Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 32: Jephthah's daughter


Day 32: Netzach in Hod, Victory in Humility

The story of Jephthah's daughter is a kind of be-careful-what-you-wish-for tragedy. Jephthah was a warrior who led the Israelite army in war against the Ammonites. During the battle, he vowed that if God would secure him the victory against the Ammonites, he would sacrifice the first thing he saw upon his return home. Jephthah clearly hadn't read The Monkey's Paw in eighth grade, like I had, or he would have been more careful about the wording of his vow, because (of course), the first thing he saw was his daughter.
"When Jephthah arrived at his home in Mizpah, there was his daughter coming out to meet him, with timbrel and dance! She was an only child; he had no other son or daughter. On seeing her, he rent his clothes and said, 'Alas, daughter! You have brought me low; you have become my troubler! For I have uttered a vow to the Lord and I cannot retract.'" (Judges 11:34-35)
His daughter replied with more understanding than I think most of us would in that situation, asking only for an extra two months to live, during which time she and her friends went into the hills and "bewailed her maidenhood" (Judges 11:38). Jephthah's daughter's tragic death is a reminder of the cost of war, even in victory.