Jephthah first tried to negotiate with the Ammonite King. But he would not be reasonable so they went to war. Unfortunately, before they went into battle, Jephthath made a foolish vow. He promised that if God would give him victory, then he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his home when he returned. Now we usually don’t have much living inside our homes besides people, so that seems like a weird promise. However some people believe that at this time the lower level of your house was your barn and you lived upstairs. So he probably expected a sheep or goat to wander out first.
They went into battle and God gave the Israelites a great victory. Jephthah happily returned home; but, to his horror, the first thing to come out of his home was his only child, his daughter!! She came out dancing and playing an instrument to celebrate her father’s victory. Jephthah was devastated! He tore his clothes and sadly told his daughter of his vow. She was sad, but said that since God had given him victory he must honor his vow. She had one request; that she and her friends be allowed to go into the hills for 2 months to morn together. Jephthah granted her request and then after 2 months she died. In memory of her willing sacrifice, the young, unmarried women of Israel would go and morn for her for 4 days every year.
Jephthah made a promise, and no matter how much it hurt he had to keep it. God had done His part, so Jephthah needed to do his. We should learn from his example and be very careful what we promise! It might be harder than we think!
Have you ever made a promise that turned out badly? What did you do? If not, can you think of a situation that might have bad results? Always think before you make a promise!