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  Bible Question: My question has to do with Judges 11:30-39. Why would God allow Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter as a burnt sacrifice when child sacrifice was strictly forbidden by God? It was a stupid vow for Jephthah to make, and I guess I was hoping that because God must have known this would happen that He would just tell Jephthah of his stupidity instead of actually allowing it to happen. I have heard two responses to this. I have read that some think Jephthah ended up giving his daughter as a living sacrifice (but the Bible does not say this). I have also read that God allowed it to teach us not to make foolish deals with God because we are not to bargain with God. If God wants to bless us, He does not want there to be strings attached. It is to be a blessing not a bargain. I am very interested to hear your answer. I hope it will bring closure for me with this bothersome issue. Thank you!
 
Bible Answer: There are at least two major views about the promise Jephthah made and what happened to his daughter later. Judges 11:29-40 tells us that Jephthah made a deal with God. People do this all the time. "Lord if you will do this for me, then I will do this for you." So Jephthah asked God to give him victory over the Ammonites and he would give something to God. So the Lord gave him victory, and as he was coming home his daughter came out of the door. The Bible says something happened to her, but some people are confused. The confusion can be resolved by a careful translation and by not assuming things that are not said in the passage, as is commonly done.
     Views. The first major view says that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter because of a commitment or a vow he made to God. The second major view is that Jephthah only promised an animal sacrifice. Here is his promise.
 
  And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If Thou wilt indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” (NASB) Judges 11:30-31
 
     Translation. Unfortunately, our understanding of what he really promised hinges mainly on one letter in the Hebrew alphabet, , which can mean "or" as well as "and." If we translate the letter as "or" the passage reads as follows:
 
  And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If Thou wilt indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, or I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” (NASB) Judges 11:30-31
 
The correct meaning is "or." This should be accepted as the proper translation for several reasons. First, if we assume "and" is correct then Jephthah knowingly committed himself to making a human sacrifice, since he said, "whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me . . . ." We must also realize that the Mosaic Law prohibited human sacrifice (Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31). Since Jephthah was filled with the Holy Spirit according to Judges 11:29, the Spirit would not have prompted him to make a vow to sin. Second, Judges never says that his daughter was killed or sacrificed. In fact, we are told that she goes into the mountains to weep for her virginity for two months.
     
 
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