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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: 24 Hours (01/27/11)

TITLE: A Whisper in Gilead
By Virgil Youngblood


Tomorrow at this time, a burnt offering will be made, my father’s vow fulfilled. The candle of my life will be put out. I am the sacrifice to be laid upon the pyre.

The vow he made to God must be kept – it must be. I insist that he keep it. God raised my father, the son of a harlot, to lead Israel. Jephthah is his name. He must not lose favor with God or the confidence of our people.

When he returned victorious leading his army home to Mizpah, I ran out to meet him. Playing my tambourine, celebrating with the other girls, we were singing and dancing with utter abandon. Seeing me he shrieked in terror, silencing our revelry as surely as the unexpected roar of a lion in our midst. I did not know what I had done to anguish his soul, to mar his countenance with vivid distress.

He ran to me, flinging his armor aside, and fell heavily on his knees. Wrapping strong arms around me he placed his head on my breast and wept. “I never thought … I never thought you would come to meet me.

“I asked God for victory. I promised whatever came out of my house as an offering.” He wiped his eyes on the shoulder of his tunic. “God delivered us.” Struggling to his feet he pushed me back to arms length, his strong fingers digging into my slender shoulders. Tears welled in his eyes. With a firm, resolute voice he said, “I must keep my vow.”

Tomorrow will be my last day in the land of Gilead, the land of my birth. I have not traveled far, not nearly as far as my daydreams took me. I am a virgin, of marrying age. Alas! I shall never know a man. I shall never be a wife or a mother.

I am spending this night alone on the mountainside, having sent my friends away. For two months we have sung and danced and cried. This last day I must be alone, to think and remember. I must finish composing my soul for the journey.

This is the last time I will see the moon glide through the darkened sky, the stars dancing merrily in place. I hear the night sounds, the tiny rustlings, the belching of a camel, the braying of an ass, the soughing of a gentle breeze stirring the olive trees.

It is a cool night, refreshing after the stifling heat of the day. A pleasant odor of baked bread lingers, intermingling with the fragrance of grass and trees and stables. But, I am not hungry.

A rooster crows, another answers. Oil lamps twinkle through the window of every home. Jewish families never sleep in the dark.

In the morning I will bathe, apply eye shadow and perfume with care and put on the regal blue robe my mother purchased. Unblemished, wearing no jewelry, I will go to my father at the hour agreed upon. His heart will break, figuratively. Mine will be stopped, literally.

I think it best that I kneel before him at the altar, and raise my chin to await the quick slash of his sharp knife. He will not delegate that task. I know he won’t. I will listen for the whisper of his knife as he draws it from its sheath. I don’t know if I should keep my eyes open or closed, or if it matters? Whatever will be will be.

My blood will be caught and sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, poured out according to ritual. Afterward, I will become a sweet smelling savor, a fragrance wafting heavenward with the heat of burning logs.

My father will reign as judge over Israel, his reputation unblemished: a leader who kept his vow to God.

I am proud of my father.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The above interpretation is fiction. It is based on the strange, interesting and hard to understand Bible story found in Judges 11 & 12.

Jephthah kept his vow and sacrificed his only child? Why? Perhaps Jephthah had in mind Leviticus 27:28 (NKJ): “Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the Lord.”

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This article has been read 492 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Phelps02/04/11
Your descriptions are excellent and what an unusual story to chose. Really, really great!
Colin Swann02/05/11
Lovely Biblical account interesting and so well written. Would have been great if God had have stayed her father's hand as with Abraham when sacrificing Isaac.
Laury Hubrich 02/05/11
We did just have a sermon on Jephthah. I never realized he was in the faith chapter, did you? Our minister said that this man was full of faith but didn't have the right theology. So sad that he followed the ways of the world instead of what God intended. Very good story and I love your title.
Glynis Becker02/05/11
Very compelling story. Well done and thought-provoking.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/06/11
This was a thrilling read. I expected her to be saved somehow. I don't remember that verse, but I do intend to go read it now.
Loren T. Lowery02/07/11
It is only be telling and retelling and challenging our beliefs will the truth ever be truly understood. You've written a truly compelling story, one that causes one to meditate on the mysteries found in scripture. Your story helps bring us just a bit closer to finding that key.
Brenda Rice 02/07/11
Your Mc has such a marvelous voice. Loved this. So well written. Good--good job.
Lollie Hofer02/09/11
Superb story-telling. You did a remarkable job of helping us to see this through the daughter's eyes. In places there was also a feel of poetic prose. Well done.
Noel Mitaxa 02/09/11
You have opened a window on one of the most puzzling and tragic stories in the scripture, without trying to explain it or explain it away. Great character strength and realistic insights.
Tracy Nunes 02/10/11
Congratulations! This was powerful!
Noel Mitaxa 02/10/11
Congratulations on your placing Virgil!
Loren T. Lowery02/11/11
Couldn't seem to keep this story out of my mind. It got me to thinking that Jephthah knew such a sacrifice was against God's laws, but he went ahead and did it anyway. God does that, allows us (free will)to make bad choices...:the Israelites demanding their own King, Judas betraying Christ. The moral of the story does not come about until it is played out totally and one can see the tragedy of such choices. At least that's my take on it for the moment. And now, I'll let it rest. Congratulations on your placement with this fine writing!