Judges 11:12-28

Jephthah's message to the Ammonites

12 Jephthah sent men with a message to the Ammonite king. He asked, ‘Why have you come to fight against our people? What have we done to make you angry?’

13 The Ammonite king answered Jephthah's men, ‘You Israelites came here from Egypt and you took our land on the east side of the Jordan river. You have taken for yourselves all our land from the Arnon river in the south to the Jabbok river in the north. You have taken it all, as far as the Jordan river in the west. Now give it back to us, so that we do not need to fight for it.’

14 Jephthah sent the men back to the Ammonite king. 15 They said to him, ‘This is what Jephthah says: “Israel did not take for themselves the land of Moab, or the land of the Ammonites. 16 When the Israelites left Egypt, they went through the desert as far as the Red Sea. Then they travelled to Kadesh. 17 Then they sent a message to the King of Edom. They asked him, ‘Please let us travel through your land.’ But the King of Edom refused to let them do that. The Israelites sent the same message to the King of Moab. He also refused to agree. So the Israelites stayed at Kadesh.

18 Next, the Israelites went through the desert, around the edge of Edom and Moab. They arrived on the east side of Moab's land. They put up their tents on the other side of the Arnon river, which was the border of Moab's land. They did not go into Moab.

19 Sihon was the Amorite king who ruled in Heshbon. The Israelites sent a message to him. They asked him, ‘Please let us travel through your land to our own place.’ 20 But King Sihon did not trust the Israelites. He would not let them travel through his land. He brought his whole army to meet together at Jahaz. Then he fought against the Israelites.

21 The Lord, Israel's God, put Sihon and his whole army under the power of the Israelites. The Israelites won the fight against the Amorites. They took the Amorites' land for themselves. 22 The land went from the Arnon river in the south to the Jabbok river in the north. It went from the desert in the east to the Jordan river in the west.

23 You should realize that the Lord, Israel's God, chased out the Amorites. He has done that so that his own people, the Israelites, can live there. So why do you think that you can take it from them? 24 You may take the land that your god Chemosh gives to you. We will live in the land that the Lord our God has given to us. 25 Do you think that you are better than Zippor's son Balak, King of Moab? He was not brave enough to argue with the Israelites or to fight against them. 26 Israelites have been living here for 300 years! They have lived in Heshbon and Aroer and the villages around those towns. They have lived in all the towns along the Arnon river too. In all that time, you have not tried to take back those places for yourselves.

27 I have not done anything to hurt you. You are the one who is doing something wrong if you attack us. The Lord himself is the judge! He will decide whether the Israelites or the Ammonites are doing what is right.” ’

28 The Ammonite king refused to listen to the message that Jephthah had sent to him.