The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleJudges 11:39
And it came to pass at the end of two months she returned to
For the request she made was not a pretence to make
her escape out of his hands; but having done what she proposed to do,
and the time fixed for it being come, she returned to her father's
house, and delivered herself to him:
who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed:
but what he
did is a question, and which is not easily resolved; some think he
really sacrificed her, through a mistaken sense of (Leviticus 27:29) and which
his action are accounted for through his living a military life,
and in a distant part of the country, and at a time when idolatry had
greatly prevailed in Israel, and to such a degree as it had not before,
and no doubt that branch of it, sacrificing children to Molech; and
Jephthah might think that though that was sinful, yet such a sacrifice
might be acceptable to the Lord; and especially since his vow, as he
thought, bound him to it; and how far the instance of Abraham offering
up his son Isaac might encourage him to it, cannot be said: of this
mind were Josephus F11, Jonathan Ben Uzziah the Targumist, and some
other Jewish writers F12; and many of the ancient Christian fathers,
and many modern authors of every name among Christians; and it has been
thought that the story of Iphigenia, who Capellus F13 thinks is the
same with Jepthigenia, that is, the daughter of Jephthah, and was slain
by her father Agamemnon, having several circumstances in it similar to
this, is taken from hence: and there is much such a case as this
related F14 of Idomeneus, a king of the Cretians, who upon his return
after the destruction of Troy, being in a tempest, vowed, should he be
saved, that he would sacrifice the first he met with to the gods; and
as it was his son he first met with, he sacrificed him; or, as others
say, would have done it, but was prevented by the citizens, and who on
this account drove him from his kingdom. But others are of opinion that
what Jephthah did according to his vow was, that he shut up his
daughter, and separated her from the company of men, and obliged her to
live unmarried all her days, and therefore she is said to bewail her
virginity. Kimchi and Ben Melech say, he built a house for her without
the city, where she dwelt alone, and knew no man; and where her father
supported her, and obliged her to live all her days; and Abarbinel
thinks, that the Romanists from hence learnt to build their cloisters
to put their nuns in; and so Ben Gersom interprets this vow of her
being separated from men, and devoted to the service of God; and which
is the sense of many Christian interpreters. Now though Jephthah had no
such power over his daughter, as to oblige her to perpetual virginity,
nor did his vow bind him to it; for persons devoted to the Lord were
not obliged to abstain from marriage, nor have we any instances of a
monastic life in those times, nor among the Jews at any time; yet as he
did something not right, which he thought his vow obliged him to, one
would be rather tempted to think, in charity to him, that of the two
evils he did the least; for if she was put to death, it must be done
either by the magistrates, or by the priests, or by Jephthah himself;
neither of which is probable:
and she knew no man;
never married, but lived and died a virgin: "and
it was a custom in Israel"; the Targum adds,
``that a man might not offer his son or his daughter for a
burnt offering, as Jephthah the Gileadite did, and did not
consult Phinehas the priest; for had he consulted Phinehas
the priest, he would have redeemed her with a price;''
so Jarchi, according to (Leviticus 27:4) but each stood upon their honour, as
the Jews say F15; Jephthah being a king would not go to Phinehas, and
Phinehas being an high priest; and the son of an high priest, would not
go to a plebeian; and so, between them both, the maiden was lost: but
the custom refers to what follows.
F11 Antiqu l. 5. c. 7. sect. 10.
F12 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 60, fol. 52. 3. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 37. fol.
F13 De Voto Jephthae, sect. 12.
F14 Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 22. Servius in Virgil.
Aeneid. l. 3. col. 693. in l. 11. col. 1634.
F15 Bereshit Rabba & Vajikra, ut supra. (F12); Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 3.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Judges 11:39". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=jud&chapter=011&verse=039>. 1999.