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ulation of singular vows, or voluntary devotements, is found, Lev. 27. Such vows respected persons, clean and unclean beasts, houses, and lands. In respect to persons, the rule was, “When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation,” v. 1. Then follows a rate of estimation according to the age and sex. In respect to clean beasts, " whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the Lord shall be holy,” v. 9. There was no estimation put upon such devotements, and no condition of redemption. If it was an unclean beast, it was to be presented before the priest, and by him valued. It might then be redeemed by adding one-fifth to the value of it. Ofthe rules and conditions of other devoted things, it is not necessary to speak, as they could not be embraced in the condition of Jephthah's vow, “Whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me." This could respect only the persons of his household, or the beasts of his possession. Now, by adopting the marginal reading, the language of the vow was exactly adapted to the rule respecting singular vows. A person, or an unclean beast, was to be the Lord's, i. e., for his service; but clean beasts, those whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, were to be holy, i. e., should be offered in sacrifice. His vow was, it “shall surely be the Lord's, or I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” This embraced all the possible alternatives. If it should be one of his household, or a beast, which it was pot proper to offer in sacrifice, it was to be separated to the Lord's service: but if it should be a beast, whereof men bring an offering to the Lord, then he would offer it up for a burnt offering.
2. The context favors the marginal rendering. There is nothing in the context, aside from the language of the vow, which would lead us to suppose that Jephthah put his daughter to death. All that is said in relation to his vow is, that he “ did with her according to the vow which he had vowed,” which, as we have seen, necessarily signifies no more than that he, in a peculiar manner, according to the conditions of the singular vow, gave her to the Lord, probably including, devoting her to a life of celibacy. This is all that is required to explain the context; and some parts of it are better explained by this interpretation, than by supposing that he offered her up for a burnt offering. This will fully explain Jephthah's grief at meeting ber. Í'he context specifies that she was his only child. His
devoting her then in this manner would be the blotting out of his name and family. This, in Israel, was regarded as a peculiar calamity. This interpretation better explains her conduct with her companions, in spending a season previous to the fulfilment of the vow in “ bewailing her virginity.” It certainly strikes the mind rather singularly, that this should be the subject of their lamentation in prospect of the speedy violent death of one of their number. But, adopting the proposed interpretation, it is just the course we might expect them to pursue. She was about to be separated from them to spend her life of celibacy, either in retirement, or somewhere in such employment as would remove her from their society, and cut her off from the most animating hope of a daughter of Israel, that of becoming a mother, and possibly the mother of the promised Messiah. “She went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains” two months. This interpretation agrees better with the language of the historian, in recording the fulfilment of the vow, than the received translation, which must signify that he offered her up for a burnt-offering. The record is, “ And it came to pass, at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to the vow which he had vowed ; and she knew no man,” v. 39. This Jast clause seems rather uncalled for, on the supposition that she was at that time offered up for a burnt-offering; but, taking the marginal reading, it is perfectly natural. This closing remark shows in what manner the vow was fulfilled. He did to her according to his vow; and, instead of giving her to a husband, and thus perpetuating his family by her, he gave her to the Lord, and she remained unmarried for the sake of his service, that she might care for the things of the Lord, how she might please him. There is a marginal reading of the 40th verse, also, which becomes significant and appropriate, by adopting the marginal reading of the 31st, and the interpretation proposed. It is said, “ The daughters of Israel went yearly to lament (margin "to talk with”) the daughter of Jephthah, the Gileadite, four days in a year.” On the adoption of the proposed interpretation, the marginal reading of the last verse becomes perfectly consistent and natural. It is the very course that would be expected from her companions, that they should, at suitable times, visit and commune with her. This course is rendered the more probable, as it might be expected that, by her retirement and devotions, she would become distinguished for her wisdom and piety, and thus would become a person of interest, not only to her immediate companions, but to the “ daughters of Israel” generally.
Here the question may arise, with regard to the fact of such devotements. Without entering fully into that subject, it cannot be denied, that some passages favor the idea. . 1 Cor. 7: 32—34, clearly implies such a practice, and more than intimates, that it was regarded with complacency, as favorable to piety in those who could adopt it. Our Saviour's remark, that there are some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God's sake, implies the same thing. It is evident, also, that there were many female as well as male servants employed in the service of the Jewish religion; and some things favor the idea that they lived in celibacy. Repeated mention is made of singing men and singing women. Ezra mentions a large company that claimed to be children of the priests, who had lost their register, and who were consequently excluded from the priesthood until their origin could be settled. He says, “ The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore. Besides their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred and thirty and seven: and there were among them, two hundred singing men and singing women,” Ezra 2: 64, 65.In Numbers, chap. 31st, we have an account of a war of the Israelites with the Midianites. They slew all the men and saved the women and children. The Lord directed further, to slay all the women that had been defiled by carnal intercourse with men, and all the male children, and to spare the remaining females. Of these there were thirty-two thousand. These were equally divided with the rest of the spoil, between them that went out to war and all the rest of the congregation. Then, from the warrior's half, one in five hundred was to be a heaveoffering for the Lord of the people's half, one in fifty was to be given to the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the Lord. The Lord's portion therefore of these, was thirtytwo persons; and these, among the rest of the Lord's portion of the spoils, Moses gave unto Eleazar the priest: from the other half, there were three hundred and twenty, which he gave with the rest of their portion of the spoils to the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the Lord. It is very plain, that widows sometimes remained in their state of widowhood from a regard to the service of the Lord. Anna, the prophetess, is an
example; and the company of widows in the primitive Christian churches shows also the same custom. All these considerations go to make it appear that devotements to the service of the Lord were not uncommon in Israel.
3. The character of Jephthah favors the marginal reading and the proposed interpretation. Aside from this one act which is the subject of inquiry, there is nothing which leaves any reason for suspicion in regard to his piety, or even any thing which appears like rashness. He was, indeed, an illegitimate child; and by the pride and rashness of his brethren he was thrust out from his father's house; but nothing is said of him in this transaction prejudicial to his character. It is said, indeed, that certain vain fellows joined themselves to him in his banishment; but that was true of David also in like circumstances. It show's only that he was a man looked up to in whatever company he was found. This appears still farther in the fact, that when his brethren were in trouble, they were glad to recall him, and that also with the promise to submit themselves to him as their leader. The whole narrative, except this misconstruction of his vow, goes to establish his claim to be ranked as the apostle has ranked him among the crowd of faithful witnesses. Take this view of his vow, and his whole character appears consistent. He made a vow perfectly in accordance with the nature of the dispensation under which he lived, and for the regulation of which, rules had been prescribed which would cover every possible alternative; and he fulfilled the vow which he had made at a great personal and domestic sacrifice. Take the other view of this passage, and you have one who is ranked by inspiration among the faithful witnesses, offering a human victim in sacrifice to Jehovah, an abomination of which one of Jephthah's rank and intelligence could not possibly be ignorant. Another alternative, no less absurd, is, that his vow, if interpreted according to the received reading, might have bound him to offer some unclean thing in sacrifice to God, which he must have known was expressly forbidden. The marginal reading removes this difficulty.
4. The providence of God in the case favors the marginal reading. Is there any other instance in which God was so solemnly appealed to in behalf of his own cause, for a result, where, by the result, he involved a servant of his in so decided an act of abomination ? Herod's oath to his niece is not an analogous case. Herod was not pledging himself to God's service. He was the slave to his lusts, and God ensnared him in his own rash vow; he no doubt also held him responsible for the consequence. Neither was God's command to Abraham to offer up Isaac a parallel case. He tried Abraham's faith, but saved him from any result which would leave the suspicion of cruelty on his character. The case before us, on adopting the received translation, is a perfect anomaly in the providence of God.
From all these considerations, we regard the marginal as the true reading; and suppose that Jephthah, instead of offering his daughter in sacrifice as a burnt-offering, devoted her in some special way to the service of the Lord and to a life of celibacy. He “did with her according to his vow which he had vowed : and she knew no man."
CHRIST THE PREACHER'S MODEL.
By Rev. Asa D. Sunith, Pastor of the Brainerd Presbyterian Church, New.Yok.
It is not the design of the present article to dwell on our Lord's more private excellences. We touch not, except in the way of brief and incidental reference, on the blamelessness of his general life, bis meekness and lowliness of mind, bis ever active benevolence, his zeal for God's glory, his devotional habits, his self-sacrificing spirit. We consider him not even, so to speak, as a theologian-but simply as a Preacher. It is doubtless proper thus to regard him. There are certain limitations, however, with which his example should be copied, and, to preclude all misapprehension, it may be well just to glance at these in the outset.
The circumstances of his ministry were in some respects peculiar. This remark might be illustrated by many a reference to the character of the age in which he lived, and to the genius and habits of the people among whom he labored. And it has an important relation to his preaching considered as a model. Forms, both of speech and action, change somewhat with circumstances. They are seldom, therefore, to be exactly copied,