The Period Of The Judges

 Chapter 53 
Defense of Israel’s Right to Trans-Jordan Territory [Judges 11.12-11.28]

 

Scripture: Judges 11.12-11.28(KJV)

12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?
13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.
14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:
15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:
16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;
17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.
18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.
19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.
20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel. 21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.
22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.
23 So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?
24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.
25 And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them, 26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?
27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.
28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

 
Introduction

In this passage (Judges 11:12-28) Jephthah negotiates with the king of the Ammonites.
a. Jephthah asks a simple question: why are you in the land of Israel? The king of Ammon gives a simple reply: because   it is really our land and Israel took it from us unjustly.

b. The line of Jephthah's argument against Ammonite possession of Israeli land:
i. The Ammonites had lost their lands in their contests with the Amorites.
ii. The Israelis conquered these lands from the Amorites, who waged a vicious war against Israeli civilians.
iii. God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, has granted these lands to the Israelis.
iv. The Israelis have possessed the land for more than 300 years.
v. These lands were never reclaimed by the Ammonites, even when they had opportunity to do so.

c. But the center of Jephthah's rebuttal is that it is the Lord who has given Israel this land; and if the king of the Ammonites thinks that his god Chemosh is strong enough to give him the possession of the land, then so be it - let's see whose God is stronger.
i. Israel has had the land for 300 years; Ammon's claim to prior ownership is invalid. God gave the land to Israel; let their god get it back!

d. Jephthah did not see this battle as primarily between two armies, but between the God of Israel and the false god of Ammon. Jephthah shows true wisdom in seeing this as a spiritual battle first.

e. Chemosh is traditionally the god of the Moabites, not the Ammonites. But they may have worshipped each other's gods, and they may also have considered Chemosh and Milcom to be the same god with different names.


12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, [3]What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?—Judges 11:12(KJV)
12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon, asking, “Why have you come out to fight against my land?”—Judges 11:12(NLT)

This first act in his judicial capacity reflects the highest credit on Jephthah’s character because it shows that he possesses discretion and moderation, justice and humanity. The bravest officers have always been reluctant to go to war; so it was with Jephthah, whose courage was indisputable; he resolved not only to make it clearly appear that hostilities were forced upon him, but to try measures for avoiding, if possible, a call to arms: and in pursuing such a course he was acting as became a leader in Israel; [1](De 20:10-18). Jephthah knew that a war with the Ammonites would cost many Israeli lives, and that was reason enough to do all he could to avoid going to war.

And Jephthah sent messengers (or ambassadors) unto the king of the children of Ammon…
Having been declared chief and sole governor of the tribes on the other side of the Jordan River, he acted in character as he sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites. They asked him why he was invading the land that belonged to Israel. Jephthah hoped that there was some way he could alter things in a way that was agreeable to both sides, and prevent the shedding of blood. In this situation, he acted as a good man should, and not at all inconsistent with how a man of valor and courage would act. In this Jephthah acted in accordance with the Law of Moses; and that's why the justice of his cause would be apparent to the people.—see [1]De 20.10-18.

saying, what hast thou to do with me;
Jephthah’s ambassadors are speaking in the name of the nation, hence, the singular is used; me, I, my land. “What has my people or I done to give you an excuse for invading my land and alarming my people.”

“If I invaded your land first and took your possessions, this would have been reason enough for fighting against me, since force must be repelled by force? But I didn’t do that, so why have you come into my land in such a hostile manner?" so he calls it, in the name both of God and Israel. Now this was definitely a fair demand, and it shows us two things:
1. That Jephthah did not delight in war, though he was a mighty man of valor, but was willing to prevent it by some peaceful adjustment. If he could persuade the invaders to withdraw through nothing more than reason he would not have to compel them to do it by the sword. War should be the last remedy, and should not be used until all other methods of settling matters have been tried and failed. This rule should also be observed before taking another to court. The sword of justice, as well as the sword of war, must not be employed until the contending parties have first endeavored by gentler means to understand one another, and to resolve those matters creating conflict, [2]1 Corinthians 6:1.
2. That Jephthah delighted in justice and fairness
, and intended to act justly no matter who was shown to be in the right in this matter. If the children of Ammon could convince him that Israel had done them wrong, he was ready to restore the rights of the Ammonites. If not, it was plain by their invasion that they did Israel wrong, and he was ready to protect the rights of the Israelites. A sense of justice should guide and govern us in all our undertakings.

As you read the verses that follow this portion of Scripture, you will find an extended section where Jephthah outlines the way that the Ammonites came into the land. He makes it clear that the land really belonged to the Israelites who gained the land in a legitimate way. The Ammonites were, of course, attempting not only to drive the Israelites off the land, but were also trying to exterminate them. The same thing is happening in the land of Israel today. Especially since 1948 when Israel once again became a nation, the enemy has been trying to remove them from the land, exterminate them, and actually drive them into the sea.

that thou art come against me to fight in my land?
He speaks in the language of a governor (as one having authority), and as a man with spirit, that is concerned for the good of his country, and determined to defend its rights and liberties.


____________________________verse 12 notes_______________________________
[1](De 20:10-18; NKJV) 10 "When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. 11 And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you, and serve you. 12 Now if the city will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the LORD your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. 14 But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies' plunder which the LORD your God gives you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.” An important principle is here introduced into the war law of Israel regarding the people they fought against and the cities they besieged. With "the cities of those people which God doth give thee" in Canaan, it was to be a war of utter extermination (De 20:17, 18). But when on a just occasion, they went against other nations, they were first to make a proclamation of peace, which if allowed by a surrender, the people would become dependent (De 20:11), and in the relation of tributaries the conquered nations would receive the highest blessings from alliance with the chosen people; they would be brought to the knowledge of Israel's God and of Israel's worship, as well as a participation of Israel's privileges. But if the besieged city refused to capitulate and be taken, a universal massacre was to be made of the males while the women and children were to be preserved and kindly treated (De 20:13, 14). By this means a provision was made for a friendly and useful connection being established between the captors and the captives; and Israel, even through her conquests, would prove a blessing to the nations.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[2](1 Corinthians 6:1; NKJV) “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” Dare any of you, etc.—From the many things that are here reprehended by the apostle, we learn that the Christian Church at Corinth was in a state of great imperfection, notwithstanding there were very many eminent characters among them. Divided as they were among themselves, there was no one person who possessed any public authority to settle differences between man and man; therefore, as one party would not submit to the decisions of another, they were obliged to carry their contentions before heathen magistrates; and probably these very subjects of litigations arose out of their ecclesiastical divisions. The thing, and this issue of it, the apostle strongly reprehends.
Before the unjust, and not before the saints?—The heathen judges were termed δικασται from their presumed righteousness in the administration of justice; here the apostle, by a paronomasia, calls them αδικοι, unrighteous persons; and it is very likely that at Corinth, where such corruption of manners reigned, there was a great perversion of public justice; and it is not to be supposed that matters relative to the Christians were fairly decided. The Christians the apostle terms ἁγιοι saints, which they were all by profession; and doubtless many were so in spirit and in truth.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[3]What hast (2 Kings 14.8-12; NKJV) “Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, the son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, "Come, let us face one another in battle." And Jehoash king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, saying, "The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, 'Give your daughter to my son as wife'; and a wild beast that was in Lebanon passed by and trampled the thistle. You have indeed defeated Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Glory in that, and stay at home; for why should you meddle with trouble so that you fall--you and Judah with you?" But Amaziah would not heed. Therefore Jehoash king of Israel went out; so he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another at Beth Shemesh, which belongs to Judah. And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his tent.”

 

13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.—Judges 11:13(KJV)
13 The king of Ammon answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they stole my land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River and all the way to the Jordan. Now then, give back the land peaceably.”—Judges 11:13(KJV)

And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah…
It doesn’t say who this King of Ammon was, however he was ready with an answer to Jephthah's messengers. He said that the reason for his invading the land, and making war against the people of Israel was, because Israel[4](Num 21:25-26; NKJV)  took away my land [5](Deut 2:19; KJV) when they came out of Egypt;

It didn’t happen as soon as they left Egypt, because they had to first wander through the wilderness for thirty-nine years, as punishment for their national sins. At that time the land was possessed by Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites; but, before they had it Canaan was in the hands of the Moabites and Ammonites, who were confederates, and subjects of the same king. So, the land Israel took was not theirs, but in the possession of Sihon and Og.

The king of Ammon made it quite clear in this reply that nothing short of Israel's giving up the disputed lands could avert the impending war. It is to Jephthah's great credit that he effectively defended Israel's right to the disputed territory. He did this with four very brilliant and truthful arguments.

The summary of Jephthah's argument is simply that Israel had not taken the land away from the Ammonites at all, but had defeated and displaced the Amorites who were originally the inhabitants of the land. It was a perfectly true and reasonable argument. However, the quarrel, as put forward by Ammonites was equally clear, if not reasonable was that the Ammonites had a right to these lands, which they occupied in the past. Jephthah's reply was clear, decisive, and unanswerable:
first, those lands were not in the possession of the Ammonites when his countrymen got them, and that they had been acquired by right of conquest from the Amorites [Jud 11:21].
secondly, the Israelites had now, by a lapse of three hundred years of undisputed possession, established a prescriptive right to the occupation [Jud 11:22, 23].
thirdly, having received a grant of these lands from the Lord, his people were entitled to maintain their right on the same principle that guided the Ammonites in receiving, from their god Chemosh, the territory they now occupied [Jud 11:24]. This diplomatic statement, so admirable for the clearness and force of its arguments, concluded with a solemn appeal to God to maintain, by the issue of events, the cause of right and justice [Jud 11:27].

from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan;
All the land which had belonged to the Amorites and Moabites (who it seems were confederates on this occasion) had these boundaries: the river [6]Arnon formed the border between Moab and the Amorites, and the river [7]Jabbok created the border  for the children of Ammon, the one was in the south of the country, and the other to the north and the Jordan was to the west, and the wilderness to the east, (Jud 11:22).

now therefore restore these lands again peaceably;
The king of the Ammonites now gives his demand, which he should have given before he had invaded Israel. His pretense is, "Israel took away my lands; now therefore restore those lands," and nothing short of this would prevent a war. We have reason to think that the Ammonites, when they made this incursion into Israel, meant to desecrate and plunder the country, as they had formerly done under Eglon [8](Judges 3:13), but at that time no such demand as this was made. When Jephthah demanded to know the cause of their hostility, they were too ashamed to admit their true intent. Hence, some old musty records were searched, or some ancient traditions were scrutinized, and from them this reason was drawn to justify the invasion. Even those that do the greatest wrong often have such false convictions of justice in their consciences that they believe they are in the right.

The king of the Ammonites replied, that when Israel came up out of Egypt, they had taken away his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok (on the north), and to the Jordan (on the west), and demanded that they should now restore these lands in peace. The claim raised by the king of the Ammonites has one feature in it, which appears to give it a certain color of justice. The Israelites, it is true, had only made war upon the two kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, and defeated them, and taken possession of their kingdoms and occupied them, without attacking the Ammonites and Moabites and Edomites, because God had forbidden their attacking these nations ([9]Deuteronomy 2:5, [5]Deuteronomy 2:19); but one portion of the territory of Sihon had formerly been Moabitish and Ammonitish property, and had been conquered by the Amorites and occupied by them. According to [4]Numbers 21:26, Sihon had made war upon the previous king of Moab, and taken away all his land as far as the Arnon. And although it is not expressly stated in the Pentateuch that Sihon had extended his conquests beyond Moab into the land of the Ammonites, which was situated to the east of Moab, and had taken a portion of it from them, this is pretty clearly indicated in [10]Joshua 13:25, since, according to that passage, the tribe of Gad received in addition to Jaezer and all the towns of Gilead, half the land of the children of Ammon, namely, the land to the east of Gilead, on the western side of the upper Jabbok (Nahr Ammn).

______________________verse 13 notes______________________
[4](Num 21:25-26; NKJV) “Then Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the people of Ammon; for the border of the people of Ammon was fortified. So Israel took all these cities, and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and in all its villages. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and had taken all his land from his hand as far as the Arnon.” for the border of . . . Ammon was strong -- a reason stated for Sihon not being able to push his invasion further. Israel dwelt in all the cities -- after exterminating the inhabitants who had been previously doomed (De 2:34).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[5]took away my land (Deut 2:19; KJV) “And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.” The Ammonites, being kindred to the Moabites, were, out of regard for the memory of their common ancestor, to remain undisturbed by the Israelites. The territory of this people had been directly north from that of Moab. It extended as far as the Jabbok, having been taken by them from a number of small Canaanitish tribes, namely, the Zamzummins, a bullying, presumptuous band of giants, as their name indicates; and the Avims, the aborigines of the district extending from Hazerim or Hazeroth (El Hudhera) even unto Azzah (Gaza), but of which they had been dispossessed by the Caphtorim (Philistines), who came out of Caphtor (Lower Egypt) and settled in the western coast of Palestine. The limits of the Ammonites were now compressed; but they still possessed the mountainous region beyond the Jabbok (Jos 11:2). What a strange insight does this parenthesis of four verses give into the early history of Palestine! How many successive wars of conquest had swept over its early state -- what changes of dynasty among the Canaanitish tribes had taken place long prior to the transactions recorded in this history! My land—That is, this land of Gilead, which was mine, but unjustly taken from me, by Sihon and Og, the kings of the Ammonites; and the injury perpetuated by Israel's detaining it from me. This land, before the conquests of Sihon and Og, belonged partly to the Ammonites, and partly to the Moabites. And indeed, Moab and Ammon did for the most part join their interests and their forces.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[6]Arnon. River and wadi in Jordan
[7]Jabbok. The Jabbok River was east of the Jordan, and marked the N. border of the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites (Num 21:23-24; Deut. 2:37; Josh 12:2) and the boundary between the trans-Jordan tribes of Israel and the Ammonites, Deut. 3:16; Josh. 12:2; Judg. 11:13, 22. After the conquests of Israel under Joshua it was given to the tribe of Gad.
[8](Judges 3:13; KJV) “And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.”
[9](Deut 2:5; NKJV) “Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.” The people of Edom were not to be injured, either in their persons or property.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[10](Josh 13:25; NKJV) “Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites as far as Aroer, which is before Rabbah,” This probably was land which had been taken from the Ammonites by Sihon, king of the Amorites, and which the Israelites possessed by right of conquest. For although the Israelites were forbidden to take the land of the Ammonites, Deuteronomy 2:37, yet this part, as having been united to the territories of Sihon, they might possess when they defeated that king and subdued his kingdom.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

 

14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:—Judges 11:13(KJV)
14 Jephthah sent this message back to the Ammonite king:--Judges 11:14 (NLT)

And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon.
Jephthah sent ambassadors a second time to explain to him the true state of the case, namely, that Israel had neither taken away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. As proof of this, Jephthah cited the leading facts connected with the journey of the Israelites through the desert of Arabia to Canaan, by which this assertion was confirmed to be in exact agreement with the accounts of the Pentateuch with regard to the matter in dispute. Jephthah wanted to give him all the satisfaction he could, and if possible to live peaceably with him, and avoid the shedding of blood on both sides.

This is a very important paragraph; a great deal of it is repetition, and much of it verbatim, of what is written in the Books of Moses, namely in [11]Num. 21:21-24. This fact establishes every word of what Jephthah stated here as absolutely accurate and is also a glorious proof of the fact that the Pentateuch existed many, many years before the Book of Judges. Nothing is any more erroneous and ridiculous than is the radical critical notion that the Pentateuch did not exist until the times of Josiah. That "fairy tale" is comparable only to those of Hans Christian Andersen.
Verses 14-22 contain ARGUMENT NO. 1: This argument was simply that Israel had not taken the disputed land away from the Ammonites; they had defeated the Amorites and had taken it away from them, not from the Ammonites, who did not originally own the land.

____________________________verse 14 notes_______________________________

[11](Num 21:21-24;NKJV) “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, "Let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into fields or vineyards; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the King's Highway until we have passed through your territory." But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and he came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. Then Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the people of Ammon; for the border of the people of Ammon was fortified.

 

15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:--Judges 11:15(KJV)
15 “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not steal any land from Moab or Ammon.— Judges 11:15

And said unto him…
Through his messengers.

thus saith Jephthah;
in a majestic style, as governor of Israel:

Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon;
Jephthah answers their demand very satisfactorily. He shows it to be, on the whole, unjust and unreasonable, and that the Ammonites had no legal right to this country that lay between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok, which were now in the possession of the tribes of Reuben and Gad. He is very well versed in the history of his country, and he showed that Israel never took any land away from either the Moabites or Ammonites. He puts them together because they were brethren, the children of Lot, and close neighbors. They had common interests, including the same god, Chemosh, and perhaps sometimes they even had the same king. Israel did not take away the lands in question from the Moabites or Ammonites (they had specific orders from God not to meddle with them or to take anything they had, [12]Deuteronomy 2:9,19, and they religiously observed their orders). But they found these lands in the possession of Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, and they took them out of their hands, and they did it justly and honorably, as he will show afterwards. If the Amorites, had taken these lands from the Moabites or Ammonites before Israel came into that country, and it seems they had [4](Numbers 21:26), Jos+13:25), then Israel did not think they should have to answer for it. If the Ammonites had lost these lands and their title to the Amorites, then the children of Israel were under no obligation to return the lands to them. Their business was to conquer for themselves, not for other people. This is his first plea, "Not guilty of the trespass."

_________________________verse 15 notes__________________________
[12](Deuteronomy 2:9, 19; KJV) “And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession…And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.” The Ammonites, being kindred to the Moabites, were, from regard to the memory of their common ancestor, to remain undisturbed by the Israelites. —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

 

16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;--Judges 11:16(KJV)
16 When the people of Israel arrived at Kadesh on their journey from Egypt after crossing the Red Sea,—Judges 11:4(NLT)

But when Israel came up from Egypt…
In order to go to the land of Canaan, which was higher than the land of Egypt, it is said that Israel came up. This small bit of information, when taken with the whole of this portion of scripture, gives the impression that Jephthah had studied the book of Moses. This is what made his arguments so clear and convincing and his demands reasonable; that the Ammonites would stop harassing his people, who had not, in any way, injured them, or intended to do so.

and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea;
When they left Egypt, they made their way through the edge of the wilderness of Etham and on to the Red Sea. There, we have the best known miracle of the Nation of Israel (1,000,000-3,000,000 strong), walking through the Red Sea on dry ground. And then according to Numbers 20.1 (NLT); “In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh.” From there, they sent messengers to the king of Edom, to obtain permission to pass through his land; but he refused [13](Numbers 20:14-21). They made the same request of the king of Moab, who sent back a similar refusal. The emissary to the king of Moab is not mentioned in the Pentateuch, since it had no direct bearing upon future events involving the Israelites.  "And Israel abode in Kadesh" (word for word, from Numbers 20:1). From there the Bible says "then passed through the desert," namely to Mount Hor, then down the Arabah to the Red Sea, and still farther past Oboth to Ijje-abarim in the desert (see Numbers 20:22-21:11). In this way they went around the land of Edom and the land of Moab—“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way” (Numbers 21:4; NKJV); and came from the east to the land of Moab (i.e., along the eastern boundary, for Ijje-abarim was situated there, according to [14]Numbers 21:11); and encamped on the other side of the Arnon [15](Numbers 21:13), i.e., on the upper course of the Arnon where it still flows through the desert. On this march, therefore, they did not enter the territory of Moab, as the Arnon formed the boundary of Moab, i.e., the boundary between Moab and the territory of the Amorites [15](Numbers 21:13).

What we have learned here is that they were so far from invading the property of any other nation, much less the devoted descendants of cursed Canaan (one of the branches of which the Amorites were, [16]Genesis 10:16) that they would not use force to pass through the country either of the Edomites, the seed of Esau, or of the Moabites, the seed of Lot; even after a very tedious march through the wilderness, which left them wretchedly tired.

Something often missed and therefore should probably be emphasized here is that they came to the Red Sea three times before they entered the Promised Land; the first time, Exodus 13:18; again, a little after their passage over it, and a third time, long after, when they came to Ezion Geber, which was upon the shore of the Red-Sea, from where they went to Kadesh; this is the time he speaks of here.

and came to Kadesh (see Article 12; below);
not Kadeshbarnea, from where the spies were sent, but Kadesh on the borders of Edom, from whence messengers were sent to the king of it, as follows.
 
Illustration 11:Map of Syria in the second millennium BC, showing the location of Kadesh (Qadesh). (not available)

Article 12: Kadesh
Kadesh (also Qadesh or Qadesh-on-the-Orontes; Hittite: Kadeš) was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River. It is surmised by Kenneth Kitchen to be the ruins at Tell Nebi Mend, about 24 kilometers (15 mi) southwest of Homs near Al Qusayr in what is now western Syria but is located in the text of the inscriptions at the Battle of Kadesh as near Tunip in the land of the Amurru. Kadesh was the target of military campaigns by most of the pharaohs of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt and one of many outlying vassals won by the southerly encroachments of the Hittite Empire between 1500 and 1285 BC. Between 1504 and 1492 BC Thutmosis I campaigned north into Syria against the Mitanni a vassal of the Hittites and along with Aram an ally of Kadesh. In 1479 BC Thutmoses III fought against the king of Kadesh in the Battle of Megiddo. In the time of Hatshepsut there were no campaigns against Kadesh as she was focused on developing trade across the Red Sea and southward. Although Amenophis II campaigned in the djadi from then on until the reign of Haremhab 1319-1307 for a century and a half Canaan was in virtual rebellion and the Egyptians could do little about it. In 1306 BC Seti I succeeded in taking the city. In 1274 BC, the fifth year of Ramesses' reign, he led a large force of chariots and infantry 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to retake the walled city. In the Battle of Kadesh, the two forces clashed in what is widely regarded as the largest chariot vs. chariot battle (5,000—6,000 between both sides) in history on the plain south of the city and west of the Orontes River.

________________________verse 16 notes___________________________
[13](Numbers 20:14-21; KJV). “And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travail that hath befallen us: How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us, and our fathers: And when we cried unto the LORD, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border: Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders. And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet.  And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.”
[14]Numbers 21:11; NLT) “Then they went on to Iye-abarim, in the wilderness on the eastern border of Moab.”
[15](Numbers 21:13; KJV) “From thence they removed, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, which is in the wilderness that cometh out of the coasts of the Amorites: for Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites.” Another river which takes its rise in the mountains of Moab, and, after having separated the ancient territories of the Moabites and Ammonites, falls into the Dead Sea, near the mouth of Jordan.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[16]Genesis 10:16; NKJV) “the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite;” Are well known as being the ancient inhabitants of Canaan, expelled by the children of Israel.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

 

17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.— Judges 11:17(KJV)
17 they sent messengers to the king of Edom asking for permission to pass through his land. But their request was denied. Then they asked the king of Moab for similar permission, but he wouldn’t let them pass through either. So the people of Israel stayed in Kadesh.—Judges 11:4(NLT)

Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom…
The history of which may be read in [13](Numbers 20:14-21),

saying, let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land;
the land of Edom, from the south to the north of it, according to Jarchi, which was the nearest and shortest way to the land of Canaan. It bears repeating, “so far were the Israelites from invading and seizing the properties of others, that they would not attempt to set their foot in another's country without permission; which they asked in an humble manner, promising to do no harm to anyone; they would pay for whatever they ate and drank during their passage:"

but the king of Edom would not hearken
or grant their request; he refused them passage through his country:

and in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab (see Article 16; below), but he would not consent;
He would not allow them to pass through his country, which lay, as Jarchi says, at the end of the land of Edom (see Article 13; below), and to the south of Canaan. This bit of history is not mentioned again, but we don’t need to doubt it, because it is clearly insinuated by Moses, [17](Deuteronomy 2:4-8, 29). It is amazing to me that rather than give the two kings any reason to be offended or annoyed, and as bone-weary as they were, they put themselves through even more fatigue and discomfort by going around both the lands of Edom and Moab, (v. 18). You may have noticed those individuals who are very inoffensive (the meek) who can use that attribute to defend against those who charge them with injustice or wrong doing. Our righteousness will answer for us in time to come (Genesis 30:33) and will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, 1 Peter 2:15.

as the children of Esau, who dwelt in Seir, and the Moabites which dwelt in Ar, did unto me;
which they interpret this way, as the children of Esau would not suffer Israel to pass through their land, when desired of them, so neither would the Moabites, when the same request was made to them:

and Israel abode[18](Num 20:1, 16) in Kadesh;
They stayed there; quietly and peaceably, and did not attempt to force their way through either country, but continued to stay in Kadesh for some time to think about where to go next, and to wait for divine direction.

Article 13: Edom
Edom or Idumea (Hebrew: {אֱדוֹם}, Modern Edom Tiberian ʼĔḏôm ; "red"; Assyrian: Udumi; Syriac: ܐܕܘܡ; Greek: Ἰδουμαία, Idoumaía; Latin: Idumæa or Idumea) was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region. The name Edom means 'red' in Hebrew - the region's reddish sandstone may have given rise to its name.— From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Illustration 14: Map Showing Kingdom Of Edom (In Red) At The Height Of Its Political And Military Influence Around 600 BC. Areas in dark red show the approximate boundary of classical-age Idumaea.
 (not available) 
 
Illustration 15: Moabite Sarcophagus In Jordan Archaeological Museum In Amman (not available)

Article 16: Moab
Moab (Hebrew: {מוֹאָב}, Modern Mo'av Tiberian Môʼāḇ ; "seed of father"; Greek Μωάβ Mōav; Arabic مؤاب, Assyrian Mu'aba, Ma'ba, Ma'ab ; Egyptian Mu'ab) is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in the Southern Levant that now lies in the modern state of Jordan. The land lay along much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over an unnamed son of King Omri of Israel. The Moabite capital was Dibon. In Biblical times, the nation was often in conflict with its Israelite neighbors to the west

______________________verse 17 notes__________________________
[17](Deuteronomy 2.4-8, 29; NKJV) “And command the people, saying, "You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. You shall buy food from them with money, that you may eat; and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink. For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing." '…"And when we passed beyond our brethren, the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir, away from the road of the plain, away from Elath and Ezion Geber, we turned and passed by way of the Wilderness of Moab.”
[18](Num 20:1, 16; NLT) “In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried… But when we cried out to the LORD, he heard us and sent an angel who brought us out of Egypt. Now we are camped at Kadesh, a town on the border of your land.” This was the first month of the fortieth year after their departure from Egypt. See Numbers 33:38, compared with verse 28 of this chapter, and Deuteronomy 1:3. The transactions of thirty-seven years Moses passes by, because he writes not as a historian but as a legislator; and gives us particularly an account of the laws, ordinances, and other occurrences of the first and last years of their peregrinations. The year now spoken of was the last of their journeyings; for from the going out of the spies, Numbers 13, unto this time, was about thirty-eight years, Deuteronomy 1:22, 23; 2:14.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
The encampment at Kadesh was on the confines of the Edomite territory, through which the Israelites would have had an easy passage across the Arabah by Wady-el-Ghuweir, so that they could have continued their course around Moab, and approached Palestine from the east [ROBERTS]. The Edomites, being the descendants of Esau and tracing their line of descent from Abraham as their common stock, were recognized by the Israelites as brethren, and a very brotherly message was sent to them.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

 


18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.— Judges 11:18(KJV)
18 “Finally, they went around Edom and Moab through the wilderness. They traveled along Moab’s eastern border and camped on the other side of the Arnon River. But they never once crossed the Arnon River into Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab.—Judges 11:4(NLT)

Then they went along the wilderness…
The term “wilderness” brings to mind a scene of desolation. I saw such a scene on one of today’s news shows. The subject was the Alkyda, and how they are becoming irrelevant in Afghanistan. The scene showed a group of Alkyda training in a wilderness; dirt only, no sign of life, no grass or trees. The “wilderness” facing Jephthah was the wilderness of Paran, which lay along the borders of Edom; according to Jarchi, they went from the west to the east along the southern border between Edom and Moab. Today, Paran is a small moshav (a type of Israeli town or settlement, in particular a type of cooperative farm...) in the Arabah valley in southern Israel. "Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. (Numbers 10:12; NIV)" Here the desert of Paran means the region of Paran, which would be either at or near Mecca.

and compassed (did not go through, but around) the land of Edom, and the land of Moab;
They passed by all the southern territory of Edom and Moab traveling all the time towards the rising of the sun, “Then they went on to Iye-abarim, in the wilderness on the eastern border of Moab.” (Num 21:11; NLT).

and pitched (set up their tents) on the other side of [6]Arnon;
the river Arnon, which, according to Jarchi, was at the east end of the land of Moab, where the country of Sihon and Og began:

but came not within the border of Moab;
They didn’t attempt to take away any part of that land from the king of Moab, although he was a cruel man that had treated him badly in the past.

for Arnon was the border of Moab;
which was the dividing line between Moab and the Amorites, [15](Numbers 21:13).

 

19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.—Judges 11:19(KJV)
19 “Then Israel sent messengers to King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled from Heshbon, asking for permission to cross through his land to get to their destination.—Judges 11:4(NLT)

And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon…
Which was his royal city, where he had his palace, and kept his court, and is therefore mentioned here because it was such an important city? King Sihon had taken it from the Moabites, and it was part of that land now in dispute; and this Sihon was not only in possession of it, when Israel sent messengers to him, but it was his royal seat, the metropolis of his kingdom, and he was fortunately called the king of it.

Sihon, according to the Old Testament, was an Amorite king, who had a particular claim to fame, because he refused to let the Israelites pass through his country. The Bible describes that incident by stating that the Israelites in their Exodus came to the country east of the Jordan, near Heshbon, King Siḥon of the Amorites refused to let them pass through his country.
Israel then sent messengers to Sihon the king of the Amorites at Heshbon, to ask permission to pass through his land. All
Israel wanted was to go "Into my place," that is, into the land of Canaan that Jehovah had given to them.

and Israel said unto him, let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land unto my place;
The land of Canaan was prepared and reserved for them when the Most High divided it among the nations for their inheritance. It was promised by the Lord to their ancestors and to them, and given unto them by the sovereign Lord of all; and all that Israel desired of Sihon was passage through his land to that land known as the Promised Land.

Judges 11:19-22 sounds very much like Numbers 21.21-35 (see Table 17)

 

Table 17: Compare Judges 11:19-22 to Numbers 21:21-25

19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.—Judges 11:19 (KJV) 21 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, 22 Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders.—Num 21:21, 22 (KJV)
20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.—Judges 20:19 (KJV) 23 And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel.—Num 21:23 (KJV)
21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. —Judges 11:21 (KJV) 24 And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong.—Num 21:24 (KJV)
22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.—Judges 11:22 (KJV) 25 And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof.—Num 21:25 (KJV)

 

 

 

20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.— Judges 11:20(KJV)
20 But King Sihon didn’t trust Israel to pass through his land. Instead, he mobilized his army at Jahaz and attacked them.—Judges 11:20(NLT)
But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through, his coast…
Trust was not something shared between Israel and this Amorite king. Sihon believed Israel’s petition to pass peacefully through his land was a cover-up for their real intention; conquest of Canaan. He was afraid that Israel would take advantage of their position if he allowed them to travel through his territory; that they would refuse to return any land they gained control of. And there was the greatest fear of all; that his people were one of the seven nations of the Canaanites, whose land they were going to possess, and whom they were to destroy at the direction of Israel’s God. Sihon knew what God said, but yet, if it came down to war, the Amorites would be the aggressor, and not the Israelites. Their humble request; "Let us pass (say they) unto our place, that is, to the land of Canaan, which is the only place we call ours, and to which we are pressing forward, not devising plans for a settlement here." They were willing to give the king any
security he wanted to guarantee their good behavior.

but Sihon gathered all his people together;
in a certain place, and armed them, and went out into the wilderness to appear against Israel in a hostile manner and to attack them; whereby it appears that he was the aggressor, and therefore Israel was not to be blamed, for defending themselves, or for seizing and possessing his country after they had conquered him. “And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel” (Num 21:23; KJV).

and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel;
There was a battle between them at Jahaz, and the victory went to Israel, see (Numbers 21:23-35).

Who knows what would have happened, if Sihon allowed Israel to travel through his territory or if he had not mustered all his forces, and fought against Israel [11](Numbers 21:23, 24), aiming at nothing less than their total ruin.

 

21 And the LORD God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.—Judges 11:4(KJV)
21 But the LORD, the God of Israel, gave his people victory over King Sihon. So Israel took control of all the land of the Amorites, who lived in that region,--Judges 11:4(NLT)

And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel…
Sihon, his people, and his country, fell into the hands of Israel through the victory the Lord gave them over him; they had a divine right to the land now in their possession.

and they smote them:
It was all-out war, and the Israelites destroyed him and all his people, as they were ordered to do; God had said for them to destroy the seven nations of Canaan, of which the Amorites were one: “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them” (Deuteronomy 7:1; KJV). Sihon was defeated, and lost all his land, from the Arnon (Mojeb) on the south to the Jabbok (Zerka) on the north, and from the desert on the east to the Jordan on the west, and the Israelites took possession of all these lands—the spoils of war.
so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country;

It was a great victory for Israel that brought them into the lawful and rightful possession of all the land that belonged to the Amorites, who were at that time the only inhabitants of it; and therefore the Ammonites could have no legal claim to it, and they didn’t make a claim for it till now.

Israel made war, but it was forced upon them by the aggression of the Amorites. Therefore, they felt justified when taking a stand against the Amorites, and they were convinced that war was necessary for their national defense. And consequently; having trounced his army, Jephthah thought he might garner further revenge against them by seizing Sihon’s country, which would now be forfeited by the Amorites for losing the battle. Thus Israel came into possession of this country; and it is very unreasonable for the Ammonites to question their title, for the Amorites were the inhabitants of that country, and it was solely their land and their coasts that the Israelites conquered and made themselves the masters of it.

Table 18: The Seven Nations of Canaan, Which God Had Said For Them to Destroy
the Hittites
-- This people were descended from Heth, the second son of Canaan (Ge 10:15), and occupied the mountainous region about Hebron, in the south of Palestine.
the Girgashites -- supposed by some to be the same as the Gergesenes (Mt 8:28), who lay to the east of Lake Gennesareth; but they are placed on the west of Jordan (Josh 24:11), and others take them for a branch of the large family of the Hivites, as they are omitted in nine out of ten places where the tribes of Canaan are enumerated; in the tenth they are mentioned, while the Hivites are not.
the Amorites -- descended from the fourth son of Canaan. They occupied, besides their conquest on the Moabite territory, extensive settlements west of the Dead Sea, in the mountains.
the Canaanites -- located in Phoenicia, particularly about Tyre and Sidon, and being sprung from the oldest branch of the family of Canaan, bore his name.
the Perizzites -- that is, villagers, a tribe who were dispersed throughout the country and lived in unwalled towns.
the Hivites -- who dwelt about Ebal and Gerizim, extending towards Hermon. They are supposed to be the same as the Avims.
the Jebusites -- resided about Jerusalem and the adjacent country.
seven nations greater and mightier than thou -- Ten were formerly mentioned (Ge 15:19-21). But in the lapse of near five hundred years, it cannot be surprising that some of them had been extinguished in the many intestine feuds that prevailed among those warlike tribes. It is more than probable that some, stationed on the east of Jordan, had fallen under the victorious arms of the Israelites.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.—Judges 11:22(KJV)
22 from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River, and from the eastern wilderness to the Jordan.—Judges 11:22(NLT)

[19]And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites…
The war was over, but the Israelites kept on going through the cities of the Amorites. This time they did it peaceably and quietly, because no one called into question, their right to own these territories and cities.
Here, the term “coasts” means boarders and all the land included within those borders.

from Arnon unto Jabbok:
which was the length of the country, from south to north; it reached from the river Arnon, the border of Moab, to the river Jabbok, the border of Ammon; so that it included no part of what was at this time in the possession of either nation.

and from the wilderness even unto Jordan;
which was the width of it, from the west to east, reaching from the wilderness of Arabia to the river Jordan.

__________________________verse 22 notes_________________________
[19]And they (Deuteronomy 2:36; NKJV) “From Aroer, which is on the bank of the River Arnon, and from the city that is in the ravine, as far as Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us; the LORD our God delivered all to us.”

23 So now the LORD God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?—Judges 11:23(KJV)
23 “So you see, it was the LORD, the God of Israel, who took away the land from the Amorites and gave it to Israel. Why, then, should we give it back to you?—Judges 11:23(NLT)

So now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel…
It is His doing, the Israelites didn’t do it; the Lord God of Israel is the one that evicted the Amorites, and put the Israelites into the possession of their land, and therefore they will enjoy it for a good long time. Jephthah shows that the Israelites did not take the land of the Moabites or Ammonites, but that of the Amorites, which they had conquered from Sihon their king, who had, without cause or provocation, attacked them; and although the Amorites had taken the lands in question from the Ammonites, yet the title by which Israel held them was good, because they took them not from the Ammonites, but conquered them from the Amorites.
• The circumstances in which the Israelites found themselves when they were attacked by the Amorites, plainly proved, that, unless Jehovah had helped them, they definitely would have been overcome. God defeated the Amorites, and made a grant of their lands to the Israelites; and the Israelites possessed them for three hundred years, after that; Judges 11:26. From these facts Jephthah drew this simple but indisputable conclusion: "Jehovah the God of Israel has rooted out the Amorites before His people Israel, and thou wilt take possession of it (that is, the land of the Amorites)." But, in order to take possession of a country, it is necessary first of all to get the holders of it into your power.

So…the Lord—God, the sovereign Lord of all lands, has given us this land; he added this, as an additional and convincing reason; otherwise, it might have been alleged to contradict the former argument, that they could have no more right to that land taken from Sihon, than Sihon himself had.

and shouldest thou possess it?
Israel, under the leadership of Jephthah and through the blessing of God on their arms has obtained by conquest what was formerly claimed by the Amorites. Now we have Jephthah expressing some sarcasm as he asks: “Did their God put it into their hands just to deliver it into yours? Did they fight to recover for thee what thou had lost, and to put thee into the possession of it? Didn’t they fight in their own defense, and their enemies and their land fell into their hands, and by the laws and right of nations became theirs? And canst thou expect to possess it? what reason is there for it?"

ARGUMENT NO. 2 is here within verses 23 and 24. This argument was simply that since the God of Israel, the true God and ruler of all lands, had given the land in question to Israel, the Israelites therefore had every right to keep it

The argument "ad hominem" (an informal logical fallacy) is that since the Ammonites do not hesitate to take whatever they claim was given to them by their god Chemosh, they should also allow that whatever Jehovah, the God of Israel, has given Israel should belong to them. Here in Judges 11.23-24, Jephthah claims it was not Israel (they were fatigued with their long march, and were not fit for action so soon), but it was the Lord God of Israel, who is King of nations, who owns the earth and the fullness thereof; he it was that dispossessed the Amorites and planted Israel in their place. God gave them the land by an explicit and precise means, that vested the title in them, in a way that would stand up against the entire world. Deuteronomy 2:24 states, "I have given into thy hand Sihon and his land; he gave it to them, by giving them a complete victory over the present occupants of the land in question, in spite of the great disadvantages they were under. "Can you think that God gave it to us in such an extraordinary manner with a plan that we should return it to the Moabites or Ammonites again? No, we put a higher value upon God's favors than to part with them so easily." To corroborate this plea, he urges an argument ad hominem--directed to the man (Sihon): Will you not accept and keep that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee? Jephthah not only appeals to the common perseverance of men to hold their own against the entire world, but to the common religion of the nations, which, they thought, obliged to treat that which their gods gave them. Not that Jephthah thought Chemosh (see Article 11.6, below) was a god, Jehovah only is thy god; those that worshipped those dunghill deities that could do neither good nor evil yet thought they were beholden to them for all they had [20](Hosea 2:12), [21](Judges 16:24) and they made this a reason for why they would consider anything that their gods gave them to be very special. The Ammonites had dispossessed those that dwelt in their land before them; they thought they did it with help from Chemosh their god, but really it was Jehovah the God of Israel that did it for them, as is expressly said, [12]Deuteronomy 2:19,20. "Now," says Jephthah, "we have as good a title to our country as you have to yours." Note, One instance of the honor and respect we owe to God, as our God, is to possess rightly that which he gives us to possess, receive it from him, use it for him, keep it for his sake, and part with it when he calls for it. He has given it to us to possess, not to enjoy. Only He himself must be enjoyed.


Article 11.6: Chemosh
Chemosh (pronounced /ˈkiːmɒʃ/; from Hebrew: כְּמוֹשׁ‎ [keˈmoʃ]), was the national deity of the Moabites (Num. 21:29; Jer. 48:7, 13, 46), whose name most likely meant "destroyer," "subduer," or "fish god." While he is most readily associated with the Moabites, according to Judges 11:24 he seems to have been the national deity of the Ammonites as well. His presence in the Old Testament world was well known, as his cult was imported to Jerusalem by King Solomon (1 Kings 11:7). The Hebrew scorn for his worship was evident in a curse from the scriptures: "the abomination of Moab." King Josiah destroyed the Israelite branch of the cult (2 Kings 23). On the Moabite stone, Mesha (2 Kings 3:5) ascribed his victories over the king of Israel to this god, "And Chemosh drove him before my sight."


_______________________________verse 23 notes________________________
[20](Hosea 2:12; NKJV) “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, Of which she has said, 'These are my wages that my lovers have given me.' So I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field shall eat them.” These are my rewards—They attributed all the blessings of Providence as rewards received from the idols which they worshipped.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[21](Judges 16:24; NKJV) “When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, The destroyer of our land, And the one who multiplied our dead." It was a common practice in heathen nations, on the return of their solemn religious festivals, to bring forth their war prisoners from their places of confinement or slavery; and, in heaping on them every species of indignity, they would offer their grateful tribute to the gods by whose aid they had triumphed over their enemies.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

 

 

24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.—Judges 11:24(KJV)
24 You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the LORD our God gives us.—Judges 11:24(NLT)

Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess?
Chemosh (see Article 11.6, above) was the idol of the Moabites; see [22](Numbers 21:29), which has led some to think, that the present king of Ammon was also king of Moab, and he insisted on that part of the country, which formerly belonged to Moab, to be delivered to him, as well as that which had belonged to Ammon. Now since the land, which they now inhabited, as well as what they had lost, they had taken away from others [23](Deuteronomy 2:10,11,20,21), having conquered them, they credited their victories to the help and assistance they had from their idol, and possessed the lands as his gift. Jephthah argues with them "ad hominem", from the less to the greater. Jephthah’s argument proved still further how unwarrantable the claim of the king of the Ammonites was, and he said to him, "Is it not a fact, that what thy god Chemosh gives thee for a possession, of that thou takest possession; and all that Jehovah makes ownerless before us, of that we take possession?"—here is an appeal, the validity of which could not be disputed: "It is a maxim with you, as it is among all nations, that the lands which they conceive to be given them by their gods, they have an absolute right to, and should not relinquish them to any kind of claimant. You suppose that the land which you possess was given you by your god Chemosh and therefore you will not relinquish what you believe you hold by a Divine right.” This is by no stretch of imagination a recognition by Jephthah of any reality whatever regarding Chemosh. It was only an argument from the standpoint of what the Ammonites believed. Strahan commented that, "The truth of monotheism had not yet dawned on even the greatest minds of Israel." "Of course, Jephthah here is not acknowledging the reality of the false god Chemosh." Jephthah's familiarity with the Book of Numbers certainly indicates that he was familiar with the rest of the Pentateuch and the strict monotheism that pervades every line of the Book of Moses.

Wilt not thou - He speaks according to their absurd opinion: the Ammonites and Moabites got their land by conquest of the old inhabitants, whom they cast out; and this success, though given them by the true God, for Lot's sake, [24]Deuteronomy 2:9,19, they impiously ascribe to their god Chemosh, whose gift they owned to be a sufficient title.

"Now, we know that Jehovah, our God, who is the Lord of heaven and earth, has given the Israelites the land of the Amorites; and therefore we will not give it up." The ground of Jephthah's contention was sound and good.
1. The Ammonites had lost their lands in their contests with the Amorites.
2. The Israelites conquered these lands from the Amorites, who had waged a most unprincipled war against them.
3. God, who is the Maker of heaven and earth had given those very lands as a Divine grant to the Israelites.
4. In consequence of this they had possession of them for upwards of three hundred years.
5. These lands were never reclaimed by the Ammonites, though they had repeated opportunities for doing it, while the Israelites dwelt in Heshbon, in Aroer, and in the coasts of Arnon; but they did not reclaim them because they knew that the Israelites held them legally. The present pretensions of Ammon were unsupported and unjustifiable.

so whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess;
These words could be stated thus: “We definitely have as good a claim to what the Lord our God gives to us through the conquest of pagan nations, as you have, or can think you have, to what your idol, as you suppose, has given you: however, what we have got, or get this way, we are determined to possess, and keep possession of it.” Jephthah’s speech was true, but he must have had some concern that the Israelites would think that their victories were a reward from God for being such a good people. The real reason is found in [25] Deuteronomy 9.4, 5: there it says; “The Canaanites were a hopelessly corrupt race, and deserved extermination; but history relates many remarkable instances in which God punished corrupt and guilty nations by the actions and use of other people as bad as themselves. It was not for the sake of the Israelites, but for His own sake, for the promise made to their pious ancestors, and in furtherance of high and comprehensive purposes of good to the world, that God was about to give them a grant of Canaan.”


Table 19: Religions of the Ancient Near East

Levantine deities
Adonis/Gauas •Anat •Asherah •Ashima • Athtart/Astarte •Atargatis •Baʿal •Berith •Chemosh •Dagon •Derceto •El •Elyon •Eshmun •Hadad •Kothar-wa-Khasis •Melqart •Moloch •Mot •Qetesh •Resheph •Shahar •Shalim •Shapash •Yahweh •Yam •Yarikh

Mesopotamian deities
Abzu/Apsu •Adad •Amurru •An/Anu •Anshar •Ashur •Enki/Ea •Enlil •Ereshkigal •Inanna/Ishtar •Kingu •Kishar •Lahmu & Lahamu •Marduk •Mummu •Nabu •Nammu •Nanna/Sin •Nergal •Ningizzida •Ninhursag •Ninlil •Tiamat •Utu/Shamash

Egyptian deities
Amun •Ra •Apis •Bakha •Isis •Horus •Osiris •Ptah

Greek deities
Ares •Aphrodite •Apollo •Athena •Artemis •Hades •Hera •Hermes •Hephaestus •Demeter •Poseidon •Zeus


______________________________verse 24 notes_________________________________
[22](Numbers 21:29; KJV) “Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites.” people of Chemosh -- the name of the Moabite idol (1Ki 11:7-33 2Ki 23:13 Jer 48:46). he -- that is, their god, hath surrendered his worshippers to the victorious arms of Sihon.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[23](Deuteronomy 2:10,11,20,21; NLT) “A race of giants called the Emites had once lived in the area of Ar. They were as strong and numerous and tall as the Anakites, another race of giants. Both the Emites and the Anakites are also known as the Rephaites, though the Moabites call them Emites… (That area was once considered the land of the Rephaites, who had lived there, though the Ammonites call them Zamzummites. They were also as strong and numerous and tall as the Anakites. But the LORD destroyed them so the Ammonites could occupy their land.”
[24](Deuteronomy 2:9, 19; NLT) “the LORD warned us, ‘Do not bother the Moabites, the descendants of Lot, or start a war with them. I have given them Ar as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”… and enter the land of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. But do not bother them or start a war with them. I have given the land of Ammon to them as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”
[25](Deut 9:4-5; NKJV) “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses takes special care to guard his countrymen against the vanity of supposing that their own merits had procured them the distinguished privilege. The Canaanites were a hopelessly corrupt race, and deserved extermination; but history relates many remarkable instances in which God punished corrupt and guilty nations by the instrumentality of other people as bad as themselves. It was not for the sake of the Israelites, but for His own sake, for the promise made to their pious ancestors, and in furtherance of high and comprehensive purposes of good to the world, that God was about to give them a grant of Canaan.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary


25 And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,--Judges 11:25(KJV)
25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he try to make a case against Israel for disputed land? Did he go to war against them?—Judges 11:25(NLT)

And now art thou anything better than Balak (see Article 11.7, below) the son of Zippor king of Moab?
This argument seems to strengthen the conjecture, that this king was the king of Moab at this time, and so Balak was one of his predecessors. Now he is asked, whether he thought he was a wiser prince than Balak; or whether he had a better claim to the land in dispute than Balak had; or whether he believed he was more able to regain what belonged to him. Jephthah points out that their title to the land had not been disputed when they first entered it. "Balak who was then king of Moab, from whom the greatest part of these lands had been taken by the Amorites, and who was most concerned and best able to oppose us, if he had had any objections against our settlement there, yet he sat still, and never offered to strive against Israel." He knew that he had lost it fairly to the Amorites and he was not strong enough to get it back. All he could do now was to acknowledge that Israel had won it fairly from the Amorites, and therefore all his efforts was focused on making secure what was left: he never pretended to have a title to what was lost. See [26]Numbers 22:2, 3.

Than Balak - Art thou wiser than he? Or hast thou more right than he had? Balak, though he plotted against Israel, in defense of his own land, which he feared they would invade and conquer, yet never contended with them about the restitution of those lands which Sihon took from him or his predecessors.

Article 11.7:Balak
Balak: name means empty; spoiler. A son of Zippor, and king of the Moabites (Numbers 22:2, 4). From fear of the Israelites, who were encamped near the confines of his territory, he solicited Balaam to curse them; but in vain; “Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you” (Joshua 24:9; NLT).  “Don’t you remember, my people, how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?” (Micah 6:5; NLT).
The comparison of Numbers 22:4 with Numbers 21:26 suggests that Balak was not the hereditary king but a Midianite, and that a change of dynasty had taken place. His father's name, Zippor, "Bird," reminds us of the names of other Midianites, such as, Oreb, "Crow;" Zeeb, "Wolf." Possibly the Midianite chieftains had taken advantage of the weakness of the Moabites after the Amorite victories to establish themselves as princes in the land.—Easton's Bible Dictionary

did he ever strive against Israel?
He asks the question “‘Did he ever strive against Israel,’ for the land they took away from Sihon which was formerly in the possession of the Moabites, did he ever lay any claim to it, or enter into any dispute, or litigate with Israel about it?” Not at all!

or did he ever fight against them?
That is, fight to get their land back. No, instead of fighting he sent for Balaam to curse Israel, and he sought to defend and secure the land in his own country that he was still in possession of, which he thought was in danger because the Israelites were so close by; but he never made war with them under any such pretence, that they had done him any injury by inheriting the land they had taken from Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites.

This was a political argument founded upon the fact that Moab had once claimed some of the disputed territory, but had lost it when Sihon, the king of the Ammonites had forcefully displaced Moab and occupied the land they once had. Jephthah here points out that after Israel defeated and dispossessed Sihon and occupied that strip between the Arnon and the Jabbok, that not even Moab, who once owned it, ever disputed Israel's right to possess it. That being true, who was the king of Ammon that he should lay any claim against the disputed territory?

But not contenting himself with this conclusive deduction, Jephthah endeavored to remove any appearance of right from the king's claim by a third and equally conclusive argument. "And now art thou better than Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab? Did he strive with Israel, or did he fight against them?" The new argument can be supported from the facts already described. Balak, the king of the Moabites, had indeed bribed Balaam to destroy Israel by his curses; but he did it not so much with the intention of depriving them of the territory of the Amorites which they had conquered, as from the fear that the powerful Israelites might also conquer his still remaining kingdom. Balak had neither made war upon Israel on account of the territory which they had conquered from the Amorites, nor had he put forward any claim to it as his own property, which he certainly might have done with some appearance of justice, as a large portion of it had formerly belonged to the Moabites (see [27]Numbers 21:26). If therefore Balak the king of the Moabites never thought of looking upon this land as being still his property, or of asking it back from the Israelites, the king of the Ammonites had no right whatever to lay claim to the land of Gilead as belonging to him, or to take it away from the Israelites by force, especially after the lapse of 300 years.

Verses 25 contains ARGUMENT NO. 3: This argument was simply that after Israel defeated and dispossessed Sihon and occupied that strip between the Arnon and the Jabbok, that not even Moab, who once owned it, ever disputed Israel's right to possess it. That being true, who was the king of Ammon that he should lay any claim against the disputed territory?

________________________verse 25 notes_________________________
[26](Numbers 22:2, 3; NLT) “Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified.” Balak -- that is, "empty." Terrified (De 2:25 Ex 15:15) at the approach of so vast a multitude and not daring to encounter them in the field, he resolved to secure their destruction by other means.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[27](Numbers 21:26; KJV) “For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even unto Arnon.” For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, etc.—It appears therefore that the territory now taken from Sihon by the Israelites was taken from a former king of Moab, in commemoration of which an epikedion or war song was made, several verses of which, in their ancient poetic form, are quoted by Moses in the following verses.—Adam Clarke's Commentary

 


26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time? —Judges 11:26(KJV)
26 “Israel has been living here for 300 years, inhabiting Heshbon (see Article 11.8: below) and its surrounding settlements, all the way to Aroer and its settlements, and in all the towns along the Arnon River. Why have you made no effort to recover it before now?—Judges 11:26(NLT)

While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns…
This was the principal city, which formerly belonged to the Moabites, and was taken from them by Sihon; who was afterward conquered by Israel; it fell into their hands, and they inhabited it, and the towns adjacent to it, from that time to the present (the time when this book was written). For info on Heshbon see: [28]Numbers 21:25-30; [29]Deuteronomy 2:24; [30]Du. 3:2,6; [31]Joshua 12:2,5; [32]Jos13:10.

Article 11.8: Heshbon
Heshbon: The capital of Sihon, king of the Amorites, formerly in the land of Moab (Num 21:26). Heshbon was among the cities of Sihon, for which the Reubenites and the Gadites asked Moses (Num 32:3). It was given to Reuben (Num 32:37). One of the cities of the Levites in the territory of Gad (Josh 21:39), it was presumably taken by Mesha, king of Moab. Isaiah (15:4; 16:8-9) and Jeremiah (48:2, 34, 45, etc.) prophesied its destruction. Sometime after the beginning of the Hasmonean revolt, in 129 B.C., the town was conquered by Simon Maccabee. It was part of the Hasmonean kingdom in the time of Alexander Jannaeus, but was returned to the Nabateans by Hyrcanus II. It was conquered again by Herod the Great, who founded a military colony there which he named Esbous. Identified with Tel Hisban, 8 miles (13 km) north of Medaba. Excavations on this site revealed strata from the Iron Age to the Muslim periods.—Bible Dictionary and Concordance


and in Aroer and her towns;
another city with its villages, taken at the same time as Heshbon, and ever since inhabited by the Israelites; by the tribe of Gad, who rebuilt it; it was near the river Arnon; see [33](Numbers 32:34); [34](Deuteronomy 3:12); [19]Deuteronomy 2:36.

Article 11.9: Aroer
Aroer

1. A town on the bank of the Arnon, on the border of the Amorite kingdom (Deut 4:48; Josh 12:2). It was conquered by the Reubenites and formed part of their territory (Josh 13:16), but was fortified by the Gadites (Num 32:34). Aroer was the starting point of David's census (II Sam 24:5), It was conquered by Hazael, king of Aram (II Kgs 10:32-33) but by the time of Jeremiah was once more a Moabite town (Jer 48:19). It has been identified with Ara'ir on the River Mujib (Arnon), where remains of Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and of a Nabatean settlement, have been found.
2. A town in Gilead on the border of the territory of Gad located near Rabbah of the Ammonites (Josh 13:25). This is possibly the city mentioned in the description of Jephthah's conquest of the Ammonites "from Aroer as far as Minnith" (Judg 11:33).
3. One of the 29 towns assigned to the tribe of Judah (called Adadah in Josh 15:22). After David's victory over the Amalekite raiders, it received a share of the spoil recovered (I Sam 30:26, 28).
The site has been identified with modern Ar'arah, about 12 miles (19 km) south of Beersheba, which, when excavated, revealed the remains of a Judean fortress dating to the 7th century B.C., as well as later settlements – Persian, Hellenistic and Roman.—Bible Dictionary and Concordance:


and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon; three hundred years?
The river Arnon divided Moab from the kingdom of the Amorites. Israel had lived in the cities built alongside this river for three hundred years, having built some and taken others by war. During all this time, three hundred years, neither Balak king of Moab, nor any of his successors, had ever disputed Israel's title to those cities, or started a war with them to get the cities back. Rather, they continued to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors for three hundred years; which was thus calculate by the Jewish system of reckoning; Joshua governed Israel twenty eight years, Othniel forty, Ehud eighty, Deborah forty, Gideon forty, Abimelech three, Tola twenty three, Jair twenty two, and for eighteen years Israel was oppressed by the children of Ammon, which with the six years of Jephthah make just three hundred; so that, according to this computation, they were six years short of it; but since it was so near, the rounded number is given: 300 years.

why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?
Jephthah makes it clear that they should have put in their claim sooner, and attempted to recover the territory they lost, long before this time, if they had any right to it; wherefore Jephthah asserts that custom and precedent must apply, and which in a course of time ought to take place; or otherwise the world would be full of endless arguments and controversies, and kingdoms and states would never be at peace, and no one could know for certain where its borders lie.
Here we have ARGUMENT NO. 4: This was what might be called an argument based upon what men call today "the statute of limitations." Israel had been in possession of Gilead ever since the days of Moses, and, "It was too late for Ammon to press her claim, since Israel had enjoyed such a long period of undisputed occupation of that territory." A title so long unquestioned shall be presumed unquestionable. If the Ammonites had had any right to this territory, they ought to have asserted their claim in Moses' time. It was much too late now, after the expiration of 300 years. For "if no rights are implied on account of length of time, and if long possession gives no title, nothing would ever be securely held by any people, and there would be no end to wars and dissension". This is one of the most significant statements found in the entire Book of Judges.
"Jephthah argued here that the `statute of limitations' had expired since Israel had by then held this territory for three hundred years ... Since Jephthah's judgeship began about 1100 B.C., adding the 300 years mentioned here dates the conquest at approximately 1400 B.C. The exodus took place forty years earlier in 1440 B.C., the so-called `early date' held by most evangelical scholars." These dates synchronize exactly with the dates of the Exodus and of the Conquest which we assigned to those events in our Commentaries on the Pentateuch.

___________________________verse 26 notes_______________________________
[28](Num 21:25-30; NLT) “So Israel captured all the towns of the Amorites and settled in them, including the city of Heshbon and its surrounding villages. Heshbon had been the capital of King Sihon of the Amorites. He had defeated a former Moabite king and seized all his land as far as the Arnon River. Therefore, the ancient poets wrote this about him: “Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt! Let the city of Sihon be restored. A fire flamed forth from Heshbon, a blaze from the city of Sihon. It burned the city of Ar in Moab; it destroyed the rulers of the Arnon heights. What sorrow awaits you, O people of Moab! You are finished, O worshipers of Chemosh! Chemosh has left his sons as refugees, his daughters as captives of Sihon, the Amorite king. We have utterly destroyed them, from Heshbon to Dibon. We have completely wiped them out as far away as Nophah and Medeba.”
[29](Deuteronomy 2:24; NLT) “Moses continued, “Then the LORD said, ‘Now get moving! Cross the Arnon Gorge. Look, I will hand over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and I will give you his land. Attack him and begin to occupy the land”
[30](Deut 3:2, 6; NLT) “But the LORD told me, ‘Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his entire army, and I will give you all his land. Treat him just as you treated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon…We completely destroyed the kingdom of Bashan, just as we had destroyed King Sihon of Heshbon. We destroyed all the people in every town we conquered—men, women, and children alike.”
[31](Joshua 12.2, 5; NLT) “King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, was defeated. His kingdom included Aroer, on the edge of the Arnon Gorge, and extended from the middle of the Arnon Gorge to the Jabbok River, which serves as a border for the Ammonites. This territory included the southern half of the territory of Gilead…He ruled a territory stretching from Mount Hermon to Salecah in the north and to all of Bashan in the east, and westward to the borders of the kingdoms of Geshur and Maacah. This territory included the northern half of Gilead, as far as the boundary of King Sihon of Heshbon.”
[32](Josh 13:10; NLT) “It also included all the towns of King Sihon of the Amorites, who had reigned in Heshbon, and extended as far as the borders of Ammon.”
[33](Numbers 32:34; NLT) “The descendants of Gad built the towns of Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer”
[34](Deuteronomy 3:12; NLT) “When we took possession of this land, I gave to the tribes of Reuben and Gad the territory beyond Aroer along the Arnon Gorge, plus half of the hill country of Gilead with its towns.”


27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.—Judges 11:27(KJV)
27 Therefore, I have not sinned against you. Rather, you have wronged me by attacking me. Let the LORD, who is judge, decide today which of us is right—Israel or Ammon.”—Judges 11:27(NLT)

Wherefore I have not sinned against thee…
Jephthah is correct when he says, “I have not injured you or wronged you in any way, and I have not taken any of your property from you”; Jephthah said this in the name of all Israel, of whom he was governor. By these arguments Jephthah justifies himself and his own cause ("I have not sinned against thee in taking or keeping what I have no right to; if I had, I would instantly make restitution”), but with the next words out of his mouth he condemns the Ammonites: "Thou doest me wrong to war against me”. It seems to me that here we have evidence that the children of Israel, when they enjoyed prosperity and power (for there were such days during the times of the judges) had conducted themselves very inoffensively to all their neighbors and had not been burdensome or oppressing to them (either by way of reprisal or for the purpose of propagating their religion), that the king of the Ammonites, when he would seek an occasion for quarrelling with them, was forced to look 300 years back for an alleged reason to go to war against Israel. Likewise, it becomes the people of God to be blameless and harmless, and without any cause for condemnation.

but thou doest me wrong to war against me;
meaning that he had no just cause to instigate a war against Israel, and yet he acted the part of an injured party; and seeing that things could not be adjusted in an amicable way (in a way that was agreeable to both parties), but must be decided by the sword, he leaves the affair with the Lord, and appeals to him.

the Lord the Judge;
the Judge of the whole earth, the omniscient God, that knows all things, the right and wrong of every cause, on which side truth and justice lie. “The LORD demands accurate scales and balances; he sets the standards for fairness” (Prov 16:11; NLT).

[35]be Judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon;
It is not that Jephthah expected that a decision on the controversy between them would be made that same day; but that henceforth the Lord would express His judgment, by giving success to that party which was in the right in this contest.

When life brings us into a contest with others, we should pray: “If you are right, and we are wrong, then the Lord Jesus, who is the sovereign and incorruptible Judge, shall decide in your favor; and to Him I submit the righteousness of my cause.”

This concluded Jephthah's efforts to avoid the war by diplomatic activity. Jephthah had said all that could be said, to prove that the Israelites were the rightful possessors of the land of Gilead. (Note: "Jephthah urged everything that could be pleaded in support of their historical right: possession, length of time, the right of conquest, and undisputed occupation." - Rosenmller.)

The king of the children of Ammon could not answer the arguments of Jephthah and therefore made no reply whatever to Jephthah's arguments. Therefore, the war would be fought, and Jephthah's first action was to appeal to Jehovah, the Judge, as both sides of the dispute had to resort to arbitration by the edge of the sword. God would decide between the two nations, by giving the victory in war to the side whose cause was the just one.

_____________________________verse 27 notes__________________________
[35]be Judge—Let him determine this controversy by the success of this day and war.

 


28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.—Judges 11:28 (KJV)
28 But the king of Ammon paid no attention to Jephthah’s message.—Judges 11:28 (NLT)

Howbeit, the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.
He ignored the arguments Jephthah expressed, and he did not appear to be convinced by any of them, but I am shocked that he didn’t seem to regard the awful appeal Jephthah had made to the great Jehovah. After all, they had seen the awesome power of Israel’s God. This verse is the statement of the unaltered position of the king of the Ammonites who was determined to take Israel's territory by force of arms. War was now inevitable; preparations were made for a determined resistance.

Neither Jephthah's apology, nor his appeal, made an impression on the king of the children of Ammon; they had found the sweets of the spoil of Israel, during the eighteen years which they had oppressed them [36](Judges 10:8), and now they hoped to make themselves masters over Israel and to enrich themselves with the fruit which they had so often enriched themselves during the eighteen years they had oppressed the children of God who lived on the east side of the Jordan River. He hearkened not to the words of Jephthah, his heart being hardened (I believe it was God who hardened his heart, as He had done it to Pharaoh.) to his destruction.

____________________________verse 28 notes____________________________
[36](Judges 10:7, 8; NLT) “So the LORD burned with anger against Israel, and he turned them over to the Philistines and the Ammonites, who began to oppress them that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites east of the Jordan River in the land of the Amorites (that is, in Gilead).”

 

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