DOI: 10.1177/03090892231182167 ISSN:

A new approach to Jephthah’s vow: Antanaclasis (Judges 10–11)

Hee-Sook Bae
  • Religious studies

Jephthah and the people, and Jephthah and YHWH, are bound by the stipulation of YHWH’s intervention in the war. This indicates that Jephthah’s vow to sacrifice those who oppose him upon his return from battle should not be perceived in isolation but rather in light of the agreement made in YHWH’s presence. The phrase ‘come out to meet’ (יצא לקראת‎) describes not only the content of Jephthah’s vow (11.31) but also the appearance of his daughter (11.34). This article argues for this identical phrase as an antanaclasis. On this reading, Jephthah’s vow to sacrifice a person who comes out to meet him in his peaceful return was not made in exchange for victory in war but rather to atone for sins committed by rejecting the terms of the contract. Moreover, it was transformed by his daughter into a celebration of the Israelites’ victory, deliverance, and territorial expansion beyond its protection.

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