Tag Archives: vow

The Silence Itself Turns Into Speech

Women as Booty in War3
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Women as Property

As part of a whole section of rape legislation, Deut. 21 outlines the laws for taking women as booty during war. Sometimes it is difficult to read the Bible, particularly the rape texts and it’s easy to relegate the Bible to “long ago and far away.” Vastly different from our time, so the argument goes; most ancient cultures stole wives and the Israelites were just fitting in with their neighbors. “[T]he abduction of women by men for marital purposes is a familiar feature in nation-building myths of the ancient world” (Zlotnick, p.47). Furthermore, most often the rape laws and stories are classified as seduction, marriage or love. A traditional commentator “emphasizes the need for marriage as the law’s noble intention. That the marriage is coerced does not become problematic for the commentators” (Scholz, p.109). Here is a typical example of this kind of thinking:  Continue reading

Hannah and the Sacred Medium of Language


“Samuel Dedicated by Hannah 
at the Temple” 
Frank W.W. Topham, 19th century

At first glance, Hannah’s tale is a typical patriarchal tale reinforcing a woman’s role and function as merely biological; maternal yearnings are not personal but a result of a social setting that prizes women for their reproductive potential above all else. Continue reading

Rahab and the Rope of Hope


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“Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim, saying, ‘Go, reconnoiter the region of Jericho.’ So they set out, and they came to the house of a harlot named Rahab and lodged there.” Joshua 2:1

According to Matthew 1:5 the Canaanite prostitute, Rahab, is one of Jesus’ ancestors. The ancient rabbis envisioned her as the foremother of priests and prophets, including Jeremiah and Huldah, even a foremother of kings. To make matters even stranger, they describe Rahab marrying Joshua! Continue reading

Jephthah’s Daughter: How to Regard the Silence of God

Jephthat's daughter1

“Then the Spirit of the Lord was upon Jephthah And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the Lord gave them into his hand… Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’ And she said to him, ‘My father, 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 avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.’So she said to her father, ‘Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions.’ ” (Judges 11:29-37)

The judge and general Jephthah maked a vow to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house when he returned victorious from battle. When it was his daughter who danced out of his house, he maked no effort to rescind his oath. To further complicate matters, Jephthah made his vow under the influence of the Spirit of Yahweh. His military victory seems to be a tacit acceptance by God of the terms of his vow.  Lev. 27:1-8 stipulates a payment can be made to annul a vow made to God. My first question is obvious. Wasn’t there a way to avert this tragedy? Continue reading