in a bit of a sleepy state the other night, i opened to the place my bookmarker was holding for me. to judges 11.
and despite it being the old testament, and despite being pretty tired and despite being even more tired of hearing about the back-and-forth of the israelites, the fact that the chapter opened with a mighty warrior born from a prostitute peaked my interest.
his name was jephthah, and driven out by his brother’s hate, he lived in the hills “where a group of adventurers gathered around him and followed him” (this is rad.)
anyways, the israelites had war upon them once again and these elders decided this hill-dweller should command their army. you should read it for the inbetween bits because what ends up happening is that jephthah strikes a deal with the elders, heads up the army and after the Holy Spirit comes upon him, he advances against their enemies.
and here’s the key turn, verse 30 and 31.
“and jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “if you give the ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when i return in triumph from the ammonites will be the Lord’s, and i will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”
and he goes on to slaughter twenty towns, God gives him victory.
but. this is the part where i started getting nervous. it isn’t going to be a goat walking through that door, what did this dude promise to burn…?
his daughter. his only daughter. dancing to the tambourine welcoming him home. and jephthah tears up his clothes and basically loses it. he made this covenant he can’t break.
and she says this,
“My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the Lord. do to me just as you promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the ammonites. but grant me this one request,” she said. “give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because i will never marry.”
and he says yes, and she does. the bible says, “she and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. after the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed.”
and i can’t even get over this.
1. flip a few pages back and genesis 22 tells the infamous story of abraham being asked to offer up his only son, isaac. it was a test, and abraham passes and isaac lives. everyone loves talking about this story, but i’ve never heard of the judges 11 story. how have i never heard this one…
2. God honors the covenant just as much as jephthah. think about that.
3. she only said two months. why didn’t she ask for more time, or run away, or instantly get married or…demand a trade.
4. i find it absolutely incredible that woman haven’t changed since biblical times. we want to hang out with our girlfriends, and cry. and find comfort in that.
and i can’t believe it because,
i look at this move to vancouver, and going alone. all i can picture in my head is staring down at my feet, looking at the armour laying there and the sword leaning up against the wall, and i have to go back out into the world and fight and protect myself and shield my own heart…on my own.
God’s whispering, “let’s go” and i’m just…
i can’t believe that there was a woman in the bible, maybe even just a girl, who burned alive to honor a covenant, a covenant that wasn’t even hers. and who knows the thoughts or doubts she had between realizing what her father had done and her saying those words to him, but in the end, knowing her heart’s greatest desire would die with her, she chose to obey. and to, literally, honor God with her life.
the bible doesn’t even mention her name. doesn’t mention what she thought about in those two months. doesn’t mention what her relationship with God even was. she only gets a few verses.
i want to be something of that, that trust. that even if i lived til i was 82, and i fought and carried around my own sword my whole life, that even though my hearts greatest desire is to walk towards a good man someday and give him my whole heart, that God would have been enough. all these years, that He is enough for me.
that even if that desire dies with me, that what had mattered was that God and i were mates those 82 years. that i learned to walk in His shadow, and learned the lines in His hands, and carried around His notes on how i need to love people…
i want to be like her.