The response of this young daughter was amazing. The text notes that she did not shed any tears. She did not rear up or hurl damnable language towards her father. Neither did she tremble or gasp in fear when he father spoke those awful words in her ears. There was the quiet reverence toward her father and to the Lord to whom the vow was directed toward. There was acceptance of the tragic fact she not an animal would be the sacrificial burnt offering that her father had promised God. The daughter utters these words: “My father, if thou hast made this promise to the Lord, do to me according to the promise.”
This brave maiden gave the ultimate sacrifice and because of her obedience, as a daughter, gave more than any burnt offering. She gave up her life. She presented her own body as a “Living Sacrifice,” wholly and acceptable in this case to the Lord, for he had accepted the “Vow” that was promised. She felt that her blood would be a good price to pay for the deliverance of Israel, over the Ammonites. Jephthah is mentioned in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame, but there is no mention of this girl’s name. Her noble sacrifice is squeezed somewhere between the pages of the Old Testament. Any Bible scholar worth their salt would be mesmerize at the wonderment of such juxtaposition to victory that ended in a vow, a horrible an addendum,/ payment, for this victorious battle.
To a Hebrew maiden a virgin, the worst thing that could happen to a woman was to die unmarried and childless. Jephthah’s daughter’s only request was a delay, a reprieve of two months so that she could go and worship and take hold of this sentence of death that would certainly befall her upon her return. Listen to what she says: “Let me alone,” The heartbroken father willingly granted his noble daughter’s request, doubtless with the secret hope that somehow she might never return, and he would be spared the terrible sight of seeing his daughter sacrificed upon the altar.
She went out to the mountains to mourn and bewail the passing of all of her hopes, dreams, and purpose for living. These were now dashed to the ground. Her dreams of being a wife and mother fallen all burned up; her body one big pile of ashes; fallen in the pan under the Brazen Altar where the animal sacrifices were slaughtered. And then carried away and dumped in an ash heap outside of the Tabernacle.
It is hard to think about dancing when there is a death sentence looming over your head. It is hard to dance when all of your thoughts and dreams have already gone into the future, a future that you have been planning from the time you could remember; dreaming; hoping; thinking and praying, about a time when you and your Beloved would dance under the Jewish Huppah or canopy the bride and groom stood under. I suppose this young maiden believed she would live to experience the traditional celebration and dance that all newly wedded Jewish virgins looked forward to.
Imagine the days and nights she spent in the mountains and valleys thinking about the day when she and her husband would consummate their love and be joined in fellowship with the Almighty. Oh, how she looked forward to thanking and praising the only God that makes everything possible, who makes little girls dreams come true! Can you envision this young girl awakening in the mountains to discover that a nightmare has been revealed? Visualize the pain on her face and in her heart knowing that she will never experience the gift and joy of bringing a child into the world, nursing it, and watching it grow up into adulthood.
The Bible says that: She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children (Judges 11:38). Whenever you are carrying a burden, it is good to have another soul to help you to carry it. This young maiden’s soul was crushed. Apparently her friends rallied to comfort her, and agreed to go on this journey with her. We sometimes say things like: “Misery loves company.” However, I don’t believe this was the case. These virgins were there to help pray her through. Romans 12:15 states: “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (NLT).
When I was going through the deaths of my daughter and husband, I had women that came along side me and wept with me, prayed with me, some just came and sat silently with me, others brought me food or took me to breakfast or lunch. It is important to care for one another’s soul. I believe that is what these young maidens were doing, caring for Jephthah’s daughter’s soul. Perhaps they found a few light hearted moments to laugh, run, and chase each other as well as lament the fate that lay ahead for this girl.
Unfortunately, time ran out and her two months had come to an end. This daughter was a woman of integrity. She kept her word. She returned from her sojourn, having poured out her sorrow like the rain from a torrential downpour. She returned to face her fate; the executioner would be her own father. She did what Abraham, John the Baptist and Paul, Peter and Jesus did while up on that mountain. She prayed and gathered the strength and courage to carry this burden and fulfill her destiny. “All great inspiration comes from the hills” David said, “I will look to the hills from whence cometh my help, my help cometh from the Lord (Psalms 121:1, 2; 123:1).
There are theologian scholars who have tried to figure out what Jephthah actually did to his daughter on her return? There are some interpreters of the Bible that actually say that he did not sacrifice her as a burnt offering. Based upon this view, it is affirmed that Jephthah kept his daughter in sacred celibacy for the rest of her life; that what she and her female companions bewailed was not the prospect being slaughter as an animal on the Brazen altar, rather the of committal and sacrifice of being a perpetual virgin: “She knew no man.” So the phrase “he did with her according to his vow” is made to signify the exclusion of his daughter as a kind of Old Testament nun, surrendered to a life of seclusion, who would live in the Tabernacle as a lifetime virgin. Thus the awful thought of his daughter being a terrible human sacrifice is tempered down in this way. However,the text emphasizes that Jephthah did in fact kill his daughter, because it was the era of the “Judges,” when the people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They had no God consciousness; they did what they wanted to do. It was a period of ignorance and barbarity when the sacrifice of human life was common.
According to Jewish history or tradition, it is said that the daughters of Israel pay homage and respect to Jephthah’s daughter with a four day festival each year. This was perhaps a local custom; however it was an act of grace not to cry over her lot, rather to rejoice, praise and celebrate her bravery.
We all must learn to dance even when your heart is breaking, when there is no answer to the craziness that has just taken place in your life. '' All dances were not meant to be merry, lively, happy dances. Some are actually filled with pathos, dirges, sorrow and pain. This was such the case. This un-named heroine, made the ultimate sacrifice. Hers was the “The Dance of Sacrifice.” According to Jewish history or tradition, it is said that the daughters of Israel pay homage and respect to Jephthah’s daughter with a four day festival each year. This was perhaps a local custom; however it was an act of grace not to cry over her lot, rather to rejoice, praise and celebrate her bravery.