Judges 11:12-17

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, December 5, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: 'What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?'
The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, 'When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.' Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, saying:
'This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites. But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh. Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.” (Judges 11:12-17)

Who’s this Jephthah guy I’m writing about today? Check out last week’s post to see where he came from and who he is.

At this point in the story, Jephthah had been made ruler of Israel’s army. The Ammonites were threatening Israel, so they needed a good commander to make them successful in the impending war. Jephthah is taking charge and first trying to get to the bottom of what the problem is with the Ammonites.

In the start of today’s passage, we see Jephthah trying to get to the bottom of the situation. He asks the Ammonite king why they’re attacking Israel. Instead of just jumping right into battle, Jephthah goes for diplomacy and trying to reason out the conflict first.

The king’s reply indicates that the Ammonites don’t want war either. They believed that Israel took their land away, so they simply want it back. There’s no need for a war, just give their land back and everybody is happy, right?

Well, it’s not quite that easy. Jephthah begins to give a history of how Israel came to occupy this land in the first place. They captured it honestly and did not violate anyone’s rights. This discussion will continue in next week’s post, and we’ll see even more reasons that Jephthah gives that Israel should keep this land.

So how does this apply to us today? Odds are you’re not in any territorial dispute like that, and if so we have much better record keeping and processes today to avoid such matters. But look at how Jephthah address this potential conflict. Remember, he was a very skilled warrior. He could have just said, “Ok Israel, let’s all gear up for battle and wipe the Ammonites off the face of the earth!” But he didn’t. Instead, he tries to spare both parties the agony and loss of war by being reasonable and discussing the matter first, to see if they can come to some kind agreement without the bloodshed.

While most disagreements in our lives don’t get to the point of bloodshed (hopefully!), this is a good principle to remember. Before you let your anger and emotions get the best of you, try to discuss the matter calmly. Listen to the other person’s perspective and try to understand where they’re coming from, and calmly share your side of the story too. Don’t just jump into an argument in anger, but first try to work with the other party. It’s always better to try and work things out through good, honest communication rather than hostile fighting.

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