac (Genesis 22:2). Eusebius says that Cronus sacrificed his only son, who on that account was called Jeoud, which in the Phoenician tongue means an only son ('Prep. Evang.,' 4:17).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house,.... Where he had uttered his words before the Lord, which had passed between him and the elders of Gilead, and from whence he set out to fight the children of Ammon, and whither he returned after he had got the victory over them, Judges 11:11 and where it seems he had a house, and his family dwelt; for upon his being fetched from the land of Tab, he brought what family he had with him, and settled them at Mizpeh, while he went on the expedition against the children of Ammon:
and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him, with timbrels, and with dances; accompanied with young women, having timbrels in their hands, and playing upon them, and dancing as they came along; expressing their joy at, and congratulating him upon, the victory he had obtained over the children of Ammon:
and she was his only child: and so dear unto him, and upon whom all his hopes and expectations of a posterity from him depended:
besides her he had neither son nor daughter: some read it, "of her" (f); that is, she had neither son nor daughter; and so by this vow, be it understood in which way it may be, if fulfilled, she must die without any issue; though the phrase in the Hebrew text is, "of himself" (g); he had none, though his wife whom he married might have sons and daughters by an husband she had before him, and so these were brought up in Jephthah's house as his children; yet they were not begotten by him, they were not of his body, not his own children; he had none but this daughter, which made the trial the more grievous to him; her name, according to Philo, was Seila.
(f) Targum apud Kimchi. Vid. Masoram in loc. "ex ea", so some in Vatablus. (g) "ex se", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; so Noldius, p. 614. No. 1641.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
34-40. Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances—The return of the victors was hailed, as usual, by the joyous acclaim of a female band (1Sa 18:6), the leader of whom was Jephthah's daughter. The vow was full in his mind, and it is evident that it had not been communicated to anyone, otherwise precautions would doubtless have been taken to place another object at his door. The shriek, and other accompaniments of irrepressible grief, seem to indicate that her life was to be forfeited as a sacrifice; the nature of the sacrifice (which was abhorrent to the character of God) and distance from the tabernacle does not suffice to overturn this view, which the language and whole strain of the narrative plainly support; and although the lapse of two months might be supposed to have afforded time for reflection, and a better sense of his duty, there is but too much reason to conclude that he was impelled to the fulfilment by the dictates of a pious but unenlightened conscience.
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