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. 176. 4.
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.