trying to prevent conflict
Judges 11:1-28 (JDV)
Judges 11:1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a capable warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute, and Gilead was his father.
Judges 11:2 Gilead’s wife bore sons for him, and when they grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You will have no inheritance in our father’s family, because you are the son of another woman.”
Judges 11:3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Then some hollow men joined Jephthah and went on raids with him.
Judges 11:4 Some time later, the Ammonites fought against Israel.
Judges 11:5 When the Ammonites waged war with Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob.
Judges 11:6 They said to him, “Come, be our commander, and let’s fight the Ammonites.”
Judges 11:7 Jephthah replied to the elders of Gilead, “Didn’t you hate me and drive me out of my father’s family? So why have you come to me now when you’re in trouble?”
Judges 11:8 They answered Jephthah, “That’s true. But now we are turning to you. Come with us, fight the Ammonites, and you will become leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Judges 11:9 So Jephthah said to them, “If you are bringing me back to fight the Ammonites and Yahveh gives them to me, I will be your leader.”
Judges 11:10 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “Yahveh is our witness if we don’t do as you say.”
Judges 11:11 So Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander, and Jephthah repeated all his terms in the presence of Yahveh at Mizpah.
Judges 11:12 Jephthah sent agents to the king of the Ammonites, asking, “What do you have against me that you have come to fight me in my land?”
Judges 11:13 The king of the Ammonites said to Jephthah’s agents, “When Israel came from Egypt, they seized my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok and the Jordan. Now restore it peaceably.”
Judges 11:14 Jephthah again sent agents to the king of the Ammonites
Judges 11:15 to tell him, “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take away the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.
Judges 11:16 But when they came from Egypt, Israel traveled through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh.
Judges 11:17 Israel sent agents to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Please let us travel through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They also sent agents to the king of Moab, but he refused. So Israel stayed in Kadesh.
Judges 11:18 “Then they traveled through the wilderness and around the lands of Edom and Moab. They came to the east side of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon but did not enter into the territory of Moab, because the Arnon was the boundary of Moab.
Judges 11:19 “Then Israel sent agents to Sihon king of the Amorites, king of Heshbon. Israel said to him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our country,’
Judges 11:20 but Sihon would not trust Israel to pass through his territory. Instead, Sihon gathered all his troops, camped at Jahaz, and fought with Israel.
Judges 11:21 Then Yahveh God of Israel handed over Sihon and all his troops to Israel, and they struck them down. So Israel took possession of the entire land of the Amorites who lived in that country.
Judges 11:22 They took possession of all the territory of the Amorites from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the wilderness to the Jordan.
Judges 11:23 “Yahveh God of Israel has now driven out the Amorites before his people Israel, and will you now force us out?
Judges 11:24 Isn’t it true that you can have whatever your god Chemosh conquers for you, and we can have whatever Yahveh our God conquers for us?
Judges 11:25 Now are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel or fight against them?
Judges 11:26 While Israel lived three hundred years in Heshbon and Aroer and their surrounding villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn’t you take them back at that time?
Judges 11:27 I have not failed you, but you are doing me wrong by fighting against me. Let Yahveh who is the judge decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”
Judges 11:28 But the king of the Ammonites would not listen to Jephthah’s message that he sent him.
trying to prevent conflict
The temptation is great to ignore this part of this chapter, and only address the tragic vow made by Jepthah and its consequences. However, Jepthah’s appeal to the king of the Ammonites deserves some consideration as well. He did what he could to prevent the conflict by appealing to history, and seeking a peaceful solution to the problem. Only when the Ammonite king refused to listen to reason and insisted on war did Jepthah resort to warfare.
LORD, forgive us for so quickly resorting to violence and conflict to solve our problems.