Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New interpretations for the new year  

David Cohen at BrothersJudd :
[T]he most likely explanation for the story of Jephthah's daughter is that it is misunderstood. Jephthah could not have gotten either the people of Gilead or the Priests to go along with a human sacrifice. Moreover, the story seems oddly interested in the state of his daughters virginity for a story about human sacrifice. What seems to be going on here is that Jephthah vowed that whatever came out to greet him would either be consecrated to G-d or, if appropriate, be sacrificed as a burnt offering. In ancient Israel, a person could be consecrated to G-d, cloistered and would not thereafter marry. This makes sense of the daughter's response to Jephthah's news ('Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry') as well as the ending of the story, 'And she was a virgin' as opposed to 'And she was a burnt offering.'
This is something I have never heard before, and I've been troubled by Jephthah's nameless daughter for some time now. I agree that the two months in the mountains never fit the rest of the story; I thought it was some Canaanite rite of passage or fertility-wilding that was "baptised" by the priestly writers of Judges into Hebrew history.

It fits the consecration=death motif of redeeming the firstborn with a sacrificed animal, and the childlessness of an only daughter ended Jephthah's line as surely as a death would have. Still, I'm going to have to think about this a bit.

One implication is the nature of the consecration, the setting-apart, of Samson later in the same book. Was it the haircut that cost him his strength, or being with Delilah in the first place?

posted by Kelly | 11:10 PM link