The story of Jephthah’s Daughter
Critical analysis of the story
Exposure to the Jewish heritage
פתיחה (5 דק')
The class is divided into groups of three. Each member of the group has a role. 1 is the owner of something valuable ( e.g. a new medicine, car or money ) and promises to 2 to give it to him/her. 3 comes later and asks to borrow the same thing at the same time because he/she has some urgent need for it too. Then 2 and 3 try to convince 1 to keep the promise / broke the promise accordingly to their needs. 1 has to decide who will get this vital object eventually and explain his/her choice.
גוף (35 דקות)
Discussion (5 min)
How did you solve this dilemma?
Did you say NO to 3?
Did you say NO to 2?
What did you feel?
Have you ever given promises you could not fulfil?
What did you feel then?
Glossary (5 min)
advance -to go or move something forward
avenge – to do harm to or punish someone who responsible for something bad done to you
bewail – to express great sadness or disappointment about something
inspire – to make someone feel that they want to do something and can do it
lament – to express sadness and feeling sorry about something
spirit – a state of mind or attitude; something that can be felt to be present but cannot be seen
submit -to allow another person or group to have power or authority over you
vow – to make a promise to do something
Reading (10 min)
T: Now imagen the situation when someone gives the word to the Lord.
The story of Jephthah’s Daughter (my adaptation of “929 English” – Judges 11)
Jephthah was a great military leader of ancient Israel. The people of Ammon prepared to war against Israel. After the failure of diplomacy to settle the Israelite-Ammonite crisis, Jephthah was inspired to prepare for battle. The spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah then he advanced toward the people of Ammon. And Jephthah made the following vow to the LORD: “If you deliver the Ammonites into my hands, then whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me on my safe return from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s and will be offered by me as a burnt offering (קָרְבַּן עוֹלָה).” So Jephthah advanced toward the Ammonites and attacked them, and the LORD delivered them into his hands. Thus, the Ammonites submitted to the Israelites. When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with a tambourine (תֹּף מִרְיָם) and dancing; and she was his only child; he had no other son or daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Oh, my daughter! You have brought me low! You have become my troubler! For I have given my word to the LORD, and I cannot go back on it.”
“Father,” she said, “you have given your word to the LORD; do to me as you have vowed, seeing that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites.” “Let this be done for me: let me be for two months, and I will go with my companions and lament upon the hills and there bewail my maidenhood (נְעוּרִים, בְּתוּלִים).” He let her go for two months, and she and her companions went and bewailed her maidenhood upon the hills. After two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed.
Write a paragraph (15 min): provide your insight into the story. What does this story teach you? Do you find any similarities to ” The Binding of Isaac ” ( עקידת יצחק)? If you do, what are the similarities? What are the differences?
סיכום (5 דק')
T: Who of you thinks that Jephthah indeed sacrificed his daughter?
Teacher counts the students who think Jephthah did not sacrifice his daughter. Teacher asks why they think so. (Probable answers:1-prohibition of human sacrifice; 2-Jephthah’s daughter cries about her maidenhood, but not her life).
Then teacher counts the students who think Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter. Teacher asks why they think so.
T: The majority opinion among commentators is that Jephthah killed his daughter as an act of human sacrifice. There is, however, a minority opinion that Jephthah’s daughter spent the rest of her life in seclusion.