A Foolish Man
Like Gideon before him, Jephthah, like many of the judges, is an overwhelmingly negative figure. It should come as no surprise that when a nation does what is right in their own eyes, that their leaders tend to follow suit. There are precious few like Deborah to be found in the book of this low point in the history of Israel.
Jephthah’s foolishness is tragically on display in his vow with God to sacrifice to God whatever he first saw, if God would give him victory over the Ammonites. His attempt to manipulate God rather than simply trusting Him takes a tragic turn when the first thing he sees is his only daughter running out to greet him.
The ugly story of what follows is a good time to be reminded that, in historical books like Judges, the Bible is often descriptive and not prescriptive. Simply because the Bible records something does not mean that God approves of that thing. In God’s condemnation of Baal worship, He condemns them for the abomination of child sacrifice. God is certainly not pleased in Jephthah’s actions toward his daughter.
The Old Testament Law had provisions for such cases as Jephthah’s. Leviticus 27:1-8 provides for a payment that could be made for her life. But Jephthah, the rash fool, not only blames his daughter for his foolish vow (“ “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me.” Judges 11:35), but fails to consider any other options despite having two months to do just that.
Our foolish words and actions may not lead to as severe a result to those around us as they did to Jephthah’s daughter, but they will cut, wound and destroy. Proverbs 10:14 says that “the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.”
There is no room for foolish words or deeds among the people of God. If God is truth, then His people should be about truth as well. (Eph 5:17 ESV) 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Are you given to foolish talk? Have you laid aside foolish action?