Friday, June 29, 2007

the daughter of jephthah hides her name in the night

Then the spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh. He passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah he passed on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, to be offered up by me as a burnt offering." So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. He inflicted a massive defeat on them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty towns, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her he tore his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble for me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow." She said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the Lord has given you vengeance against your enemies, the Ammonites." And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: Grant me two months, so that I may go down to the mountains and mourn my virginity, my companions and I." "Go," he said and sent her away for two months. So she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains. At the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to the vow he had made. So there arose an Israelite custom that for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.
-Anonymous, Judges 11.29-40 (10th century B.C.)

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Yuqi Wang, "Ling" (1992)

beyond the long exhale that is night
the vicious lie in wait to consume the innocent
i have wrapped the night around me
as if i could hold it there
my teeth clenched, defiant against the dawn
oh that i were a prophet, i would hold the moon in the sky
and cry out, ‘peace’

by day they trade life for life and blood for blood
but the night denies every division:
hides man from woman, ammon from gilead, the ethiopian from the egyptian
god from humanity
oh that i were a prophet, i would make the moon new
and give birth to the stars: my children

let my name be Secret
so that it cannot be taken
they will ask my father, with the red edge still in his hand
but it will slip from his mind, like a maid before her marriage: dancing, free
oh that i were a prophet, and the voice of war was swallowed by silence
and the silence would cry out, ‘peace’

-LoA

2 comments:

irving said...

Brother, I am speechless with admiration for this exquisite poem, so full of anger at the waste of war, and deaths of the innocent.

How long will Jephthah's daughter be killed over and over, for the sins of the father is making such a hideous pact with religion. There is no God in such a vow, no love, no mercy.

Thank you for the terrbile beauty, and the lesson we all have yet to learn. I am adding you to my blogroll.

Ya Haqq!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

thank you for the words of appreciation, and welcome to the page. i look forward to being able to share more.