lament for Jephthah’s daughter.

and Yiftach comes in to Mizpah to his house and lo, his daughter comes out to meet him with timbrels and with choruses. and save her alone he has none, son or daughter. (Judges 11.34)

and Yiftach comes in to Mizpah to his house
and lo, who comes out to greet him but his treasure?

and she comes out with tambourines and with choruses leaping from her mouth
because her dad is the boss-dawg in the land
he just whipped Ammon’s troops with the whip of his boss-dawg hand

and she comes out with laughter that dances through the hills
because rest is finally theirs
Yisrael has rest from the blows of their in-laws
Yiftach risked his life for it and won
though his was not the only life risked in his struggle for reprieve

she is his only child, apart from her he has none
neither boy nor girl to prolong the honour of his name
                                                                                                                           she is the first
to breach the doors of her mother’s womb
and first to rush out of their home into the loss his vow promised:

       ‘if you bring me back alive Yahveh
       I will sacrifice with fire whatever comes out of my house’

and Yiftach stands dead in his gate

his elation drains from his face
the chorus soon faints in his daughter’s mouth
she grows still before him, her puzzled brow asking
‘daddy what’s wrong—I thought we won?’

a cry tears loose from his throat
they grieve his victory together
and she requests two months more to mourn
to roam the hills mourning the vows she would never make to a man
the promise of faithfulness she would never seal with a kiss
the divine fruit she would never bear in the world

to embrace her lot outside the camp

and Yiftach goes in to comfort his wife
but their home remains bereft
while each year the virgins go up to weep for the crown he lost

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