They waited for my word. I felt terrible. I was hoping for some miracle. I sighed deeply. “How low have I swung from the heights of joy to these depths…?” I wondered as the tears began to roll uncontrollably.
I remembered that day, that momentous day when we came back from the battle. I was an outcast from my people for a long time. My step brothers sent me away from home. “You are the son of a harlot. Be far away from us.” They said. I had to leave my home town and flee far away. But I led a motley crowd and proved that I was leader. When the Ammonites threatened them, my country men came running to me. “Come lead us to victory” They pleaded.
I was not happy with them. How can I forget the insult I felt when they sent me away? I told them how I felt. The elders promised to make me their head. So I agreed help them.
The Spirit of the Lord helped me. I gave a fitting answer to the enemies. The Lord gave the Ammonites to my hand. We routed them so much that they could not recover.
I was feeling so happy and on top of the world. I had felt the Spirit of the Lord empowering me as I fought. We won. Won decisively!
Before we went into the battle, I made a costly mistake. Of course I never realized it. But I made a vow with the Lord. I said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me… it shall be the Lord’s, I’ll offer it up as a burnt offering.” I wonder what evil spirit enticed me to be so rash.
After that heady victory we were all on our victory march back home. I was eagerly looking forward to come home to my beloved wife and daughter. We had only this darling girl who was the apple of our eyes. I walked back home, eager to see and be with them. I was feeling blessed and empowered.
The last thing I expected happened. My dear darling daughter, my only child came dancing with tambourines to greet me. I was aghast. “What a fool I had been.” I thought. My mood slipped sharply. I fell into deep depression. “If only I had kept my mouth shut” I wailed.
We all cried together. The three of us. Our tears knew no bounds. What a desperate situation! Both my wife and daughter were supportive once they got over the shock of what was going to happen.
My dear darling daughter asked me for a favour. “Let me alone for two months. I want to go with my friends. Let me mourn for myself.”
They left to weep on the mountains as we wept in our dark valley, me and my wife. Two months flew past and soon the dark day arrived. Oh how I thought of ways to escape from this day!
But my friends the elders said, “You have made a vow before the Lord. You can’t back out now. You should have thought twice before you made it. It is too late now.” Their words stung me as I stood on the brink of despair. “What can I do now?” I wept. I felt devastated.”What a fool had I been? What a careless man?” But then the vow made unto the Lord had to be done.
I gave the word.
They torched the wood. The flames burned brightly. She didn’t say a word. My poor, poor child. I turned away. The flames licked her body. My soul, my heart went up in flames. I was seared. I was on fire. “Oh why did this have to happen? After the blessed victory which God gave us? If only I hadn’t made that vow. If only…”
I am inconsolable, desperate and despondent. I, Jephthah, am weeping
as I muse, “If only I had the good sense to keep my mouth shut!”
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