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Document Details :
Title: The Sacrifice of Jephthah's Daughter
Subtitle: Jewish and Christian Perspectives
Author(s): REISS, Moshe
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 36 Issue: 4 Date: 2012
Jephthah, a leader blessed by God to help defeat the Ammonites makes a vow that should he succeed he will sacrifice whoever comes out of his house. An animal or person could come out of his house, if the latter he would be making a human sacrifice, against God’s law. His only child, his unnamed daughter, comes out of the house to celebrate her father’s victory. She was unaware of her father’s vow. The daughter does not bewail her potential death but rather her virginity, as she assumes she would be required to remain a virgin, never marry or have children. The text does not state that Jephthah explicitly sacrificed his daughter but rather stresses that he fulfilled his vow and she remained a virgin throughout her life. This ambiguity allowed a fascinating debate to arise; could the word ‘olah’ – ‘burnt offering’ – have some other meaning. Both Jewish and Christian commentators for the first millennium of the current era interpreted this text literally, i.e., Jephthah put his daughter to death.