Regarding Jephthah’s daughter

I linked yesterday to Rachel Barenblatt’s poem on “the nameless daughter of Yiftach (in English, his name is usually rendered Jephthah).”

The story of Jephthah is told in Judges 11, with the fate of his daughter described in Judges 11:34-40. Before going to battle with the Ammonites, Jephthah made a vow to God:

“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.”

He defeats the enemy and returns home, and then:

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 to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.”

Barenblatt teaches me something I hadn’t known about this story, and about the winter holy days we celebrate in December:

Tekufat tevet, the winter solstice, is regarded as the date when Yiftach’s [Jephthah’s] daughter was killed.

The darkest day of the year seems appropriate for such a dark story. Note that this tradition assumes that Jephthat’s daughter “was killed.” That is undeniably what this story suggests — a sacrifice to God “as a burnt-offering.” Barenblatt’s powerful poem reflects on this. Read the whole thing, but here is the final stanza:

when he burned her bones
no prophet spoke God’s anger
and the maidens mourned alone

She also points us to Alicia Ostriker’s long poem/ritual script/cantata “Jephthah’s Daughter: A Lament.” Ostriker begins with the final verse in the story of Jephthah and his daughter as the basis for this ritual:

And it was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

This is in the Bible, so for Christians, this story is part of our story.

Narcisse Diaz de la Pena, “Lament of Jephthah’s Daughter,” 1846.

And we don’t even know her name.

Some interpreters of this story have latched onto a slightly less horrifying reading, suggesting that Jephthah’s daughter was not killed as a sacrifice, but was instead dedicated to God, set apart in seclusion as a perpetual virgin.

I certainly prefer that reading to the plainer one, but as much as I’d prefer to read this story that way, I don’t find the case for this reading very persuasive. This is the book of Judges — a relentlessly bloody collection of tales of slaughter, rape, terror and even a suicide bombing. There’s little in the chapters preceding or in the chapters following the story of Jephthah that suggests we should look for a less horrifying way of spinning this story.

The entry on Jephthah in the Jewish Encyclopedia mentions this alternative interpretation, but dismisses it:

According to some commentators … Jephthah only kept his daughter in seclusion. But in Targ. Yer. to Judges xi. 39 and the Midrash it is taken for granted that Jephthah immolated his daughter on the altar, which is regarded as a criminal act; for he might have applied to Phinehas to absolve him from his vow. But Jephthah was proud: “I, a judge of Israel, will not humiliate myself to my inferior.” Neither was Phinehas, the high priest, willing to go to Jephthah. Both were punished. …

The rabbinical commentary on the story is fascinating:

The Rabbis concluded also that Jephthah was an ignorant man, else he would have known that a vow of that kind is not valid; according to R. Johanan, Jephthah had merely to pay a certain sum to the sacred treasury of the Temple in order to be freed from the vow; according to R. Simeon ben Laḳish, he was free even without such a payment (Gen. R. l.c.; comp. Lev. R. xxxvii. 3). According to Tan., Beḥuḳḳotai, 7, and Midrash Haggadah to Lev. xxvii. 2, even when Jephthah made the vow God was irritated against him: “What will Jephthah do if an unclean animal comes out to meet him?”

Later, when he was on the point of immolating his daughter, she inquired, “Is it written in the Torah that human beings should be brought as burnt offerings?” He replied, “My daughter, my vow was, ‘whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house.'” She answered, “But Jacob, too, vowed that he would give to Yhwh the tenth part of all that Yhwh gave him (Gen. xxviii. 22); did he sacrifice any of his sons?” But Jephthah remained inflexible.

What impresses me in this commentary is the rabbis’ condemnation of Jephthah’s vow as “not valid.” That’s quite different from the way I was taught this story in my own evangelical/fundamentalist Christian tradition, in which this story is almost always referred to as that of “Jephthah’s Rash Vow.”

That word — “rash” — is treated as the key point of this story, which is presented as a cautionary tale against imprudent or reckless promises. I don’t recall ever hearing a Sunday sermon on the story of Jephthah, but I probably heard a half-dozen Sunday school or Bible class lessons, and all of them pointed to this as the moral of this immoral story: Don’t make rash vows, because you will be bound by them just like Jephthah was.

And that’s monstrous — almost as horrifying as the original story. Those well-meaning Sunday school teachers all assumed, as Jephthah did, that he was absolutely bound by his vow, no matter what. And thus they all repeated Jephthah’s error — assuming that such vows and rules might somehow matter more than the life of Jephthah’s daughter.

That seems to me to be precisely the opposite of what this brutal little story actually illustrates. It shows us the lethal ignorance and sinful pride of remaining “inflexible.” The story of Jephthah is the story of everyone who decides that vows and codes and rules must be absolute. That way of thinking always ends in death.



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  • flat

    This is the first time I looked at the story of jeptha from this point of view.

    man, that changes everything I knew of this story.

  • Jeez, seems like the lesson should be ‘listen to your damn daughter when she points out that you’re acting like an asshole’, given the excellence of the case she made

  • AndrewSshi

    Clearly the alignment of a lot of fundamentalists is basically Lawful Neutral.

    Most medieval moral theologians said that if you’d made a vow that was a sin, following through with the sinful vow was a worse sin than breaking the vow.

    This is probably also a good place to bring up the oath of the Sons of Fëanor. 

  • Lori

    This story is disturbing on so many levels, not least of which is that, if the translation is correct, Jephthah always intended to make a human sacrifice. One normally doesn’t use “whoever” when talking about animals. He was just bummed that it turned out to be a human he liked instead of one he didn’t care about.

  • Dana

     Well, she didn’t make that case in the actual bible. That argument she makes is part of the rabbinical commentary.

  • Tofu_Killer

    The problem with the Rabbinical  reading of the story is that it suggests that you can back out of a promise to God with a plea to logic/emotion/gut feeling. RTCs cannot allow that anything other than the word of God is a guide to right action.

    There are ideologies in conflict here; biblical fundamentalism cannot allow humanistic concerns cannot get in the way of a literal reading.

  • In fairness, that’s not something she says in the Judges 11 version, but in the rabbinical commentary. In Judges 11, she doesn’t point out that he’s acting like an asshole at all. Quite the contrary:

    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 and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, my companions and I.’

    He lets her go mountain-wandering, and for some reason she doesn’t run away from her crazy stupid father during that two months. Instead she comes back and lets him kill her, because apparently a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

    I think the story would be improved by adding a second daughter (or maybe a sassy gay neighbor) to point out that they’re both being morons.

  • Well more than that it suggests that it’s possible to say words that have no meaning and inherently cannot be binding, if they don’t fit into a larger moral framework. Which is more or less the first and foremost case against most of the really idiot stuff that the fundamentalists tend to push- hatred of gays, hatred of women, hatred of Muslims. If you’re willing to say ‘well that obviously doesn’t count, because that contradicts practically everything else we believe (and also is pointlessly cruel)’ about anything at all, their whole edifice falls apart.

  • Isabel C.

    I’ve read the fairy-tale version of this: the guy promises the devil “what’s standing behind my house”–thinking that it’s an old apple tree that doesn’t give much fruit–and it turns out that the daughter had gone out to water the tree or whatever, and it ends with people getting their hands cut off and marrying kings and so on, which is a somewhat better ending.

    It also makes sense that the guy can’t go back on it in that version–yep, the devil’s gonna hold you to that promise, because he’s the devil–but also makes him look like even more of a git, since…who makes vaguely-worded promises to Satan?

  • Jessica_R

    That’s interesting, the Jehovah’s Witnesses soft pedaled it as she had to stay at the temple as some kind of servant for the rest of her life too. And the moral they took was that Jephthah was an upstanding guy who kept his promises even when it was “hard”. Yeah. It’s why Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies, because it clearly says that when an order or a promise makes every moral fiber in your body cry out in injustice, you say no. No, with no apologies. 

  • Gray Embry

    “She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her.”
    So, he walked into this vow *knowing* that he was going to sacrifice his daughter or wife, since there was no one else there to come out and greet him. “Let me kill all these enemies, O Lord, and I’ll burn up my daughter or wife in return”.

    And God lets him.


  • EllieMurasaki

    My understanding is he was expecting to lose a favored pet or perhaps a servant. The latter isn’t an improvement and the former not much of one, but losing a person he loved was not (he thought) on the table.

  • Albanaeon

    Considering Abraham and Isaac, and we know that God has a history of changing his mind on human sacrifice, Jephthah’s daughter’s fate is particularly chilling to me.  A son, SAVE HIM!  Daughter?  Well, he needs to learn about making rash vows.  Ughh. Evangelical Bible traditions.  Just about as bad as what one group was talking about with the Amalekites and their slaughter.  For them, the moral was you had to obey God no matter what and He’s well within his rights to get pissy if you don’t slaughter everyone like you were told.  That there’s something WRONG with slaughtering everyone didn’t even come up.

    Finding that there really are people for whom “right” is defined as “coming from someone with authority” was not pleasant.

  • Lori

    As Ellie points out, the household would have included servants and IIRC it would have been reasonable for him to expect that one of those servants would be the first to meet him. He was also the head of some sort of criminal enterprise before being asked to help defeat the Ammonites and it’s possible he had in mind to sacrifice one of his outlaws. To the god who was supposedly superior to those other people’s gods in part by virtue of not demanding human sacrifice. Which god apparently agrees to the deal because he gives Jephthah the victory he was bargaining for and then lets him kill his daughter.

  • Drake

    Well, he doesn’t demand human sacrifice, but, you know, as long as you’re offering, he might as well imbibe, just to see what all the fuss is about…

    It’s kind of like when your friend is on a diet, and won’t actively seek out certain food, but if you happen to be eating that food he’ll find some elaborate reason why sharing it with you isn’t breaking his diet.

  • Mark Z.

    Isabel C.: who makes vaguely-worded promises to Satan?

    Answer: A guy who thinks he has an ace up his sleeve and forgets that he’s dealing with Satan.

    Fairy tales unanimously say that trying to cheat the devil is never smart.
    (You can outsmart him, but this requires you to be smart, and see above. The way to outsmart the devil is by being meticulously honest, humble, and realistic. Think Sam Gamgee.) And we can tell this dude is cheating because he’s making a deal while thinking
    “ha ha, this is going to cost me nothing of value”. That’s a great way to hose yourself.

    It doesn’t help that this guy thinks of his old apple tree as worthless, either; the apple tree behind your house is family, and you don’t kick family to the curb because
    they’re getting on in years and no longer contributing like they once did. That’s just fucking disrespectful. Basically this guy is doing everything possible* to hose
    himself, and he’ll be lucky to live past the end of the second page.

    Jephthah, on the other hand, is not a fairy tale. It’s a scarily plausible story
    about a violent religious fanatic doing what violent religious fanatics do. His karma doesn’t catch up to him. His daughter dies and he lives. I don’t know what else to say.

    * Well, not everything.

  • quietglow

    “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. ”

    Even back in Sunday school it was apparent he had trouble taking responsibility. God did it! His daughter did it! All he can do is kill people. 

  • Kubricks_Rube

    In fairness, that’s not something she says in the Judges 11 version, but in the rabbinical commentary. In Judges 11, she doesn’t point out that he’s acting like an asshole at all.

    This distinction gets at an interesting thing about “literal” readings. The allegedly literal evangelical/fundamentalist reading, which allows for no interpreataion, no extrapolation, turns the story into a fable with one-dimensional characters and an oversimplified moral; it doesn’t treat the characters as real people at all. The Rabbinical commentary on the other hand, which fundamentalist Christians would not consider “literal” at all, treats the characters as actual people with personalities, inner lives and motivations. By working to make the story as written conform to real life instead of the other way around, the Rabbinical commentary confers a narrative cohesion to the story that the fundamentalist version of a literal reading negates.

  • (or maybe a sassy gay neighbor)

    Got you covered.

  • depizan

    Yeah, that struck me, too.  What kind of vow was that in the first place?  And why did God honor the bargain at all?  Why would God _want_ to give him what he asked for when what he offered in exchange should’ve been abhorent.  (Shouldn’t it?  I’m rather vague on what God approves of.)

    At least the modern “oh God, save my butt” prayers generally involve the prayer giving up something.  “Oh, God, please let me ace this test and I promise to give up coffee.”

  • SketchesbyBoze


    So reassuring to know that the fundamentalist reading is often the opposite of what the text intended.

  • Loquat

    I’ve read another fairy tale that’s an even closer imitation of this story; a fellow somehow gets into a situation where he’s asked to kill the first living creature that meets him when he gets home – I’ve forgotten why he agrees to it, but there’s something important at stake – and he explicitly thinks that he’s agreeing to kill his faithful dog, because the dog’s made a habit of being first out the door to greet visitors for years and years. And, of course, by the time this guy gets home a few more years have passed and the dog is aging or lame and the kids are old enough to outrun it.

  • Jephthah, on the other hand, is not a fairy tale. It’s a scarily
    plausible story about a violent religious fanatic doing what violent
    religious fanatics do. His karma doesn’t catch up to him. His daughter
    dies and he lives. I don’t know what else to say.

    Seems like the last time I heard this story, it ended with his wife murdering him, then his son killing his mother to avenge his father, then Athena stepping in and creating the criminal justice system to end the cycle of violence.

  • The_L1985

    To me, the morality seems to be thus:

    1. There should be some way to honorably get out of a rash and horrible oath (like this one).  Someone who uses this approved method is not an oathbreaker, because the Approved Method officially releases you from your oath.

    2. You should have the decency and common sense not to make the sort of oath that renders use of the method in #1 necessary.  This seems to be the logic behind Jesus’s advice to “Swear not at all.”

    3. Breaking a promise, especially when there is an Approved Escape Clause (see again #1), should be considered rather heinous.  After all, if your word cannot be trusted, then YOU cannot be trusted, and in ancient times, trust was a Really Big Deal.

  • The_L1985

    Reading your link, I feel the need to interject that going down to Carterhaugh didn’t work out so badly for Janet and Tam Lin in the end.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but the middle bits sucked.

    Somebody copy the URL of Mark Z’s link please? Disqus strips out little things like a href tags when converting comments to email notifs of comments, and Disqus flat out refuses to load comments on this computer.

  • flat

    Well for now I go with the christian fundamentalist version that she decides to serve God in the temple.
    Because I need some time to figure this one out for myself, sorry this isn’t the kind of thing I was expecting from Jepthah.
    I knew he hated his family and I thought he loved his daughter but I didn’t knew much else about him.

  • Tofu_Killer

    Variations on this device are really common in classic fairy tales. The most famous version is the Beauty and the Beast, but there are plenty of others.

    What I like about the fairy tale versions is that in the absence of a happy outcome like the Beauty and the Beast ending, there is usually a successful attempt to find an escape clause to the promise.

    Por ejemplo:

    There is one story I liked best as a child, and it is the story of a man who makes the promise to kill the first thing he sees when he returns home, knowing that his favorite daughter is the one meant to be killed, but gets out of it by wearing a blindfold until the near-dead family dog is carried out to him.
    You know now that I think of it, it usually sucks to be the dog in these stories. It’s like they all wear red shirts.

    I was also apparently a morbid child.

  • quietglow

     All he really needs to do is hide in a crate and have a couple of guys tell his family it’s a delivery and carry it inside. Terms fulfilled: nobody comes out to greet him, nobody is sacrificed.

  • The_L1985

    And…well, I guess it rather did.  Sacrifices to Satan?  Watching someone transform into all kinds of nasty beasties before your very eyes?

  • EllieMurasaki


    And having to hold on to the nasty beasties despite the high risk that the beasties will take exception to being held.

    The hell is ‘eel broo’?

    If your old flame shows up uninvited at your wedding, start eyeing the exits. There’s a chance he/she is a Doleful Ghost. Be that as it may, no good will come of it.

    I’m trying to figure out how that works given the scenario set out in the song “Friends in Low Places”.

  • Tricksterson

    Obviously she was an uppity woman for trying to correct her father.

  • Tricksterson

    “Clearly the alignment of a lot of undamentalist is basically Lawful Neutral Lawful Stupid”

    Fixed that for you.

  • Tricksterson

    Damn Jews, what right have they got to go thinking they know the Bible better than we do!

  • Tricksterson

    I’m guessing that he thought it would be a servant who are not of course real people.

  • EllieMurasaki

    But suggest that anyone, even Christians disagreeing with the
    speaker, might know the Bible better than the Christian speaker, and oh the shitstorm.

  • Tricksterson

    The term “burnt offering” pretty much kills that option doesn’t it?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not convinced that ‘true love’ is a phrase applicable to someone who poisons one, but okay. Thanks.

  • flat

    thanks it is nice that you have been so sympathetic towards me about this difficult subject  concerning my faith.

  • mickey4727

    Some critics and scholars have condemned Jephthah for his
    vow, having the view that Jephthah followed the practice of other nations,
    offering up his daughter by fire as a human burnt offering. But this is not the
    case. It would be an insult to Jehovah, a disgusting thing in violation of his
    law, to make a literal human sacrifice. He strictly commanded Israel: “You must
    not learn to do according to the detestable things of those nations. There
    should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass
    through the fire . . . For everybody doing these things is something detestable
    to Jehovah, and on account of these detestable things Jehovah your God is
    driving them away from before you.” (De 18:9-12) Jehovah would curse, not
    bless, such a person. The very ones Jephthah was fighting, the Ammonites,
    practiced human sacrifice to their god Molech.—Compare 2Ki 17:17; 21:6; 23:10;
    Jer 7:31, 32; 19:5, 6.

    When Jephthah said: “It must also occur that the one coming
    out, who comes out of the doors of my house to meet me . . . must also become
    Jehovah’s,” he had reference to a person and not an animal, since animals
    suitable for sacrifice were not likely kept in Israelite homes, to have free
    run there. Besides, the offering of an animal would not show extraordinary
    devotion to God. Jephthah knew that it might well be his daughter who would
    come out to meet him. It must be borne in mind that Jehovah’s spirit was on
    Jephthah at the time; this would prevent any rash vow on Jephthah’s part. How,
    then, would the person coming out to meet Jephthah to congratulate him on his
    victory “become Jehovah’s” and be offered up “as a burnt offering”?—Jg 11:31.

    Persons could be devoted to Jehovah’s exclusive service in
    connection with the sanctuary. It was a right that parents could exercise.
    Samuel was one such person, promised to tabernacle service by a vow of his
    mother Hannah before his birth. This vow was approved by her husband Elkanah.
    As soon as Samuel was weaned, Hannah offered him at the sanctuary. Along with
    him, Hannah brought an animal sacrifice. (1Sa 1:11, 22-28; 2:11) Samson was
    another child specially devoted to God’s service as a Nazirite.—Jg 13:2-5,
    11-14; compare the father’s authority over a daughter as outlined in Nu 30:3-5,

    When Jephthah brought his daughter to the sanctuary, which
    was in Shiloh at that time, he undoubtedly accompanied his presentation of her
    with an animal burnt offering. According to the Law, a burnt offering was
    slaughtered, skinned, and cut up; the intestines and shanks were washed; and
    its body, head and all, was burned on the altar. (Le 1:3-9) The wholeness of
    such offering represented full, unqualified, wholehearted dedication to
    Jehovah, and when it accompanied another offering (as, for example, when the
    burnt offering followed the sin offering on the Day of Atonement), it
    constituted an appeal to Jehovah to accept that other offering.—Le 16:3, 5, 6,
    11, 15, 24.

    It was a real sacrifice on the part of both Jephthah and his
    daughter, for he had no other child. (Jg 11:34) Therefore no descendant of his
    would carry on his name and his inheritance in Israel. Jephthah’s daughter was
    his only hope for this. She wept, not over her death, but over her “virginity,”
    for it was the desire of every Israelite man and woman to have children and to
    keep the family name and inheritance alive. (Jg 11:37, 38) Barrenness was a
    calamity. But Jephthah’s daughter “never had relations with a man.” Had these
    words applied only to the time prior to the carrying out of the vow, they would
    have been superfluous, for she is specifically said to have been a virgin. That
    the statement has reference to the fulfilling of the vow is shown in that it
    follows the expression, “He carried out his vow that he had made toward her.”
    Actually, the record is pointing out that also after the vow was carried out
    she maintained her virginity.—Jg 11:39; compare renderings in KJ; Dy; Yg; NW.

    Moreover, Jephthah’s daughter was visited “from year to
    year” by her companions to ‘give her commendation.’ (Jg 11:40) The Hebrew word
    ta·nah′, used here, also occurs at Judges 5:11, and in that text is variously
    rendered “recount” (NW), “rehearse” (KJ), “recounted” (AT), “repeat” (RS). The
    word is defined in A Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (edited by B. Davies, 1957, p.
    693) as “to repeat, to rehearse.” At Judges 11:40 the King James Version
    renders the term “lament,” but the margin reads “talk with.” As Jephthah’s
    daughter served at the sanctuary, doubtless like other Nethinim (“Given Ones”
    devoted to sanctuary service), there was much she could do. These persons
    served in gathering wood, drawing water, doing repair work, and undoubtedly
    performing many other tasks as assistants to the priests and Levites there.—Jos
    9:21, 23, 27; Ezr 7:24; 8:20; Ne 3:26.

  • Lord Randal does seem a bit slow on the uptake :)

  • Mark Z.

    In the slightly longer view, that’s what happens here. The tribal elders eventually get sick 0f these self-appointed adventurer heroes, go to God’s representative, and demand a real government.

    YHWH is a lot more morally ambiguous than Athena, so instead of jury trials and the Furies submitting to the rule of law, they get a monarchy with a big disclaimer saying “If your king turns out to be a tyrant or an idiot, that’s your own problem.” (This didn’t completely end the era of self-appointed adventurer heroes, either; David was one of those before becoming king.) But they do end up with a real army for defense, and a religious infrastructure that cracked down on human sacrifice and other abuses.

  • MaryKaye

    In Hawai’i if you broke kapu and were going to die for it, you could flee to the City of Refuge and be purified there and then go home.  They didn’t make it easy to get there–we heard several stories of people swimming the bay to do it, and it’s rocky and rough with high waves–but at least you could try.

    This story is like a horrible echo of Abraham and Isaac, which is a horrible enough story in itself.  When I was a young Christian I was taught that human sacrifice was for the nasty pagan gods, but it really doesn’t look that way in the source material.  I can’t believe that Jephthah’s culture had a strong taboo against human sacrifice–otherwise the oath would not have occurred to him in the first place, nor would his neighbors have tolerated his carrying it out.  Not to mention the priest who presumably had to officiate at this sacrifice.

    I did a pagan rite working (with considerable trepidation) with Tezcatlipoca, and had occasion to ask “What about the human sacrifices?  Was that right?”  I won’t claim any divine status for the answer–it could easily be a projection of my own subconscious–but it was “They were right to think that sacrifice was required; they were wrong to think that you can sacrifice someone else.”  Even as a Christian I couldn’t get around that.  Abraham makes sense if your son is your possession; morally it makes no sense to me if your son is a person.

    My Christian teachers never mentioned the idea that maybe Abraham was supposed to say no, and the ram was God’s last-minute save when he didn’t.  But there was no last-minute save for Jephthah’s daughter.

  • Mark Z.

     That’s an interesting theory.

    I will admit that I don’t trust you, because

    (1) you spell it “Jehovah”, which nobody else does except Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are a bunch of kooks;
    (2) you rely heavily on Deuteronomy, which hadn’t been written yet;
    (3) you rely heavily on the King James, while modern translations pretty consistently reject the reading you propose; and
    (4) you presume the character and behavior of God to be consistent from one book of the Bible to the next, which is not generally the case.

    But you have provided enough evidence for your position that it can’t be dismissed out of hand. I’ll look into it.

  • Lliira

    As Tofu Killer points out, this is a common trope. Worse, these days it’s usually played for laughs. Not immolating your daughter, but gambling her away. Or your wife. As if you own her in the first place. As if it’s funny that a man would value a woman in his family so little that he’d sell her into sexual slavery on basically a whim.

    “I’ll pay you a million dollars to sleep with your wife.” That was a hit a pretty short time ago. We still think men own women.

  • Lliira

    In the case of Aztecs, by the time of the 14th century, they were “sacrificing” huge numbers of their enemies in order to get rid of them. It was attempted genocide, not sacrifice.

    For sacrifice that is actually sacrifice, much less common, and somewhat more defensible from a theological standpoint, look into the Maya.

  • Actually, LaHaye and compatriots have used that rendering of God’s name, and LaHaye is most assuredly no Jehovah’s Witness.

  • EllieMurasaki

    LaHaye is, however, most assuredly a kook.

  • Caravelle

     Was it “whoever” (by which I mean “a word that denotes a person and not an object”) in the original though ?