The daughter of Jeftah died?

Soren Holst sh at
Mon Jun 3 07:24:31 EDT 2002

Could it be the text SAYS she was ritually sacrificed, but does not 
necessarily report historical events? I'd tend to think the text is a
piece of Israelite/jewish philosophical reflection on themes like fate and
human responsibility. Some might even say it's a lot more edifying that way.

Huh?  What is this supposed to mean.  Please expand. 


Sorry for not having answered before. Was on my way from Copenhagen to
Jerusalem. I should possibly have kept out of this, as I don't have a
well-thought-out and "finished" interpretation of the Yiphtach episode that
I want to promote. All I wanted to say was, if we focus on the historical
referent of the text (the past event), and so limit interpretation of the
text to questions of how that EVENT is to be understood ("an early stage in
Israelite reliogion" vs "an early perversion of Israelite religion") we
might be entirely overlooking issues of how the TEXT is to be understood,
which might have nothing to do with what may or may not have happened in the
past, but rather with how the world was perceived by the author and his
community of faith. I wouldn't necessarily call it a morality tale (as the
point could be about matters other than the strictly ethical) and certainly
wouldn't say it was "just" a morality (or any other brand of) tale, as tales
may often have more, and not less, to tell us than eye-witness reporting.
I'm not sure whether the text offers an answer or not, but it seems to me
quite obviously to be raising a philosophical question buy asking something
like "is a man to blame if he involuntarily commits himself morally (by
making a promise) to carrying out an utterly immoral act like sacrificing
his child? And what is God's role in this?". Actually I think this is rather
close to the problematic Soren Kierkegaard took up in writing about the
Aqedah/Abraham's proposed sacrifice of his son -- thanks Ben Crick for the
reference -- and I can't believe the ancients were so much more callous than
Kierkegaard that they couldn't perceive the horror of killing one's child.

(I shall shut up on the subject now - I have things to do in Jerusalem)

shalom uvrakha lekolkhem

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