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Bible Commentaries

Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Judges 11

Verses 1-40

At last deliverance came through Jephthah, whose history is full of interest. He was the son of a harlot and had been thrust out from his inheritance by the legitimate sons of his father. Evidently the iron had entered into his soul and he had gathered to himself a band of men and had become a kind of outlaw freebooter. He was evidently a man of courage and heroic daring, and it is impossible to read the story of the approach of the men of Gilead to him without recognizing that he had certain excellencies of character. He can hardly be measured even by the highest standards of his own time. For some period he had been compelled to live outside the national life. Nevertheless, it is evident that he had his own religious convictions.

Perhaps the chief interest in this story is in the matter of his vow, of which there have been various interpretations. The story seems to leave no room for doubt that he intended to offer a human sacrifice, for when he promised to give what came to the door of his house, the reference can hardly be to an animal. When his daughter appeared, whether he actually slew her or whether, as some commentators believe, he condemned her to perpetual virginity must remain open to question. If indeed he offered her as a sacrifice by death, the question of the morality of his act can be discussed only in the light of his time, and, indeed, in the light of his own personal conviction. Certainly such an act was not justified by the law of Moses. Nevertheless, the impulse was a religious impulse.

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Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Judges 11". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.