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Judges 11:21-24

Context
11:21 The Lord God of Israel handed Sihon and his whole army over to Israel and they defeated them. Israel took 1  all the land of the Amorites who lived in that land. 11:22 They took all the Amorite territory from the Arnon River on the south to the Jabbok River on the north, from the desert in the east to the Jordan in the west. 2  11:23 Since 3  the Lord God of Israel has driven out 4  the Amorites before his people Israel, do you think you can just take it from them? 5  11:24 You have the right to take what Chemosh your god gives you, but we will take the land of all whom the Lord our God has driven out before us. 6 

1 tn That is, took as its own possession.

2 tn Heb “from the Arnon to the Jabbok, and from the desert to the Jordan.” The word “River” has been supplied in the translation with “Arnon” and “Jabbok,” because these are less familiar to modern readers than the Jordan.

3 tn Heb “Now.”

4 tn Or “dispossessed.”

5 tn Heb “will you dispossess him [i.e., Israel; or possibly “it,” i.e., the territory]?” There is no interrogative marker in the Hebrew text.

6 tn Heb “Is it not so that what Chemosh your god causes you to possess, you possess, and all whom the Lord our God dispossesses before us we will possess?” Jephthah speaks of Chemosh as if he is on a par with the Lord God of Israel. This does not necessarily mean that Jephthah is polytheistic or that he recognizes the Lord as only a local deity. He may simply be assuming the Ammonite king’s perspective for the sake of argument. Other texts, as well as the extrabiblical Mesha inscription, associate Chemosh with Moab, while Milcom is identified as the god of the Ammonites. Why then does Jephthah refer to Chemosh as the Ammonite god? Ammon had likely conquered Moab and the Ammonite king probably regarded himself as heir of all territory formerly held by Moab. Originally Moab had owned the disputed territory (cf. Num 21:26-29), meaning that Chemosh was regarded as the god of the region (see R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 203-4). Jephthah argues that Chemosh had long ago relinquished claim to the area (by allowing Sihon to conquer it), while the Lord had long ago established jurisdiction over it (by taking it from Sihon and giving it to Israel). Both sides should abide by the decisions of the gods which had stood firm for three hundred years.



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