24 May. Judges 10:17-11:33

24 May. Jephthah defeats the Ammonites

“The Ammonites [from Amman in modern-day Jordan] gathered for war and camped in Gilead. The Israelites gathered and camped at Mizpah [in Gilead]. The leaders of the people of Gilead said, ‘Who will lead us to attack the Ammonites? He will become the head of all those [Israelites] who live in Gilead.’”

“Jephthah was a strong soldier from Gilead. His father was named Gilead, and his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife had several sons. When they grew up, they forced Jephthah to leave his home, saying to him, ‘You will not get any of our father’s property, because you are the son of another woman.’”

“So Jephthah ran away from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. There some worthless men began to follow him… When the Ammonites made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah to bring him back from Tob. They said to him, ‘Come and lead our army so we can fight the Ammonites...’”

“Then Jephthah answered, ‘If you take me back to Gilead to fight the Ammonites and the LORD helps me win, I will be your ruler.’ The elders of Gilead said to him, ‘The LORD is listening to everything we are saying. We promise to do all that you tell us to do.’”

“So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him their leader and commander of their army. Jephthah repeated all of his words in front of the LORD at Mizpah.”

“Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Ammonites, asking, ‘What have you got against Israel? Why have you come to attack our land?’ The king of the Ammonites answered the messengers of Jephthah, ‘We are fighting Israel because you took our land when you came up from Egypt. You took our land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River to the Jordan River. Now give our land back to us peacefully.’”

“Jephthah sent the messengers to the Ammonite king again. They said, ‘This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of the people of Moab or Ammon… Sihon [king of the Amorites] did not trust the Israelites to cross his land. So he gathered all of his people and camped at Jahaz and fought with Israel. But the LORD, the God of Israel, handed Sihon and his army over to Israel. All the land of the Amorites became the property of Israel…’”

“’It was the LORD, the God of Israel, who forced out the Amorites ahead of the people of Israel. So do you think you can make them leave? Take the land that your god Chemosh has given you. We will live in the land the LORD our God has given us!’…”

“But the king of the Ammonites ignored this message from Jephthah. Then the Spirit of the LORD entered Jephthah. Jephthah passed through Gilead and Manasseh and the city of Mizpah in Gilead to the land of the Ammonites.”

“Jephthah made a promise to the LORD, saying, ‘If you will hand over the Ammonites to me, I will give you as a burnt offering the first thing that comes out of my house to meet me when I return from the victory. It will be the LORD’s.’”

“Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD handed them over to him. In a great defeat, Jephthah struck them down from the city of Areor to the area of Minnith, and 20 cities as far as the city of Abel Keramim. So the Ammonites were defeated by the Israelites.”

          (Judges 10:17-11:33)

 


 

After Jair died, the Israelites once again abandoned the LORD and worshipped the Baals and the fertility god Ashtoreth. As a consequence, the Philistines and Ammonites conquered the land and ruled over Israel for eighteen years (c.1125BC - c.1108BC).

In a moment of extreme crisis, and confronted by an Ammonite army set on their destruction, the men of Gilead looked for a military leader to crush their enemy. They chose Jephthah, the son of a union between an Israelite man and a local prostitute.

Jephthah, the son of Gilead, led the Gileadite warriors against the Ammonite army who had camped in Gilead (see 10 on the map on 10 May). He marched the Israelites across Gilead and pushed the invaders back to their capital, Ammon (Amman in modern-day Jordan).

Jephthah then conquered Ammon and defeated the Ammonites in twenty towns from Areor (Arair) to Minnith and as far as Abel Keramim.

But Jephthah had made a foolish promise to the LORD when he’d asked for God’s blessing on his military campaign; and the story has a tragic ending, as we will see tomorrow.

The photo (by Ldud) shows the remains of an Ammonite watch tower at Ammon (Amman).

You can read more about Jephthah @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/jephthah-defeats-the-ammonites-/


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