Friday, 17 August 2012

Part 2- A Daughter's Strength

Tirzah fetched the girls and then entered the house and began making preparations to head for the hills for two months. Her closest friend, Miriam, and five other girls, Rachel, Ester, Ruth, Tamar and Sara, attended her, tears pouring down their cheeks the whole time. She bid her parents goodbye and walked through Tob, where she had lived her whole life. Keeping her head held high, though her lips quivered, she walked passed her people, as some stared silently, while others cried out their goodbyes. Once she and her friends reached the hills, Tirzah breathed a sigh of relief.  The peacefulness the tall trees and the fresh streams offered her in these hills gave her peace, though also a feeling of loneliness.

For the next two months, Tirzah felt as if she drifted in a dream; in a nightmare that didn’t want to end. She and the girls roamed the hills, mourning and weeping that she would never marry, that her life would be ended prematurely. But mostly, Tirzah mourned for Asher and her parents, and all the pain they were going through. Her parents visited her often and villagers from Tob brought her gifts and kind words. Yet Asher stayed away and Tirzah understood why. The days drifted by in agony, her inevitable fate lying forever before her. Yet she knew that she was doing the right thing; God had given victory to her family and her people, and Jephthah had sworn to give back to Him.

At last the fateful day came and Tirzah had come to terms with it. The girls attended her as she bathed in sweet scented water and slipped into the beautiful dress her mother had made for her; white to symbolise her purity and virginity. Miriam put flowers in her dark hair, which hung loosely around her shoulders. She was ready and looked beautiful, yet her usually bright eyes were shadowed with sadness. As she was about to leave the hills, Tirzah told the girls to go ahead. There in the cool, quiet air, Tirzah sought help from the Lord. She beseeched Him for courage and strength. She took a deep breath, opened her eyes and was about to leave when a dark figure caught her eye.

She gasped. Asher. He came slowly towards her and silently offered her his arm. “You will need all the strength you can get.” He whispered as they walked towards town. “You look beautiful.  You don’t deserve to die. ” He said, looking down at her, evidently fighting emotion. Tirzah stopped and looked up at him. “Thank you.” She said. “I’m so sorry, Asher.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. “I love you, Tirzah.” He answered, then leaned down and kissed her. Then he took her hand and they continued to walk towards the coming doom. Tirzah saw a large crowd gathered around a  fire where her father and mother stood. Her father held a sword in his hand and wore a look of intense pain. Tonight he would have to kill his only, beloved child.

At the sight, Tirzah clung tightly on to Asher’s hand. He gave her squeeze and a final kiss, then whispered, “Be strong, beloved.” He then led her into the centre of the crowd, dropped her hand reluctantly and moved to the side. Tirzah stood in front of her father, feeling exposed as hundreds of eyes stared at her. Yet she could only stare into the eyes of her father and see the pain and hopelessness that loitered there. “I’m so sorry, my daughter.” Jephthah said. Tirzah suddenly stopped crying. She gave her mother and friends a final hug, looked into Asher sad eyes one last time and then again stood before her father who held the drawn sword in his hand.

Tirzah looked him in the eyes with a slight smile on her face, and said, “My father, you are only doing what you must. I don’t blame you at all and love you dearly.” Tirzah kneeled, moved her hair away from her neck and bowed her head. A peculiar peace flooded her and she felt God’s presence with her. Complete silence engulfed them. Then Jephthah closed his eyes, as tears streamed down his face before opening them again, lifting his sword and completing his vow with one motion, while his daughter remained strong until her final breath.

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