Judges 8 – Judges 9
Judges 10 – Judges 12
I believe there is an old adage:
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”
I find these words to be true as we work through these five chapters of Judges. With the change of one Judges to the other, things temporary improve, and then quickly decline. Of course the decline from one Judge to the next, only seems to get worse.
Take for example Gideon . . .
He led 300 of his best men to battle and defeated the Midianites. God’s guidance and mighty arm was revealed to the people as Gideon led faithfully. Yet after his major victory, the people come to him for leadership, and how does he lead? By making idols of false gods to whom the people are asked to worship. Oh how power corrupts!
Then there is Jephthah . . .
He makes a vow to God which equates to: “I will sacrifice as a Burnt Offering the first thing that walks out of my house, if you deliver the Ammonites to me.” The Ammonites are taken down, Jephthah returns home, and the first thing out of his door? His daughter! Did she know? Was it a ploy? Did he actually sacrifice her? The intent is there, but our text is a bit vague on all of the details.
We know that God frowns on such sacrifices, so did it happen? I’d like to think that she was not sacrificed. It seems to go against everything God is working toward, and certainly contradicts many of the teachings God has given us so far. So here’s my interpretation: Because both she and Jephthah took this vow seriously and because her virginity is so highly regarded, I believe that she was set apart as an offering, in that, she was given as a continued servant of God. Think here Catholic Nun. I don’t believe this is too much of a stretch, because if we remember back to Leviticus, part of the offering was always designated for the Priest. Wouldn’t giving her to the Priest as a servant to God, still fulfill the vow made and removes the idea of child sacrifice? I tend to think so, and we’ll see something similar in 1 Samuel as Hannah gives up her son. So for her sake, I say she wasn’t sacrificed. However, this is Judges and power corrupts, so . . . maybe I’m wrong.
Our next reading: Judges 13 – 15.