Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering.

Yet, in Genesis 22:2 God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love--Isaac--and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you."

Was it a sin for a person to sacrifice his son at the time of Abraham?

Fortunately for Issac, he was saved at the last second. But what about Jephthah sacrificing his daughter in Judges 11?

Judges 11:29-31 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

Was the Spirit of the Lord on Jephthah when he made the vow?

Did God accept Jephthah's burnt offering of his daughter?

Ultimately, as pointed out by Jon L in a comment below, Isaiah 55:9: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Well, God is God.

1 Samuel 3:18 "He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes."

  • 1
    What about these instances of Lying? Jer 38:24-27, Midwives in Egypt – Ex 1:15-21, Jericho spies – Josh 2:1 (spying, by nature, is an enacted lie.), Rahab of Jericho – Josh 2;2-7, Samuel – 1 Sam 16:1-3, Hushai the Arkite – 2 Sam 15:32-37, 16:15-19, Woman at Bahurim – 2 Sam 17:17-20, Michal protecting David – 1 Sam 19:11-17, David – 1 Sam 21:1-9, 12-15, Prophet – 1 Kings 13:18 ???
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 23:46
  • Good points. I didn't realize there were so many.
    – user35953
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 1:13
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    Regarding the midwives in Egypt, 1. God didn't command them to lie. 2. Even though He rewarded them, Exodus doesn't say that He rewarded them for their lie. (For all we know, maybe God rewarded them for their good intention and hospitality.) Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 1:42
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    @Dottard: The Bible simply prohibits bringing up false testimony against someone; i.e., wrongfully accusing them of something they did not actually do.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 7:57
  • @Lucian - correct - but look at those references and you will see an interesting pattern. God commends some people for having lied, that was the lesser of two evils - either lie or someone dies - a tricky choice!
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


Does God command someone to do something against His laws?

The law contained in Deut. 18:10 is found in the Law of Moses given to the Israelites on Sinai. There is no explicit biblical statement that those same laws in entirety were given to Abraham. Therefore, the assertion that Abraham acted contrary to a law that was not explicitly promulgated until perhaps 500 years later is anachronistic.

Regarding Jephthah, God does not command Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter, so the answer to the question asked would be “No, God did not command Jephthah to act contrary to His Law.” (There are already questions on this Stack Exchange discussing the nature of Jephthah’s act.)


Certainly a difficult couple of passages.

1) Abraham was a novice believer in God — he was learning on the go. There was no Bible and the law of Moses had not yet been given. God was using the pagan sacrificial system of the land of Canaan to test Abraham’s faith. God “tested Abraham...” (Ge 22:1) and then tells him in v. 20 “now I know you fear God” — in other words, you passed the test. God allowed Abraham to go on a difficult three day journey to have Ab strengthen his faith and overpower his doubts, and so prove himself to be 100% committed to his God. The mode of the test can be a point of perplexity but it seems obvious that God never intended for Ab to follow through on the human sacrifice.

2) For me, Jephthah is the more difficult passage. Jephthah did have the law of Moses, and his speech to the king of Ammon shows he knew his Torah. Jephthah knew better, but he lived in a time where “there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Jud 17:6, 21:25). So even though he spoke boldly about YHWH and the Spirit of YHWH was upon him to give him victory over the Ammonites, God is silent when it comes the vow of making a burnt sacrifice of whoever comes out to meet him when he returns in victory. Where’s the angel of YHWH to stop this from happening? Now it’s worth noting that many Bible scholars see Jephthah dedicating his daughter to a celibate life of service to God, and I hope that is what happened. But from my study of this text which included reading several peer reviewed articles on the structure of the Hebrew language — it seems evident that Jephthah was thinking of a human sacrifice from the moment he made his vow. So as for God’s silence in the fulfillment of the vow — I meditate on Isaiah 55:9 where God says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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