Jesse Johnson thinks we should stop rescuing Jephthah from his really bad vow. He links to a couple of articles that argue Jehpthah really didn’t offer his daughter as a sacrifice to God, but Jesse defends the position that Jephthah really did do this.
Indeed Judges is a troubling book and this episode is disturbing. But what should we do with it? He writes,
This story bothers people for obvious reasons. Child-sacrifice is bad, and when it is done by those who have God’s Spirit, well…that makes it even worse.
This is perhaps why some commentators want to rescue Jephthah from his vow. They attempt to say that “offer it up as a burnt offering” means something along the line of just letting her serve Yahweh for the rest of her life. I’m actually not entirely sure what they think that means in the days of the Judges—maybe something like what Hannah would do with Samuel a few generations later: just drop the sacrifice off at the temple and let the person live out the rest of his/her days serving Yahweh vocationally.
Read Don’t rescue Jephthah and find out.