So, I didn’t realize until today, that only two of the five star points have been discussed! I’ve obviously been slacking a bit. If you’ve missed out on the others, you can find their stories here:
- Adah- the daughter (this one)
- Ruth – the widow
- Esther – the wife
- Martha – the sister
- Electa – the mother
The story of Adah is a little bit like that of Electa; there was an unnamed woman in the Bible, whom Rob Morris, the creator of the Order of the Eastern Star, simply gave a name to, and made a star point. Adah has a bit more story behind her than that of Electa however. Adah is the name given to the daughter of a man called Jephthah, who is talked about in the Old Testament book of Judges (more specifically, Judges chapters 11 & 12, you can read the original here). Jephthah had a bit of a shaded past, his mother was a prostitute, and his father could have been any number of men. Because of this, he was driven out of his hometown, and basically became an outlaw, all because of his heritage.
The lady Adah. Or, at the very least, Jephthah’s daughter.
He became known as a bit of a fighter in the area. There were a number of skirmishes and wars going about at this time, and soon enough, Jephthah and his people found themselves being attacked by a people known as the Ammonities. Everyone in the area asked Jephthah to lead them into battle, and he agreed. He also agreed, that if he was victorious in this fight, he was willing to lead the people from there on out. Just before battle our friend Jephthah made a bit of a boo-boo. He made a bargain with G-d, that if he was victorious in the battle, he would sacrifice whatever was the first thing to come out of his house when he returned.
You see where this is going, right?
Jephthah is victorious, and everyone is quite happy with the result. The celebration is short lived however, because the first thing that comes out of his house upon his return, is his daughter, called Adah (in OES). Jephthah really doesn’t want to go through with this sacrifice anymore, but after explaining the situation to his daughter, she agrees that the vow must not be broken. It is said that she asked for it to be delayed by two months, so that she could spend some time with the other women of the village, and “mourn her virginity”. After that time, Jephthah did as he vowed.
Part of me really wonders if anyone read the stories of the women that were picked to be the star points. As you can imagine, this story carries a lot of controversy with it. The story is incredibly similar to that of Isaac, except in Adah’s case, her father actually goes through with her murder. Some versions say that she simply was banished to the mountains, or that she was to remain a virgin forever, but the majority of the versions agree that the sacrifice was made.
So, what does that mean for people in OES? What does this story of sacrifice teach us?
As far as the story given during an initiation, Adah teaches us fidelity, loyalty, and intelligence. The first two I can heartily agree with. I am not so certain that if my father told me he had vowed something similar, that I would have gone through with it. Another big thing Adah focuses on is innocence. Adah was a virgin, yes, but she was also probably a fairly young girl as well, since she was not yet wed. Both Adah and Jephthah were willing to fulfill their obligations, even if doing so meant death for one, and a great loss for the other. I think that this is the biggest lesson in this story.
So often we say we are going to do something, and don’t. Its so easy to sign up to help out at an event, and instead of going, stay home and watch TV. I think that those of us in the Masonic communities are at risk for this kind of behavior, not because we are bad people, but because there tends to be so many things to sign up for, so many events that need help, committees that need chairs, and parts that need to be done. It can be easy to get bogged down. Never forget that its okay to say no. No one will fault you for it, many older Masons are aware that burnout can happen very quickly. Simply do what you can, and when it is time to fill your obligation, don’t drag your feet, go willingly, like Adah and Jephthah, even if it does feel like its going to end in your death.
I will leave you with this short poem I found about Adah. There are a number of them out there about each star point. Perhaps at one point I will collect them all together.
Our Star life’s not always easy,
We do need rare courage now,
Like that of young, heroic Adah,
Keeping her father’s awful vow.
We obey, as she has taught us,
Sometimes cry o’er life’s ills;
But steadfast we turn our faces
Far from Adah’s lonely hills.
This world has obedient daughters,
Carrying out a hard command;
We must seek them — weary, troubled,
Their quiet trust and true obedience
Are examples naught can mar.
Bring a candle of rare courage
To the first point of our Star.
As always, have a wonderful week.