Judges 11:37 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 11:37, NIV: But grant me this one request,' she said. 'Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.'

Judges 11:37, ESV: So she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.”

Judges 11:37, KJV: And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

Judges 11:37, NASB: And she said to her father, 'Let this thing be done for me; allow me two months, so that I may go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my friends.'

Judges 11:37, NLT: But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.'

Judges 11:37, CSB: She also said to her father, "Let me do this one thing: Let me wander two months through the mountains with my friends and mourn my virginity."

What does Judges 11:37 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This and the following verses combine with Jephthah's original vow to inspire much debate (Judges 11:30–31). Interpreters speculate about the outcome for Jephthah's daughter. His vow to offer something "as a burnt sacrifice" after defeating the Ammonites was foolish for at least two reasons. First, the Lord had already sent His Spirit on Jephthah (Judges 11:29), giving him every reason to believe the Lord was already with him and poised to overthrow the Ammonites. Second, to promise something without a clear grasp of possible consequences is unwise (Proverbs 6:1–3).

Another plausible reason to condemn Jephthah's vow involves its possible meanings. What Jephthah promised could have meant to devote someone to God's service—or it might have implied literal human sacrifice. That was part of pagan religion in that era, but also clearly condemned by God (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:9–10). It's possible someone steeped in that culture would think of such things, even during a time of repentance (Judges 10:10–16).

And yet, the daughter's request here does not sound like one from someone prepared to sacrifice their life on an altar. Instead, she asks for two months to travel and mourn her virginity. In that culture, dying without children meant the end of one's legacy; it was considered especially tragic. The phrasing here makes it seem Jephthah's daughter is most sad about is losing the opportunity to marry and have children (Judges 11:38). Commentators speculate that this is because Jephthah's vow was to devote someone to God's service—somewhat like a modern nun or monk.

Alternatively, Jephthah may have taken advantage of a special provision in the law that allowed for people who had made vows to assign a monetary amount, then to pay off the vow with silver (Leviticus 27:1–8). The suggestion is that Jephthah paid this amount and then committed his daughter to the service of the Lord in celibacy for the length of her life. Not all commentators agree that this is likely.

Ultimately, all we know for sure is that Jephthah's daughter submitted to her fate, which meant never marrying or having children.