Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Judge not and you will not be judged

There is no doubt that peoples childhoods have a significant effect on their behaviour as adults. This does not excuse wrong doing but at least should lead to compassion and a hesitancy to judgement. Consider a man with the following background. His mother was a prostitute. His father's other children expelled him from the family home. This led to him hanging out with "a band of worthless fellows". But because of his physical prowess, his relatives later recruited him as their military leader, in a cynical and desperate bid to ensure their own survival. I doubt he benefited from much moral guidance from his father or the warmth of family life!
What should we expect of such a person? Do we have right to pass judgement on such a man for making foolish promises which he then keeps to save face? Who is the man? This is the background of Jephthath, a Judge of Israel, who sacrificed his own daughter to fulfill a foolish vow he made to the LORD.

A previous post The shock value of Judges presents a complementary perspective.

Aside: It is interesting that Handel wrote an oratorio Jephtha but did not follow the Biblical text in having Jephthah's daughter sacrificed.

"Jephtha's Rash Vow", by James Gundee and M. Jones, London. Published January 20, 1807. Illustrates the description of Jephtha in Antiquities of the Jews, Book V, by Flavius Josephus

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