What does Judges 11:37 mean?
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.”
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.'
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.'
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."
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.'
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.
NKJV: Then she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me: let me alone for two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.”
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Judges 11:29–40 begins with God's Spirit coming on Jephthah and empowering him to raise an army from Gilead and Manasseh. Before attacking the Ammonites, Jephthah makes a vow regarding victory in the war. When Israel wins the victory, Jephthah's vow surprisingly binds him to offer his daughter, his only child, as an offering to the Lord. She agrees that her father must follow through on this sacred promise, but she first spends two months grieving that she will not marry or have children. Jephthah fulfills his vow, though scholars have long debated how, exactly, he did so.
Chapter Summary:
A man named Jephthah is driven away from his home in Gilead by jealous brothers. He settles in Tob, where he becomes warrior chief of a criminal band. Gilead's elders later recruit Jephthah to lead the fight against their Ammonite oppressors. After a failed negotiation attempt, Jephthah vows to make a burnt offering to the Lord of whatever comes to meet him if God gives him victory over the Ammonites. Israel thoroughly defeats Ammon, and Jephthah's daughter, his only child, greets him. Jephthah carries out his vow after his daughter grieves never marrying or having children.
Chapter Context:
Judges 11 answers the question raised at the end of the previous chapter: who could lead Gilead's fight against the Ammonites? The elders recruit Jephthah, a warrior driven away by his family in Gilead. Jephthah agrees to return and is appointed leader of Gilead. Jephthah raises an army and makes a foolish vow to the Lord in exchange for victory. Israel defeats Ammon, but Jephthah's vow costs him his only child, his daughter. His victory also creates civil strife in Israel, leading to a minor civil war.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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