Original Research

The political vow of Jephthah in Judges 11:30-31

Makmur Tore, Nelci N. Ndolu
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2148 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2148 | © 2021 Makmur Tore, Nelci N. Ndolu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 September 2020 | Published: 06 May 2021

About the author(s)

Makmur Tore, Department of Theology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Mamasa Theological Seminary, Mamasa, Indonesia
Nelci N. Ndolu, Department of Christian Education, Faculty of Theology, Kupang Christian College, Kupang, Indonesia


This study responds to Jephthah’s ambiguous vow that led to a heart-wrenching and outrageous tragedy. There are conflicting ideologies held by Jephthah and the Deutronomist tradition in laying the biblical theology foundations. The church is challenged to be vigilant in vowing. To achieve this goal, the text of Judges 11:30–31 is explored by using an ideological critique approach. The focus of this study is to underline the concept of Jephthah’s ideology of victory on the fighting against the enemy of Israel as a political way to prove one’s identity and get out of social discrimination at the expense of everything including his own family. Jephthah’s act was not aligned with what the Deuteronomists promoted. Attempts to incorporate any sacrificial foreign cult (including anyone) resulted in deep scars on the faith history of the Israelites. In addition, it shows that Jephthah’s leadership, which is contrary to God’s ideals, is unable to maintain its existence in international relations when it is able to maintain its religious exclusivity. This study contributes to the interpretation of biblical texts by exposing the ideological aspects of the reader to take the right stance to be aware of the tendency to cause gender violence with a vow.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This is a multidisciplinary study because it integrates biblical hermeneutics with the context of the political constellation of Christian leaders. Apart from that, it serves as a reference for reflection and dialogue that corrects, criticises or legitimises the situation in the context of ideology, history, poverty, social conflicts, political problems and gender justice for readers.


political vow; Judges 11:30–31; Jephthah; ideology of victory; deuteronomistic tradition.


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