Song lyrics with discussion questions

Mountain/When My Father Came Back

when my father came back from the war
I knew he would want to see me first
so I ran out to greet him
but he fell to his knees in the dirt

he told me daughter
I have promised God to offer
the first creature that I saw

father the vow you have made
is one you cannot escape
but first let me go with my sisters
down to the shores of the lake

I lived two months with them
my sisters in the forest
and then I returned back home

the night he took me to the mountain
neither of us spoke
we reached the peak together
just as sunrise broke

I could have run from him
I almost thought he wished it
but I could not run from God

it was the last day of my life
the sun had never shone so bright
my father held the knife
I kept my eyes open wide

then angels came to me
with faces of my sisters
and they filled my eyes with tears

Questions for discussion

  1. Unlike the original text and interpretations we have seen, this song is written from the perspective of Yiftach’s daughter herself. How does hearing “her voice” change our experience of the story?
  2. The artist struggles with the question, “Why would Yiftach’s daughter return to her father to be offered up?” How does the song answer this question? Do you agree or disagree?
  3. Optional: listen to the rock version of this song. How does the artist’s decision to tell the story with these sounds affect her interpretation of the story?

Note: While the version of this song included with the curriculum is in a quieter, folk ballad style, there is also a rock version of the song recorded by Girls in Trouble. If you think it will interest the class, you can download or stream the rock version here and have them discuss question #3.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Song lyrics with discussion questions." (Viewed on July 21, 2019) <https://jwa.org/node/23114>.

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