Jephthah – He Did The Right Thing

Jephthah was the son of a harlot who wandered in Gilead
Her many forays resulted in a liaison which birthed a first son
For Jephthah’s father who duly married another later
More sons soon followed, legitimate heirs were born

Soon all sons came of age and inheritance became the rage
The legitimately-born decided to cast out the harlot’s son
Thus dispossessed, discredited and disinherited
Jephthah left them in peace, more truthfully he fled
He might have wondered at this unfortunate turn
On Destiny’s forked road-he was undone for being accidentally born

Yet the relatives of the fugitive would still recant
And embrace him as the leading light and noblest native
Jephthah was not to know, he spent years in isolation
He honed his integrity and courage which later lit the big stage

The vengeful king of Ammon escavated old grievances
He wanted to recover ancestral territory lost in the annals of history
Three hundred years before, Israel wanted safe passage
Through the territory of Ammon, which they implored in a message

Sihon, then king of Ammon would not, instead he mobilized
His army to fight-they lost the battle and more
Israel acquired their territory, his kingdom became history

The men of Gilead seeing danger sent for the lone ranger
The reviled was now revered and they wanted him to head
The mission to defend Gilead from the Amorite fiends
Jephthah agreed once they promised he would surely lead

Before advancing into battle with the Amorites
He prayed for God’s victorious guidance
And vowed to sacrifice the first thing to emerge from his house
If he returned home wriggling to the beat of victory’s dance

God granted His request, the Amorites were bested
Jephthah returned with the gay garlands of victory
His innocuous daughter, his precious and only child
Came out receive her father with eulogies of joy
Alas! the impossible had happened, horror had come to pass
She came out from the house first, to altar she would go next
For so Jephthah had vowed, when he in prayer bowed

He tore his clothes in anguish, what would he choose?
While tears formed and raced down war-worn cheeks
His heart was palpitating, heaving on a tide of paternal emotions
Yet his anchor stood sure in the storm which was not the norm
For no father, mild or wild will sacrifice his only child

Jephthah did it, and his tearful daughter agreed to the slaughter
She was to be sacrificed as promised to the Lord
She only asked for two months to mourn her virginity
After which she became a legend in Israel for her equanimity

The now-childless Jephthah judged Israel after this for six years
Then he died and joined his fathers as a unsung hero
Who had flourished despite origins of deprivation and sorrow
His life’s pattern showed God can pick princes from dung hills
Certainly Jephthah’s faithfulness is greatly sought after
The greatest sacrifice is not what costs little or naught
But going ahead to sacrifice something that causes you hurt

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