Women of the Bible
 

Introduction
Table of Contents
 

 

Devorah

The period of the Judges was perhaps the hardest time for women in ancient Israel, in which their social status was the lowest. It was a transition stage in which the Tribes were mainly on their own, with a weak unity among them, each one fighting separately the Canaanite group dwelling in the territories assigned to each Tribe. They were under anarchy and war, and in such conditions, women have almost no possibilities to emerge. Everything was in the hands of men. Women were much less respected than under the patriarchal system, as it is shown by some events reported in the Book of Judges. Their situation improved only when monarchy was established, as at least those ladies linked with the royal house and the notables gained some influence in society.
It was unthinkable for a woman to assume leadership in the period of the Judges, nevertheless, it was properly in this dark age of Israel that Devorah was raised to rule.

HaShem sold them [the Israelites] into the hand of Yavin king of Kena’an, who reigned in Chatzor; the captain of whose army was Sisera, who lived in Charoshet-Goyim. The children of Israel cried to HaShem: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel. Now Devorah, a Prophetess, woman of Lapidot, she judged Israel at that time. She lived under the palm tree of Devorah between Ramah and Beit-El in the hill country of Efrayim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.
(Judges 4:2-5)

It was twenty years that the Canaanites, with a powerful army, were oppressing the Tribes of Israel – except the Tribe of Yehudah, which apparently achieved in conquering all her lands and was indeed a separate entity from the rest of Israel during all the period of the Judges. It is hardly believable that no man was able to lead a revolt; it was not for lack of mighty men, but because none of them was according to the Lord’s design, as “in those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Then, a Prophetess was raised as Judge: Devorah. Excluding Prophet Shmuel, who is considered the last of the Judges and who ruled over all the Tribes, Devorah had at least three exclusive features which made of her unique among all the Judges:
·She was the only female Judge;
·She was the only of the Judges who was also a Prophet;
·She was the only one who judged over all Israel, while all the other Judges ruled over their own Tribe.
She is described as “woman of Lapidot”, which many versions of the Bible translate as “wife”, since there is not a specific word for wife in Hebrew and is the same one as woman. So, it seems likely that woman might not mean wife in this case. Lapidot is a feminine plural meaning “flames”, and it may not be a proper name, but a title or a quality. In fact, eshet lapidot, that literally means “woman of flames”, may be a description of her character. Therefore, the whole statement “Devorah, a Prophetess, woman of Lapidot” may be understood as an unity defining what kind of Prophetess she was, one with ardent zeal like flames. Otherwise, if woman means indeed wife, a rabbinic interpretation identifies Lapidot with Barak, whose name means “lightning”, which may be taken a synonymous of Lapidot and in this way, the statement contains a play on words that defines both her character and whose wife she was. Nevertheless, Barak belonged to another Tribe (and the Mosaic Law established to marry within one’s Tribe), and apparently he lived in another place, in the north of Israel, as she sent and called him (v. 6) from his town. This fact renders the definition “woman of flames” even more meaningful, as she is placed as an equal counterpart with the chief commander of the army – actually, he took orders from her, as we will see.
She established her court under a palm tree in her homeland, in the south of Efrayim, and the Israelites came to her for judgment, a statement that remarks the high esteem that she enjoyed among her people.

She sent and called Barak the son of Avinoam out of Kedesh-Naftali, and said to him, «Has not HaShem, the God of Israel, commanded, [saying], “Go and draw to Mount Tavor, and take with you ten thousand men of the children of Naftali and of the children of Zevulun?”; “I will draw to you, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Yavin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into your hand”». Barak said to her, «If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go».
(Judges 4:6-8)

It sounds weird in the mouth of a mighty warrior, commander of an army, to ask a woman to go with him to war, otherwise, he would not go! This fact shows us what kind of character Devorah had, that she was able to inspire confidence and whose prophetic authority was essential for the development of the battle.

She said, «I will surely go with you: notwithstanding, the journey that you take shall not be for your honor; for HaShem will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman». Devorah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.
(Judges 4:9)

Devorah had no hesitation in accepting Barak’s request, but she made clear that as he did not trust her voice since the beginning but added a condition to accomplish what God had commanded, the glory of the victory will be credited to a woman. The prophecy that Sisera would fall before a woman had a double fulfillment: his army was defeated by the Israelites under the spiritual leadership of Devorah, and he himself was killed by another woman, Yael.

Devorah said to Barak, «Up; for this is the day in which HaShem has delivered Sisera into your hand; has not HaShem gone out before you?» So Barak went down from Mount Tavor, and ten thousand men after him. HaShem confused Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his army, with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot, and fled away on his feet… However Sisera fled away.
(Judges 4:14-15,17)

Devorah shows Barak that the outcome of the battle was determined as she said, that the Lord would have given the enemy into Barak’s hands, but since he added the condition of Devorah going with him, he did not achieve in completing the victory by capturing the chief or the defeated army, who fled away and, as we will see, was given in a woman’s hand (see next: Yael).

So Elohim subdued on that day Yavin the king of Kena’an before the children of Israel. The hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Yavin the king of Kena’an, until they had destroyed Yavin king of Kena’an.
(Judges 4:23-24)

That battle was crucial, so that afterwards the Israelites gained their independence and the Canaanites did not lift their head any more.

Then Devorah and Barak the son of Avinoam sang on that day.
(Judges 5:1)

Literally: “Sang Devorah and Barak the son of Avinoam on that day”, with the verb in singular feminine form. Even though the song is entitled to both Devorah and Barak, she is mentioned first, and by the text it is understood that it was her song, not theirs. This is perhaps the only chapter of the Bible written by a woman, and one of the oldest pieces of Hebrew literature.
Then Devorah explains which was the spiritual condition in Israel when she was called:

«The rulers ceased in Israel. They ceased until I, Devorah, arose; until I arose a mother in Israel. They chose new gods. Then war was in the gates. Was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?»
(Judges 5:7-8)

The situation in those days was as we have described before, that the submission of the people did not happen because there were not mighty men in Israel, but because none of them was according to the Lord’s design. The Israelites had followed other deities, and they lost the favor of the Almighty. Then, Devorah was appointed as Judge and Prophet instead of men, because they ceased to be suitable rulers. She was raised as a mother for her people.
The song continues praising the leaders of the Tribes who followed her in the battle, and rebuking those who preferred to stay behind.
A special praise is pronounced on Yael (which we will consider next), and as a woman and “mother of Israel”, Devorah thinks about the feelings of another woman and mother:

Through the window she looked forth, and peered, the mother of Sisera, through the lattice: «Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the wheels of his chariots? Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil? A damsel, two damsels to every man».
(Judges 5:28,30)

This phrase illustrates which was the concept of women among the Canaanites: spoils of war, one, two for each man. This is what Sisera’s mother expected from the battle, but her son did not come back home.

«So let all your enemies perish, O HaShem, but let those who love him be as the sun when it rises forth in its strength». The land had rest forty years.
(Judges 5:31)

Along the whole song, Devorah credits the Lord for her victories. She ruled the land in peace for forty years, so we assume that she was quite young when she was appointed as Judge and led her first battle. She was certainly a chosen one, the wisest person in Israel in those times.

 

Yael

The liberation battle which was carried on by Devorah was completed with the intervention of another woman, Yael. While Devorah is blameless and seen as a heroine because no questionable behavior of her is reported, Yael instead may be seen as a betrayer like Rahav, and a deceiver like Tamar and Rivkah (according to the conformist patterns). But she knew whose party she should take for, and whom was the Lord with.

Now Chever the Keni had separated himself from the Kinim, even from the children of Chovav the brother-in-law of Moshe, and had pitched his tent as far as the oak in Tzaanannim, which is by Kedesh…  Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Yael the wife of Chever the Keni; for there was shalom between Yavin the king of Chatzor and the house of Chever the Keni. Yael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, «Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; do not be afraid». He came into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, «Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty». She opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. He said to her, «Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man does come and inquire of you, and say, Is there any man here? that you shall say, No». Then Yael Chever's wife took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him, and struck the pin into his temples, and it pierced through into the ground; for he was in a deep sleep; so he swooned and died. Behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Yael came out to meet him, and said to him, «Come, and I will show you the man whom you seek». He came to her; and behold, Sisera lay dead, and the tent peg was in his temples.
(Judges 4:11,18-22)

The Kenites were of the lineage of Yethro, the father-in-law of Moshe, and were tent-dweller coppersmiths, the “Gypsies” of ancient Israel. They had indeed no homeland and were in peace with all the peoples among which they lived. Most of them were settled in Yehudah and Edom, but Hever chose to move northwards and dwelled in the lands ruled by Yavin.
Yael had broken all the rules: First, she had not her husband’s consent to kill the commander of the king with whom he and his house were in peace; then, she was not supposed to invite a man enter her tent when her husband was not present; and last, she violated the most sacred rule of hospitality, killing her guest. Yael’s action was that of great courage and faith. She risked her life and that of her family, as Sisera was fleeing away from a lost battle, but the war was still going on… Yet, she knew that this time the Lord would have turned His favor towards Israel, because Devorah was ruling and leading her people back to the Lord, and Israel would have achieved complete victory over Yavin.
Many may object that she could have not refused Sisera to come into her tent, being defenceless, but from the text we learn that it was she who invited him to enter, not he who requested. She had no weapons to fight an expert warrior as Sisera, even though he was too tired, nor the physical strength to oppose him. She only had her charm, and female wisdom. Her action was not a betrayal, but in the same way as Rahav, she sided with one of the armies in war, and devised a strategy to allow Barak the complete outcome of the battle.
Devorah praised her in her song, with words that no other woman have been said in the Hebrew Scriptures:

Yael shall be blessed above women, the wife of Chever the Keni; blessed shall she be above women in the tent. He asked for water. She gave him milk. She brought him butter in a lordly dish. She put her hand to the tent peg, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer. With the hammer she struck Sisera. She struck through his head. Yes, she pierced and struck through his temples. At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay. At her feet he bowed, he fell. Where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
(Judges 5:24-27)

“Blessed above women” for her action and her character. Devorah’s description of Yael is awesome: First she is presented as a charming lady with refined customs, serving him as a nobleman, and giving him more than what he asked for. She offered him all the comfort she had in her humble tent, and made him feel safe. She gave him a dish which would have granted him relax so as to fall asleep. Then, with the decision of a warrior, she granted him a painless, sweet death.
And so the Canaanites fell by the hand of two women.

 

Ruth

This woman is portrayed as the highest example of loyalty, and there is nothing in her behavior that may be found against the Law. Her story was considered worth being written and became one of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures. Ruth lived in the period of the Judges (Ruth 1:1), and even though the exact time is not relevant for us as we are interested in her person and character, it would be useful to discern some details because the lineage into which she entered is that of King David. According to the Bible, there are six generations between Nachshon, prince of Yehudah and contemporary of Yehoshua, and King David (1Chronicles 2:10-15). Boaz was the grandson of Nachshon, and is believed to be the son of Rahav, which would place the story close to the first Judges, but since Boaz was the grandfather of Yishai, he should have lived closer to the end of the period of the Judges and cannot have been Rahav’s son, and at least two generations should be missing in the middle. A further problem is that Rahav lived during the conquest of Canaan under Yehosua, while Naomi and her husband seem to have emigrated from Yehudah when the conquest was over and they were already settled in the land; then they lived at least ten years in Moav before Naomi returned back and met Boaz. Furthermore, the famine in the land suggests that they were contemporary of Gideon (Judges 6:4-5). Nevertheless, considering that except Devorah, who ruled over all Israel, there may have been different Judges contemporarily ruling over their respective Tribes, and so the succession may be reduced to the four ones of Efrayim, plus the periods of anarchy: in this case, we may consider that Otniel in Efrayim, Ehud in Binyamin and Shamgar (probably in Yehudah, having fought the Philistines) may be placed as partially contemporary; then Gideon and Avdon in Efrayim may coincide for most years with Tola and Elon in Galilee, Ibtzan in Yehudah, Yair and Yiphtah in Gilead and Shimshon in Dan. This arrangement makes possible to count the four generations between Ruth and King David, yet leaving unsolved the gap between Nachshon and Boaz, and it is very likely that a couple of names in the middle were identical in alternate generations and were not transcribed as considered to be repetitions. Notwithstanding, even though Rahav probably was not the mother of Boaz but her grandmother or a generation before, her remarkable character was transferred to her descendant, as it will be shown.

It happened in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Beit-Lechem in Yehudah went to sojourn in the country of Moav, he, and his wife, and his two sons… Elimelekh, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left, and her two sons. They took them wives of the women of Moav; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they lived there about ten years. Machlon and Kilyon died both of them; and the woman was left of her two children and of her husband.
(Ruth 1:1,3-5)

Elimelekh and his family are the first Jewish emigrants reported in the Scriptures. He was not supposed to leave his people in search of a better life in a heathen land, causing his sons to marry women from a people which the Lord explicitly banished from Israel (Deuteronomy 23:3,6). By this reason, he and his sons died within few years in the county where they settled. This is one of the signs which show how much the Law was neglected during that period, in which “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Very likely, Naomi disagreed with her husband about leaving the land which the Lord has given to His people, but we have discussed about the scarce consideration of women in that time, the dark age of ancient Israel.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law, that she might return from the country of Moav: for she had heard in the country of Moav how that the Lord had visited His people in giving them bread. She went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters-in-law with her; and they went on the way to return to the land of Yehudah. Naomi  said to her two daughters-in-law, «Go, return each of you to her mother's house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead, and with me. The Lord grant you that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband». Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voice, and wept. They said to her, «No, but we will return with you to your people».
(Ruth 1:6-10)

Naomi was surely an exceptional woman, so much that both her daughters-in-law were willing to leave their own families and their country to follow her to an unknown land, with an unknown people. Her character was truly like her name, as Naomi means “pleasant”. We know that she insisted to both her daughters-in-law to return back to their homes, and so she convinced Orpah, but not Ruth, who said:

«Do not entreat me to leave you, and to return from following after you, for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death part you and me».
(Ruth 1:16-17)

These are the most celebrated words said by Ruth, as an emblem of devotion and loyalty. In the same way as Rahav, she decided to leave her people and everything she had in her land and follow the God of Israel. This was an action of great courage, as she probably knew that according to the Law she would have not been accepted in Israel, but her decision was without hesitation. Undoubtedly, she did not say that Naomi’s God would have been her God whoever He was, but because she already knew who He is. She knew by faith that the Lord of Israel would have received her in His people, as He is the Most High and the Lawgiver.

Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelekh, and his name was Boaz… Now Boaz went up to the gate, and sat him down there.
(Ruth 2:1; 4:1)

Boaz, being a relative of Naomi’s husband, had the right (and the duty) to redeem Elimelekh’s property, if he was the closest one. He was a prince of Yehudah, being of the lineage of Nachshon, and we may think that he might have been also the Judge of his Tribe, as Yehudah was separated from the rest of Israel long before the monarchy was established (notice that the kings Shaul and David counted Yehudah as a distinct entity from Israel – 1Samuel 11:8, 17:52; 18:6; 2Samuel 2.10-11; 3:10; 5:3-5). It was the elders and the rulers of the city who used to sit down at the gates to discuss legal matters. A curiosity, also Ruth’s forefather Lot was an elder of Sodom and sat in the gate of the city (Genesis 19:1).

Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, «Let me now go to the field, and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor». She said to her, «Go, my daughter».
(Ruth 2:2)

Did Ruth know in whose field would she have worked? Maybe she guessed that the Lord would have led her to the right place, as she acted with the same faith by which she left the safety of her home to live as a foreigner among other people. In any case, she did not want to be a burden to her mother-in-law, but a support.  

Boaz answered her, «It has fully been shown me, all that you have done to your mother-in-law since the death of your husband; and how you have left your father and your mother, and the land of your birth, and have come to a people that you did not know before. The Lord recompense your work, and a full reward be given you of the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you are come to take refuge».
(Ruth 2:11,12)

Boaz had knowledge of Ruth’s spirit. Whether he was Rahav’s son or just a descendant of her, surely Ruth made him remember of Rahav, who dared to challenge the banishment which was pronounced on her people and make a personal choice to join Israel, because she recognized Israel’s God as the One true Almighty. If God redeemed a Canaanite, why would He not redeem also a Moabite?

Naomi, her mother-in-law said to her, «My daughter, shall I not seek rest for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maidens you were? Behold, he winnows barley tonight in the threshing floor. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint you, and put your clothing on you, and get you down to the threshing floor, but do not make yourself known to the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. It shall be, when he lies down, that you shall mark the place where he shall lie, and you shall go in, and uncover his feet, and lay you down; and he will tell you what you shall do». She said to her, «All that you say I will do». She went down to the threshing floor, and did according to all that her mother-in-law told her. When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. It happened at midnight, that the man startled, and turned himself; and behold, a woman lay at his feet. He said, «Who are you?» She answered, «I am Ruth your handmaid: spread therefore your garment over your handmaid; for you are a near kinsman».
(Ruth 3:1-9)

There is much controversy about the meaning of the expressions used in this passage, and what actually happened depends on the correct interpretation of the terms. Naomi’s advice was clear; she knew that Ruth was a very determined woman, and asked her to take a step forward to claim her rights. She knew when it was the propitious time and what to do, and Ruth abode by her mother-in-law’s counsel. The important issue here is that the purpose was achieved and was done according to the cultural and spiritual rules of that time.
Indeed, the text contains overtones and probable euphemisms that are not evident in the translation, and some expressions are not easily understandable, therefore, we can suggest how the events developed without establishing any dogmatic pattern.
Ruth had to make herself pleasant and desirable and wait that Boaz had finished his work and his dinner, then stealthily reach the place in the threshing floor where he would be sleeping and put her plan in action. She had to “uncover his feet and lay down”, which usually is interpreted that she gently took the cover over his feet and laid by his feet as a sign of submission, until the man woke up and noticed her. Even though this would have been possible if there was any kind of cultural code by which such a behavior would have been understood, the act of uncovering one’s feet seems to be rather meaningless. However, this expression may have quite a different meaning: the word “feet” was often used to define the legs or even the lower body, and euphemistically also the intimate parts. Another interpretation which has been suggested is that she uncovered herself and laid by him, but it has not as solid support by the text. The next step was to wait until he told her what to do, but instead it was she who told him to spread his garment over her, meaning that she was to be redeemed by him and it was his duty to take her as wife. Such a behavior would have been correct and coherent with her character. She was in the same situation of Tamar and had to claim for her rights, though she had no need to resort to any tricky strategy and acted with complete frankness.

He said, «Blessed are you by the Lord, my daughter: you have shown more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as you did not follow young men, whether poor or rich. Now, my daughter, do not be afraid; I will do to you all that you say; for all the city of my people does know that you are a worthy woman. Now it is true that I am a near kinsman; however there is a kinsman nearer than I. Stay this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform to you the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to you, then will I do the part of a kinsman to you, as the Lord lives: lie down until the morning». She lay at his feet until the morning. She rose up before one could discern another. For he said, «Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor».
(Ruth 3:10-14)

Boaz recognized her as a worthy woman, and even though her approach to him was a declared proposal of marriage (which might have been accomplished that very night, if he had not remembered his relative who had priority over him), he praised her for her virtue and her loyalty to the Law of Israel, according to which she should not marry outside the family of her dead husband. It seems that Boaz was an elder man, and it is very unlikely that he was still unmarried, mainly being an important personality in his Tribe, and wealthy; therefore, it is probable that he was also a widower. However, she might had chosen other men before him, younger and wealthy, but she preferred to abide by the Law of Israel. Boaz received her in spite of her nation, as Rahav from whom he descended was admitted in Israel because of her faith.

Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people, «You are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelekh's, and all that was Kilyon's and Machlon's, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Machlon, have I taken to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead on his inheritance, that the name of the dead not be cut off from among his brothers, and from the gate of his place: you are witnesses this day»… So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife; and he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son… and they named him Oved: he is the father of Yishai, the father of David.
(Ruth 4:9-10,13,17)

This Moabite woman, whose character was both lovingly and determined, who was like Rahav born heathen but recognized the God of Israel as her God, and who was like Tamar, widow and childless and claimed her rights to have an offspring, was rewarded by the Lord adding her name in the lineage of King David.

 

Yiphtah’s Daughter

We do not now even her name, but she is an emblem of total obedience and submission, according to her own few words which have been reported. She was indeed a victim of her time, in which the knowledge of the Lord was lost in Israel in a period of spiritual decline.

Now Yiphtah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a prostitute… Then Yiphtah fled from his brothers, and lived in the land of Tov: and there were gathered vain fellows to Yiphtah, and they went out with him. It happened after a while, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel… Yiphtah vowed a vow to the Lord, and said, If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be, that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in shalom from the children of Ammon, it shall be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Yiphtah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hand.
(Judges 11:1,3-4,30-32)

Yiphtah was an outcast among the Israelites who lived in the lands east of the Yarden, bordering with Ammon. By that time, the people had forsaken the Law of their God and followed the heathen rites of their neighbors, among which the deities of Ammon and Moav (Judges 10:6), adopting their worship practices. The Ammonites and Moabites used to sacrifice their children to their deity, called Kemosh in Moav and Molekh in Ammon (Leviticus 18:21; Numbers 21:29; 1Kings 11:7,33; 2Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35). In this chapter, both idols are identified as the same one, being called Kemosh (which was the Moabite name) the deity of Ammon (Judges 11:24). It is clear by the verses already mentioned that God had utterly forbidden to imitate their rituals and to be defiled with their practices. Even though Yiphtah shows to have knowledge of his people’s history, he seems not to be well acquainted with God’s Law – he even recognizes Kemosh as the god who gave the Ammonites their land; although maybe this is only a diplomatic statement based on what the Ammonites believed. As many sincere people who serve God even though they do so in the wrong manner, he may have worshipped the God of Israel in good faith but not according to God’s rules. What did he intend, when he said “whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me I will offer it up for a burnt offering”? Did he think that an animal would have come out of his house, as usually do the dogs when their owner arrives from a trip? Or perhaps a servant? But human sacrifices were banished by the Lord! Yiphtah had only one daughter who would have been the most likely being to have come out to greet him!

Yiphtah came to Mitzpah to his house; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. It happened, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, «Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me; for I have promised to the Lord, and I cannot go back». She said to him, «My father, you have promised to the Lord; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because the Lord has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon». She said to her father, «Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions». He said, «Go». He sent her away for two months: and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains. It happened at the end of two months, that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she was a virgin. It was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Yiphtah the Gileadite four days in a year.
(Judges 11: 34-40)

The virtue and meekness of this girl are unique. She did not argue with her father, but considered that he should have been faithful to his vow as something more important than her own life. Like Yitzhak who did not resist Avraham when he was laid on the altar to be slaughtered – but Avraham did not make a vow by himself; he was commanded by the Lord, Who did not let him to accomplish the sacrifice. Yiphtah’s daughter behaved like the servant of the Lord in Isaiah 53:7, “as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he did not open his mouth”. She only requested to mourn her virginity, as she would have not had the honor of women, to leave a descent. And she was slain. There are many who try to give a revisionist interpretation, alleging that Yiphtah did not slaughter her and only sacrificed her to perpetual virginity; but if it was so, why should the daughters of Israel lament every year a girl who remained virgin?...

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. ~ Psalm 116:15.

 

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