That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
All Commentaries on Judges 11:40 Go To Judges 11
George Leo Haydock
Lament. Hebrew Lethanoth. On this term the solution of this question greatly depends. (Haydock)
Kimchi translates, "to talk with "or "to comfort the daughter of Jephte "as he supposes that the custom subsisted during her life, while she was shut up either near the tabernacle, or in her father's house. (Calmet)
Montanus renders "to speak to. "Junius and the Tigurin version, "to discourse with. "
Thanan certainly is used for "he related "Judges v. 11., yethannu narrentur, or rather narrent; and the construction here seems to require this sense. (Amama)
If this be admitted, the bloody sacrifice is at an end, since the daughters of Israel could not meet to comfort the virgin every year, if she was immolated at the expiration of two months. But if we follow the translation of the Vulgate, Septuagint, and Chaldean, as the Protestants have done, the lamentation might still be viewed in the same light, as tending to condole with the lady, rather than bewail her untimely death, (Haydock) as, for the latter purpose, it would not have been necessary for them to assemble together. (Amama)
They might well enter into her sentiments, when she mourned her virginity, (ver. 38,) and strive to yield her some comfort in her secluded state, by coming in such numbers, and with the permission of the priests of God, continuing with her four days. (Haydock)
Some translate "to publish "or sound forth the praises (Calmet) of this heroic virgin, which may be true, whether she was slain, or only consecrated to the Lord. (Haydock)
St. Epiphanius (hær. 55., and 78,) informs us that "at Sichem an annual sacrifice was still offered up in the name of the virgin, and that she was revered as a goddess by the people in the vicinity. "The vow of Jephte seems to have given rise to what we read in profane authors, of that which Idomeneus, king of Crete, made in the midst of a storm at sea: "He vowed that he would sacrifice to the gods whatever met him first. It happened that his son was the person, whom, when he had immolated, or, as others say, had wished to do it, and afterwards a pestilence had ensued, his subjects drove him from his kingdom. "(Servius in Æneid iii., and xi.) (Calmet)
Aldrovandus (in Asino) relates a similar vow of Alexander the Great. Even the more sober pagans could not, it seems, approve of the unwarranted vows of parents to destroy the lives of their children. But of people consecrated to the Lord, by their parents, without first requiring their consent, we have many examples, in Samuel. (St. Bonaventure, July 14)
If we explain the vow of Jephte in the same sense, every difficulty will be removed, and infidels will not allege this example to prove that human victims are pleasing to God. (Haydock)