Judges 11:34, Human Sacrifice to Yahweh
When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
//One of the more troubling, and thus passionate, debates among scholars is whether or not Israelites at one time sacrificed children to their god, Yahweh. The practice is roundly condemned by the prophet Jeremiah, and the book of Numbers indicates that a person guilty of human sacrifice is to be stoned. Yet verses in the Bible seem to indicate it was an acceptable practice at one time. I addressed this in a two-part series some time ago:
However, outside the story of Abraham and Isaac, we find no examples of it happening, except this one in today’s verse. Jephthah, victorious in battle, vows to give God the first thing that meets him as he returns home. It turns out to be his only daughter.
This story is significant because Jephthah knows God expects him to complete his vow. He knows that his daughter is an acceptable sacrifice to God, though he wishes dearly it were not the case (see v. 35). Even his daughter recognizes that God expects her to be sacrificed (v. 36).
So in verse 39, Jephthah carries out his vow, and offers his daughter as a burnt offering to God.