As a ‘text of terror’, Judges 11 is the topic of extensive feminist interpretation. Filtering the text through a typical feminist hermeneutic of suspicion or remembrance, the text is deconstructed and the story’s victim, Jephthah’s daughter, is rendered a submissive pawn of a patriarchal society. Using a feminist, Pentecostal hermeneutic, the biblical reader appreciates this disturbing Scripture, not as an object to deconstruct, but as Spirit-Word that deconstructs its reader and its reader’s world. As one sees Jephthah’s daughter with new eyes, one is able to see her as a courageous daughter who takes a radical stand against her father’s world that is determined by martial valor. As Judges 11 is read with the Spirit, the reader herself experiences transformation as she enters into the Spirit’s grief, brooding, and transformation of this nameless daughter and of all those who hear, with her, the unheard voice of God.
TribleTexts of Terror p. 101. For a discussion on why the structure of the vow indicates that Jephthah expected a human to first immerge from his home rather than an animal see Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downers Grove il: InterVarsity Press 1988) pp. 101–105.
TribleTexts of Terror p. 101. Trible expounds upon the daughter’s ambiguous ancestry: ‘Her father is of illegitimate birth; her mother is never mentioned; her grandmother was a harlot; and her grandfather cannot be identified’ (Texts of Terror p. 101).
Fuchs‘Marginalization Ambiguity Silencing’ p. 42. Mark E. Biddle describes this idiom ‘to open the mouth’ as unique in the Hebrew Bible that appropriately applies to Jephthah’s situation. Biddle states that the idiom ‘refers elsewhere either to ravenous consumption (Gen. 4.11; Num. 16.30; Deut. 11.6; Ps. 22.14; Ezek. 2.8) or to false or foolhardy speech (Job 35.16; Ps. 66.14; Isa. 10.14; Lam. 2.16 3.46) the usage evident here. The connection might be expressed best in English by idioms such as “I opened my big mouth” or “I spoke too soon”’. Mark E. Biddle Reading Judges: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Macon ga: Smyth & Helwys Publishing 2012) p. 133.
Michael J. Smith‘The Failure of the Family in Judges, Part 1: Jephthah’Bibliotheca Sacra162.1 (2005) pp. 279–298 (295). Barry G. Webb specifies that Yahweh’s mercy towards the repentant Israelites is not due to their repentance for the Israelites live according to a cycle of repentance and soon following apostasy. Yahweh knows that the repentance comes not from a repentant heart but from Israel’s ‘utilitarian nature.’ Barry G. Webb The Book of the Judges: An Integrated Reading (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press 1987) p. 45. Yet Yahweh’s affections for Israel move Yahweh to act mercifully even despite knowledge of the Israelites’ non-repentant hearts. Webb correlates Israel’s repentance and appeal to Yahweh to the Gileadites’ repentance and appeal to Jephthah and ultimately Jephthah’s appeal to Yahweh via the vow. Webb says (The Book of the Judges pp. 53–54) ‘Their [the elders] ‘repentance’ nevertheless bears a remarkable resemblance to the repentance of Israel in Episode I [Judges 10]. It arises out of the same situation (inability to cope with the Ammonites without help from the one they have rejected) it has the same object (to obtain the help of the one they have rejected) it meets with a similar initial rebuttal and it is pressed with some kind of importunity. The Israelites end up by acknowledging Yahweh as their unrivalled God (10.16a-b); the Gileadites end up by making Jephthah their head and commander (11.11b). Where the two episodes differ sharply is in the final response given by Yahweh and Jephthah respectively. Yahweh can no longer tolerate the misery of Israel; Jephthah manifests only self-interest’. Also see Carolyn Pressler Joshua Judges and Ruth (Louisville ky: Westminster John Knox Press 2002) p. 198. As the judge Jephthah appeals to the Judge Yahweh Jephthah consequently creates a third judge the vow. After the vow is made Yahweh remains silent and Jephthah finds his judgment in the unheard voice of God in his own voice and in the voice and actions of a daughter who dramatically breaks an unfaithful utilitarian cycle.
Elisheva Baumgarten‘“Remember that Glorious Girl”: Jephthah’s Daughter in Medieval Jewish Culture’The Jewish Quarterly Review97.2 (2007) pp. 180–209 (205–206). Tradition goes that when Jephthah sacrificed his daughter the waters in Israel turned to blood. During these four days every year water is influenced negatively and must not be consumed. In this way the world recognizes the danger inherent to child sacrifice. Baumgarten ‘Remember that Glorious Girl’ pp. 194–195. Here one might also recognize Jephthah’s daughter as an Old Testament type of Christ. Like Christ her blood is a sacrifice to end all sacrifices—a violent death that speaks against death. For ancient commentators who hold a similar view see John L. Thompson Writing the Wrongs: Women of the Old Testament among Biblical Commentators from Philo through the Reformation (New York New York: Oxford Press 2001) pp. 100–178.