And Jephthah came to Mizpeh to his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances…
It is this wail of Jephthah's daughter that rises from every generation of this world's history. What we are all of us called upon to see with our own eyes, and judge with our own hearts, is a similar, or much more grievous waste of all that is good in human nature, of devotedness to country and family, of fine feeling, of the best intellect. Again and again, in our own society, we see the most splendid mental abilities squandered in the quest of what can never be discovered, the truest eloquence and highest moral feeling consecrated to a cause that is not worth lifting a finger to defend. Who has not seen the most precious human feelings wasted, you would say, on worthless people, while they might have fertilised and enriched responsive natures — the noblest devotedness sacrificed to a mere lie, or deception, or mockery? Two months was not too long to weep over the dreadful misguidedness of human actions, and the consequent waste or outward unprofitableness of what is best in human nature. Still, there is a compensating element even here. These companions who sympathised with their friend, and at last decked her as if for her bridal, and gave her into her father's hands, must no doubt have felt to the close of life that a world in which anything so tragic could happen was a blighted, melancholy world. Still, as they themselves passed through the various womanly duties that fell to them, and felt still the hold that event had taken; as they told the story of the noble maiden to their own children, and found how it moved and controlled them, and how many, through that example, were urged to more self-sacrificing deeds, and to higher thoughts about what is beautiful and good in life; must not these women sometimes have thought that possibly the real children of Jephthah's daughter, those who had truly succeeded to her nature, were more and better than could have been hers, had she lived? If then by family circumstances, or in any other way, we are called upon to sacrifice our own will to what seems a very needless, provoking, and rash plan, what we have to do is to seek to have something of the spirit of Jephthah's daughter, and accept our position without a murmur; knowing that, though we do not see how, any more than she did, this may, and will, by God's blessing, result in such development of our own character, and such enlargement of our usefulness, as could not otherwise be attained.
(Marcus Dods, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.