Based on Judges 11:30-40, when Jephthah had to sacrifice his (nameless) daughter because of a vow to the Lord.
Tirzah impatiently kneaded bread by her mother’s side, looking out the window nearly every minute. Surely her father would be coming home by now. If they had been victorious.... Fear and worry stabbed her heart. She stopped what she was doing and ran to pear out the door. “Tirzah!” Her mother, Zipporah, reprimanded. “Your father will come home in the Lord’s timing. Now come help me!” Tirzah obediently left the doorway and did as she was told. However, her mother could not keep her mind in check, which had soared to her father’s side once again. The last few weeks had been exciting ones for her family and all who followed her father, Jephthah, who was a godly man and a mighty warrior. Her father was a Gileadite, but had been driven away from home because his mother was a prostitute. Yet, now that his homeland was in trouble from the Ammonites, the elders of Gilead had begged Jephthah to help them, and then they had made him leader over them.
Jephthah had marched to war a few days ago and Tirzah, his only child, had been overjoyed for the father she adored. Now she eagerly awaited his return, which was expected daily. However, someone else was also on her mind; someone who was returning with her father. Once all her chores were done, Tirzah put on her best dress, did up her hair and ran outside the house. As she waited, she thought of Asher, the young, handsome warrior in her father’s army. Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of shouting, cheering and tambourines.
Gathering her dress, Tirzah nimbly climbed upon the roof to see what all the noise was about. Not too far away, she saw a victorious army led by her father and Asher was at his side. Her heart swelling with joy and pride, Tirzah climbed off the roof and ran inside to tell her mother the good news. People with tambourines had gathered around her house, clapping and shouting. Tirzah was a beautiful girl of sixteen, and the people of Tob asked her to dance. She began laughing and spinning in the crowd with joy. Seeing her father coming closer, she broke away from the crowd and danced out alone to meet him, wanting to be the first to welcome him home. Her long, dark brown hair swirled over her shoulders, her brown eyes were bright and her small, slender body moved gracefully.
Tirzah stopped in front of her father, expecting his face to be full of pleasure at the sight of her, Jephthah’s Jewel. Instead his face had gone pale and was suddenly overshadowed with despair. The men had become strangely quiet and Asher looked as if a knife had been thrust in his heart. “What’s wrong, Jephthah?” Zipporah’s voice asked quietly from behind Tirzah. Jephthah didn’t answer but instead silenced the crowd with his hand, dismounted from his horse and stood before Tirzah, who now wore a worried frown. Putting his hands on her shoulders, tears began pouring down his cheeks as he said, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the Lord which I cannot break.” Tirzah looked into her father’s eyes and somehow realised that she was going to die. The realisation shocked her speechless and fear struck her heart. Her father brokenly continued. “I made a vow to the Lord that if he gave the Ammonites into my hands, I would sacrifice the first thing that came out of my house to greet me as a burnt offering.”
The crowd behind them gasped and Zipporah began wailing and shouting, “You can’t do this Jephthah! She’s my only child! Please, no!” Tirzah’s eyes filled with tears and she still could not speak, but she somehow remained strong. She knew that a vow made to the Lord could not be broken. She could not beg her father to let her live, otherwise he might die by not honouring his word. “Oh Lord, give me strength.” She prayed silently. As Tirzah began to speak, a strange peace settled over her. “My father,” She replied, her voice surprisingly firm. “You have given your word to the Lord. Do to me as you have promised, now that the Lord has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request. Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.” Her eyes fell on Asher.
“No!” Asher shouted. He dismounted and strode towards her, his powerful body shaking slightly and his brown eyes intense. As he stood over her, Tirzah looked small and fragile next to this tall, strong man, especially now that her fate had been decided. “Don’t let this happen, Tirzah.” He said softly so that only she and her parents could hear. Tirzah looked down miserably and saw her father dismiss the crowd and the army from the corner of her eye. When they were gone, she whispered, “I have to, Asher.” Her voice shook now and her chin began to quiver, but she knew she had to be brave. Asher reached out as if to comfort her but stopped in time, knowing it was inappropriate in their culture.
Instead he whispered, “But I love you. Tonight, I was going to ask your father for your hand in marriage.” Tirzah shut her eyes tightly, tears slipping down her cheeks. Opening them, she looked up at Asher. “And I love you. But I must do the right thing and honour my father’s vow. I am... I am sorry, Asher.” Stepping away from him, Tirzah looked questioningly at her father, who was holding her weeping mother. He nodded. “You may go.” Her father kissed her on the cheek, his eyes full of pain, and led Zipporah into the house. Not one person remained except Asher and his presence broke her heart. He stared at her and, seeming to no longer care for propriety, took her in his arms and held her tightly. “I don’t want to let you go, my Tirzah.” He said. “But if you can be strong, then so can I.” He kissed her on top of the head and then released her. “As you spend your last two months, remember that I love you and always will.” With that, he turned around and disappeared from sight.