Judges 11:39 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 11:39, NIV: After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite tradition

Judges 11:39, ESV: And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel

Judges 11:39, KJV: And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

Judges 11:39, NASB: And at the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her what he had vowed; and she had no relations with a man. And it became a custom in Israel,

Judges 11:39, NLT: When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel

Judges 11:39, CSB: At the end of two months, she returned to her father, and he kept the vow he had made about her. And she had never been intimate with a man. Now it became a custom in Israel

What does Judges 11:39 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jephthah fulfilled his vow (Judges 11:30–31). He allowed her two months of mourning with her friends, weeping that she would never marry or have children (Judges 11:37–38). Then, he makes good on his promise. The text is clear that Jephthah fulfilled his promise to God, exactly as he had intended. It's also clear that the result involved Jephthah's daughter never having children. Other than that, there is great controversy about precisely what happens here.

The original phrasing of Jephthah's vow referred to giving something to God "as a burnt offering." Some scholars insist Jephthah killed his daughter and burned her body as a sacrifice to the Lord. They interpret his promise as a reflection of the pagan culture, or a misunderstanding of vows.

Other commentators note it is at least possible that Jephthah fulfilled his vow by following Leviticus 27:1–8. That would mean paying some money for her life to the tabernacle, then committing her to lifelong celibate service to the Lord. God clearly forbade human sacrifice in Israel (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:9–10); Jephthah may have come to understand that more clearly, even if it was his first intention. Alternatively, he may have never planned on human sacrifice, and a form of permanent dedication was always his meaning.

Beyond her lack of a family—which means the end of Jephthah's line (Judges 11:34)—we are only told that this choice brought great grief to her and, later, to other women on her behalf (Judges 11:40).