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 Vol. 3, No. 5 

Page 20

May, 2001

Since You Askedtypewriter

Jephthah's Daughter

By Louis Rushmore

I read Judges 11:29-33 and wonder what is going on. Jephthah makes a vow to God to "offer" whatever comes through the door as a burnt offering. V. 31. It couldn't be an animal because they usually didn't enter people's houses through the doors so I don't think he meant to sacrifice a person coming through the door. I don't think he meant a human sacrifice because his daughter had no relations with man after he "did to her according to the vow." V. 39. What are your thoughts? David Peery.

Jephthah's vow has been a source of controversy throughout modern history. Essentially, two contrasting views argue for either Jephthah literally offering his daughter as a blood-spilt burnt altar offering, or that she was dedicated to lifelong, celibate service to God.

God raised Jephthah to be a Judge in Israel to liberate the Israelites from the oppression of the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). Further, God is directly involved as the one with whom the vow was made and at least indirectly through providence in the turn of events that led to the application of the vow to Jephthah's daughter. Therefore, whatever conclusion to which one arrives also affects one's view of God, too.

According to Keil and Delitzsch, the verbal construction of the vow anticipated that to whomever the vow would eventually be applied was a human and not an animal. Also, Jephthah apparently determined to allow chance or providence to select the immediate application upon his return home.

Jephthah's daughter embraced the consequences of her father's vow, only requesting a stay of its fulfillment for two months for the purpose of mourning her virginity. Upon her return home after the two months, the vow was fulfilled. The key to understanding how the vow was fulfilled is the statement: "…she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man…" (Judges 11:39). This Scripture reveals: (1) the vow Jephthah vowed was carried out, and (2) the fulfillment involved his daughter's perpetual virginity. "To mourn one's virginity does not mean to mourn because one has to die a virgin, but because one has to live and remain a virgin." ("Judges 11:39-40," Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.) Hence, it appears that the fulfillment of the vow was the daughter's spiritual sacrifice of constant dedication to the service of God, rather than a bloody sacrifice of burnt offering. Christians know the concept of the spiritual sacrifice of themselves, too (Romans 12:1-2).

Further, note that the Law provided redemption of the firstborn children from sacrifice and redemption of persons affected by vows (Num 18:15-16; Lev 27:1 ff). It was not, therefore, unusual to use phraseology as Jephthah did like "I will offer it up for a burnt offering" referring to people, when the actual execution of the vow anticipated some sort of redemption. It was as though or in the place of a burnt offering, when applied to persons, that redemption fulfilled the need or vow for a sacrifice.

Keil and Delitzsch contend that the proper rendition of "lament" in verse 40 of the KJV is instead, "praise." In this vein, the American Standard Version translates verse 40, "…the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year." Adam Clarke supposes the word should be translated "comfort" and that maidens comforted Jephthah's daughter annually. Dedication to God that removed persons from their families for special service to God occurred under Judaism (e.g., little boy Samuel, 1 Samuel 1:11; Anna, Luke 2:36-37).

The dreadful thought that Jephthah may have actually slain or had an Israelite priest slay his daughter to offer her as a bloody sacrifice is at once repulsive, rather characteristic of the Godless neighboring nations of Israel and strictly prohibited by God to the Israelites. "Yet not only were human sacrifices prohibited in the law under pain of death as an abomination in the sight of Jehovah (Lev 18:21; 20:2-5; Deut 12:31; 18:10), but they were never heard of among the Israelites in the early times, and were only transplanted to Jerusalem by the godless kings Ahaz and Manasseh." (Ibid.)

Albert Barnes, Wycliffe and Matthew Henry in their commentaries, as well as the New Unger's Bible Dictionary, International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, New Bible Dictionary, Josephus, and A History of Israel suppose that Jephthah erred in making the vow and actually slaying his daughter. The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary cites Jephthah for a rash vow but supposes that instead of human sacrifice, his daughter remained a perpetual virgin in special service to God.

I must concur with the summary regarding Jephthah's vow made by Easton's Bible Dictionary,  "We are constrained, however, by a consideration of Jephthah's known piety as a true worshipper of Jehovah, his evident acquaintance with the law of Moses, to which such sacrifices were abhorrent (Lev. 18:21; 20:25; Deut. 12:31), and the place he holds in the roll of the heroes of the faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:32), to conclude that she was only doomed to a life of perpetual celibacy." [Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton's Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996]

typewriter typewriter Beneficiaries of
 the New Covenant

By Louis Rushmore

In Hebrews 10, is the "them" in verse 16 the same "them" of verse 14, and the same "their" of verse 17? Thank you, In Christ, Rea Buttermore

The verses involved in the inquiry are:

"or by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (Hebrews 10:14-17).

The short answer to your inquiry is yes! The Book of Hebrews is a running contrast between Judaism and Christianity. Its purpose was to re-establish Jewish Christians whose faith in the Gospel system was wavering. Many Jewish Christians in the first century were tempted to dispense with Christianity and return to a strict allegiance to Judaism. The mention of a "covenant" in this passage contrasts the New Covenant, which was the subject of Old Testament prophecy, but had been implemented in the first century with the Old Covenant or Testament. The "them" of verse 14 who were "sanctified" or saved persons when Hebrews was written were the objects of salvation contained in the Old Testament prophecy cited (Jeremiah 31:33-34) and designated in the prophecy as "them" in verse 16 and as "their" in verse 17.

The word "perfected" in verse 14 means "completed" or "fulfilled"; see Strong's Greek dictionary or similar reference works. Jesus Christ completed or fulfilled his part regarding the redemption of humanity, inclusive of bringing about the New Covenant of which Jeremiah spoke and which is quoted here. There are some fundamental differences between Judaism and Christianity, including being physically born into a covenant relationship with God under Judaism, after which being taught the precepts of Judaism when old enough, versus under Christianity not experiencing a covenant relationship prior to instruction in Christianity. A chief difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Judaism did not offer actual forgiveness of sins (only prospectively based on the then future sacrifice of the Christ), whereas Christianity did provide for the forgiveness of sins. Yet, that redemption made possible by Jesus Christ is conditional, contingent on obedience (Hebrews 5:9) before the grace (Ephesians 2:8) and mercy (Titus 3:5) of God are activated on our behalf. "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).

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Fellowship With Whom?

By Louis Rushmore

In the context of 1 John chapter one in verse 7 where it says "we have fellowship one with another," is it talking about God or Godhead, other Christians or both; who is the fellowship with? In Christ and Christian Love, Randy H. Sturgess

The verse under consideration reads: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). The answer to your question lies in verse 3, which reads: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."

In short, biblical fellowship is a triangular relationship between the Godhead, a faithful Christian and every other faithful Christian (who also has fellowship with the Godhead). Every faithful child of God enjoys fellowship with the Godhead and with every other faithful child of God. Biblical fellowship extends across every geographical and topographical feature of our planet (where Christians may be), across the barriers of time past, present and future among faithful Christians, and across the threshold on either side of which is this physical world and timeless eternity in the spiritual realm.

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Are Tournaments Gambling?

By Louis Rushmore

…considering that cake walks, pitching pennies, betting on sports, etc. are gambling, would a tournament which you pay to enter in order to win the "pot" be gambling? (name withheld upon request)

"Gamble" is defined as 'playing a game of chance for money or property' or 'to bet on an uncertain outcome.' A tournament to which one pays an entry fee is not usually considered the same as playing a game of chance or betting, even if prizes awarded to winners are monetary. First, tournaments typically involve activity in which skill instead of chance is the primary determining factor of the outcome (e.g., a golf tournament). Second, even a monetary prize in a sporting event, for instance, is comprised of sums exceeding the entry fees, which may be derived largely from spectator admission fees and advertising (e.g., auto racing). Third, entry fees to a tournament fund more than prizes, such as expenses associated with hosting the event (e.g., county fair). I would be slow to condemn someone's participation in a tournament, though entry fees may be associated with it. However, if I personally had a troubled conscience regarding tournaments, I would refrain from such myself to avoid violating my conscience (Romans 14:23).

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Association With a
 Christian Church Camp

By Louis Rushmore

I have a matter at hand that is bothering me very much. I will explain. The congregation that I am a member of participates in an annual family retreat at a camp that I went to last night as a representative. I find that it is controlled by the Christian church. There was dinner and a business meeting after and discussion. One of the things discussed was the matter of Christian rock music to be supplied by a certain musician at a future event. I find that this is contrary to my beliefs and I intend to voice my rejection of being a representative at our next business meeting. Am I being too picky in this matter? Any advice given will be greatly appreciated. Thank You, I remain Alfred Vidal, Jr., Chula Vista, Calif

There are especially two reasons for which it would be preferable for you to not continue in association with the camp of which you wrote. First, to continue in the capacity mentioned above is an obvious violation of your conscience, which itself is described as sinful in Romans 14:23. To avoid sin in this regard in the future, you have little choice but to extricate yourself from this situation. Second, a fundamental difference between the churches of Christ and the Christian Church pertains to the type of religious music respectively employed by them. The churches of Christ conform to the prescription in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 about singing for worshipful music. However, the Christian Church presumes to add an additional, unauthorized type of music -- mechanical instruments -- in Christian worship. The rhetorical question of Amos 3:3, with its implied answer, furnishes you with the appropriate response to this scenario for you -- and the Lord's church of which you are a member. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

Copyright © 2001 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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