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Judges 11:40: The Translation of the Wording of Jephthah's Vow

Concerning the Vow of Jephthah many questions are wont to be posed at this point. 1. What was the matter of this vow? 2. Whether it was obligatory? 3. Whether he fulfilled this vow? 4. Whether he sinned, either in the vowing, or in fulfilling the vow? But the remaining questions generally depend upon the first (Bonfrerius). Question: What did Jephthah vow? That vow is found in verse 31, Whoever first cometh forth from the doors of my house…him will I offer as a burnt-offering to the Lord. The Hebrew words thus stand,וְהָיָ֣ה הַיּוֹצֵ֗א אֲשֶׁ֙ר יֵצֵ֜א מִדַּלְתֵ֤י בֵיתִי֙ לִקְרָאתִ֔י—וְהָיָה֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה וְהַעֲלִיתִ֖הוּ עוֹלָֽה׃. [First, there is to be consideration of the translation, in which they vary.] And there shall be one going forth which will have gone forth (others, who will have proceeded [Syriac], whoever will have come forth [Septuagint, Arabic]) from the doors of my house to meet me (Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Jonathan, Castalio, Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Vatablus), it/he shall belong to the Lord (shall be before the Lord [Jonathan], shall be the Lord’s [Montanus, Junius and Tremellius], shall be for an offering to the Lord [Arabic]), and I shall offer him, or it, for a burnt-offering (Pagnine, similarly Jonathan, Arabic, Malvenda, Piscator, Munster, Tigurinus, Castalio). Others: or I shall offer for a burnt-offering (Pagnine, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius), that is, It shall be consecrated to the Lord; and, if it be suitable for sacrifice, a burnt-offering shall be made of it (Junius). The former is promised simply, namely, the consecration of the animal that first comes to meet him: but the latter with a tacit condition, if that animal is able legitimately to be offered as a burnt-offering. For otherwise it was to be redeemed from the priest; as if it were a dog or an ass. See Leviticus 27:11-13 (Piscator). Some maintain that Jephthah spoke only of brute animals: and that either, 1. of all, whether clean or unclean; for which they charge him with rashness (certain Rabbis in Bonfrerius): or, 2. of those only that are able to be sacrificed (other Rabbis in Serarius). Others understand that he spoke only of men: first, he wanted to vow some great thing in order to obtain such a victory: then, because men alone go out to meet one returning. Other understand, and that more truly, that he spoke as much of brute animals and of men (thus Lyra, Serarius, Procopius and Chrysostom and Thomas in Serarius). It is evident from the words, and from the event, verse 35 (Serarius).

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