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  The Great Bible Story #49
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Jephthah makes a foolish vow

Jacob Ninan
Another time Israel backslid and went after other gods, God allowed the Phlistines and the Ammonites to oppress them. Then they cried out to God and told Him they were sorry they had left Him and gone after Baals. He told them that since they had left Him in spite of all that He had done for them, they might as well go and ask their gods to save them. But they repented and put away all the idols from their midst. But then the Ammonites came to attack them. There was an Israelite man called Jephthah in Gilead who was a valiant warrior but who had been driven out of his house by his step brothers because he had been born of a harlot. But now all the people came to call him to lead them in their fight against the Ammonites. He agreed on condition that if they won they would make him their leader. But first he sent a message to the Ammonites asking them why they were attacking them. The Ammonites replied that it was because Israel was occupying their land. Jephthah tried to show them that he had not given them any trouble, and that it was God who had given them this land. He asked them why they had not tried to recover the land all these three hundred years Israel had been staying here. But the Ammonites ignored the message and came up to fight. God then empowered Jephthah with the Holy Spirit and he called the people of Israel to come with him to fight the enemies.

As he was going into battle he made a foolish vow to God, without thinking much about it, that if the Lord gave him victory, he would offer whatever came out of his door when he went back home as a sacrifice to God. God did give him a mighty victory and he captured more than twenty cities in this process. But when he returned home, it was his only daughter who came out from the house to meet him. He was so desperate. But his daughter told him that since he had made a vow to God, he had to keep it. The only request she made was that he would give her two months' time to go and spend on the mountain with her friends. She did that, and when she came back Jephthah did what He had vowed to God.

Jephthah made this vow because he did not know God well enough and he was more acquainted with the practices of the Canaanites around him. He did not know that human sacrifice was one of the things that made God angry with the Canaanites. Even when he saw his daughter coming to him and realised his folly he could have repented.


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