May 19th, 2019
Sustained by God’s Word of Faith
Judges 11:1-28: Yesterday’s reading concluded with the Israelites discussing who would lead them in fighting against their enemy, the Ammonites (Judges 10:18). Today we read that they seek out Jephthah and ask him to lead them. Jephthah attempts to negotiate with the king of Ammon, but his efforts fail.
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: JUDGES 11:27B
The LORD is the judge.
1Jephthah, a brave soldier from Gilead, was the son of a prostitute. His father Gilead2had other sons by his wife, and when they grew up, they forced Jephthah to leave home. They told him, “You will not inherit anything from our father; you are the son of another woman.”3Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. There he attracted a group of worthless men, and they went around with him.
4It was some time later that the Ammonites went to war against Israel.5When this happened, the leaders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah back from the land of Tob.6They told him, “Come and lead us, so that we can fight the Ammonites.”
7But Jephthah answered, “You hated me so much that you forced me to leave my father’s house. Why come to me now that you’re in trouble?”
8They said to Jephthah, “We are turning to you now because we want you to go with us and fight the Ammonites and lead all the people of Gilead.”
9Jephthah said to them, “If you take me back home to fight the Ammonites and the Lord gives me victory, I will be your ruler.”
10They replied, “We agree. The Lord is our witness.”11So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead, and the people made him their ruler and leader. Jephthah stated his terms at Mizpah in the presence of the Lord.
12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon to say, “What is your quarrel with us? Why have you invaded our country?”
13The king of Ammon answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon River to the Jabbok River and the Jordan River. Now you must give it back peacefully.”
14Jephthah sent messengers back to the king of Ammon15with this answer: “It is not true that Israel took away the land of Moab or the land of Ammon.16This is what happened: when the Israelites left Egypt, they went through the desert to the Gulf of Aqaba and came to Kadesh.17 Then they sent messengers to the king of Edom to ask permission to go through his land. But the king of Edom would not let them. They also asked the king of Moab, but neither would he let them go through his land. So the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.18 Then they went on through the desert, going around the land of Edom and the land of Moab until they came to the east side of Moab, on the other side of the Arnon River. They camped there, but they did not cross the Arnon because it was the boundary of Moab.19 Then the Israelites sent messengers to Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, and asked him for permission to go through his country to their own land.20But Sihon would not let Israel do it. He brought his whole army together, camped at Jahaz, and attacked Israel.21But the Lord, the God of Israel, gave the Israelites victory over Sihon and his army. So the Israelites took possession of all the territory of the Amorites who lived in that country.22They occupied all the Amorite territory from the Arnon in the south to the Jabbok in the north and from the desert on the east to the Jordan on the west.23So it was the Lord, the God of Israel, who drove out the Amorites for his people, the Israelites.24Are you going to try to take it back? You can keep whatever your god Chemosh has given you. But we are going to keep everything that the Lord, our God, has taken for us.25 Do you think you are any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? He never challenged Israel, did he? Did he ever go to war against us?26For three hundred years Israel has occupied Heshbon and Aroer, and the towns around them, and all the cities on the banks of the Arnon River. Why haven’t you taken them back in all this time?27No, I have not done you any wrong. You are doing wrong by making war on me. The Lord is the judge. He will decide today between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”28But the king of Ammon paid no attention to this message from Jephthah.
How is Jephthah described in the opening verses (1-3)? Why do the Israelite leaders want Jephthah to lead them in their fight against the Ammonites? Why does Jephthah agree to their request? What was Jephthah’s message to the king of Ammon?
Holy God, teach us the ways of peace and reconciliation. May I speak no harsh words today. Guard my lips so that my words offer encouragement to others and reflect the goodness of your love. Amen.
Those seeking to resolve disputes through diplomacy
Judges 11:29-40: Jephthah’s daughter goes out to meet her father.