Judges 10:17
Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
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(17) Then.—Rather, and, a general note of time.

Were gathered together.—Literally, were cried together. Conclamati sunt.

In Mizpeh.—A very common name, since it means “watch-tower.” This is doubtless the Mizpeh in Gilead (Judges 11:29; Joshua 11:3), also called Ramoth-Mizpeh, or Ramoth-Gilead (Joshua 13:26; Joshua 20:8). (Comp. Genesis 31:49).

10:10-18 God is able to multiply men's punishments according to the numbers of their sins and idols. But there is hope when sinners cry to the Lord for help, and lament their ungodliness as well as their more open transgressions. It is necessary, in true repentance, that there be a full conviction that those things cannot help us which we have set in competition with God. They acknowledged what they deserved, yet prayed to God not to deal with them according to their deserts. We must submit to God's justice, with a hope in his mercy. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. As the disobedience and misery of a child are a grief to a tender father, so the provocations of God's people are a grief to him. From him mercy never can be sought in vain. Let then the trembling sinner, and the almost despairing backslider, cease from debating about God's secret purposes, or from expecting to find hope from former experiences. Let them cast themselves on the mercy of God our Saviour, humble themselves under his hand, seek deliverance from the powers of darkness, separate themselves from sin, and from occasions of it, use the means of grace diligently, and wait the Lord's time, and so they shall certainly rejoice in his mercy.The historian, having related the preliminary incidents, now comes to the final issue which forms the subject matter of his narrative. On a certain occasion, as on many previous ones, the Ammonites were encamped in Gilead, with the intention of dispossessing the Israelites of the whole country, or at least as far as the river Jabbok Judges 11:13, and of invading the West-Jordanic tribes. The children of Israel on the East of Jordan assembled together to resist them, and pitched their camp in Mizpeh. The narrative proceeds to detail what happened.

Mizpeh - , as its name, "watch-tower" or "look-out" indicates was situated on a height of Mount Gilead, and was, as such, a strong post. It is almost always written, "THE Mizpeh," or watch-tower. Four or five places of the name occur in Scripture.

17, 18. the children of Ammon were gathered together—From carrying on guerrilla warfare, the Ammonites proceeded to a continued campaign. Their settled aim was to wrest the whole of the trans-jordanic territory from its actual occupiers. In this great crisis, a general meeting of the Israelitish tribes was held at Mizpeh. This Mizpeh was in eastern Manasseh (Jos 11:3). That Mizpeh which was beyond Jordan in Gad or Manasseh; of which see Genesis 31:49 Joshua 18:26 Judges 10:17 11:11,29,34. There were other cities of that name in Scripture. Then the children of Ammon were gathered together,.... By a crier, as Jarchi; they had passed over Jordan, as in Judges 10:9 and had been distressing three of the tribes of Israel on that side; but now being informed, by an herald at arms, that the children of Israel, on the other side Jordan, were risen up in defence of their country, rights, and liberties, the children of Ammon came back and crossed over Jordan again:

and encamped in Gilead; in the land of Gilead, part of which belonged to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the other part to the half tribe of Manasseh:

and the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped at Mizpeh: of which name there were several cities in the land of Israel, on both sides Jordan; this must design a place on the other side Jordan, either in the tribe of Gad or Manasseh, for it seems there was of this name in each, see Genesis 31:49.

Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
17. On this and the following verse see above. The Ammonites occupied the district which lay to the N.E. of Moab, bordered by the eastern desert. Their chief city was Rabbath-ammon, in Greek Philadelphia, now ‘Ammân, near the source of the Jabbok; their other cities (Jdg 11:33, 2 Samuel 12:31) were insignificant. Like the Moabites, the Ammonites were regarded as akin to Israel, but with feelings of repugnance, Genesis 19:36 ff.; probably also, like the Moabites, they spoke a language closely allied to that of Israel. In the days of Saul (1 Samuel 11) and David (2 Samuel 10-12) their hostility broke out afresh. The Bedouin on the edge of the Syrian desert have always been ready to plunder the agricultural country within reach.

encamped in Gilead] Here apparently a city, cf. Hosea 6:8, perhaps the modern Jal‘ûd, on the high ground a little S. of the Jabbok.

encamped in Mizpah] Cf. Jdg 11:11; Jdg 11:34, apparently = Mizpeh of Gilead Jdg 11:29; the name (which belongs to several places) means ‘outlook point,’ LXX here ἡ σκοπιά, and implies a situation commanding a view; Jebel Ôsha‘, near es-Salt, not far S. of Jal‘ûd, would suit the conditions. Among other sites proposed, that of Ḳal‘at er-Rabaḍ, N. of Jal‘ûd and of the Jabbok, may be mentioned. At Mizpah was a sanctuary of Jehovah, and the home of Jephthah (Jdg 11:11; Jdg 11:34). The Israelites gathered to the camp, but as yet they had no leader.Verse 17. - This verse ought to begin the new chapter. The preliminary matter of Israel's sin, of their oppression by the Ammonites, of their repentance and return to the God of their fathers, and of God's merciful acceptance of their penitence and prayer, was concluded in the last verse. The history of their deliverance by Jephthah begins here. And the children of Ammon, etc., i.e. they encamped, as they had done during the previous seventeen years, in Gilead, either to carry off the crops or to wring tribute from the people, or in some other way to oppress them, expecting no doubt to meet with tame submission as before. But a new spirit was aroused among the Israelites. By whatever channel the bitter reproach in vers. 11-14 had been convey. ed to them, probably by the same channel, whether angel, or prophet, or high priest, had an answer of peace come to them on their repentance, and so they were roused and encouraged to resistance. As a first step, they encamped in Mizpeh (see Judges 11:11, 29, 34). Mizpeh, or Mizpah of Gilead, is probably the same as Mizpah in Gilead where Laban and Jacob parted (Genesis 31:25, 49); as Ramoth-Mizpeh (Joshua 13:26), called simply Ramoth in Gilead (Joshua 20:8; 1 Chronicles 6:80); and as the place well known in later Israelite history as Ramoth-Gilead (1 Kings 4:13; 1 Kings 22:3, 6), situated in the tribe of Gad, and a strong place of much importance. It was the place of national meeting for the whole of Gilead. Mizpah means the watch-tower, and would of course be upon a height, as the name Ramoth-Mizpeh, the heights of Mizpeh, also shows. It almost always preserves its meaning as an appellative, having the article prefixed, ham-mizpah, which is its usual form; only once ham-mizpeh (Joshua 15:38), and Mizpeh (Joshua 11:18; Judges 11:29; 1 Samuel 22:3), and once Mizpah (Hosea 5:1). Whether Mizpeh in Judges 20:1-3 is the same will be considered in the note to that passage. The modern site is not identified with certainty; it is thought to be es-Salt. When the Israelites cried in their distress to the Lord, "We have sinned against Thee, namely, that we have forsaken our God and served the Baals," the Lord first of all reminded them of the manifestations of His grace (Judges 10:11, Judges 10:12), and then pointed out to them their faithless apostasy and the worthlessness of their idols (Judges 10:13, Judges 10:14). וכי, "and indeed that," describes the sin more minutely, and there is no necessity to remove it from the text-an act which is neither warranted by its absence from several MSS nor by its omission from the Sept., the Syriac, and the Vulgate. Baalim is a general term used to denote all the false gods, as in Judges 2:11. This answer on the part of God to the prayer of the Israelites for help is not to be regarded as having been given through an extraordinary manifestation (theophany), or through the medium of a prophet, for that would certainly have been recorded; but it was evidently given in front of the tabernacle, where the people had called upon the Lord, and either came through the high priest, or else through an inward voice in which God spoke to the hearts of the people, i.e., through the voice of their own consciences, by which God recalled to their memories and impressed upon their hearts first of all His own gracious acts, and then their faithless apostasy. There is an anakolouthon in the words of God. The construction which is commenced with ממּצרים is dropped at וגו וצידונים in Judges 10:12; and the verb הושׁעתּי, which answers to the beginning of the clause, is brought up afterwards in the form of an apodosis with אתכם ואושׁיעה. "Did I not deliver you (1) from the Egyptians (cf. Exodus 1-14); (2) from the Amorites (cf. Numbers 21:3); (3) from the Ammonites (who oppressed Israel along with the Moabites in the time of Ehud, Judges 3:12.); (4) from the Philistines (through Shamgar: see 1 Samuel 12:9, where the Philistines are mentioned between Sisera and Moab); (5) from the Sidonians (among whom probably the northern Canaanites under Jabin are included, as Sidon, according to Judges 18:7, Judges 18:28, appears to have exercised a kind of principality or protectorate over the northern tribes of Canaan); (6) from the Amalekites (who attacked the Israelites even at Horeb, Exodus 17:8., and afterwards invaded the land of Israel both with the Moabites, Judges 3:13, and also with the Midianites, Judges 6:3); and (7) from the Midianites?" (see Judges 6-7). The last is the reading of the lxx in Cod. Al. and Vat., viz., Μαδιάμ; whereas Ald. and Compl. read Χαναάν, also the Vulgate. In the Masoretic text, on the other hand, we have Maon. Were this the original and true reading, we might perhaps think of the Mehunim, who are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:7 along with Philistines and Arabians (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:41), and are supposed to have been inhabitants of the city of Maan on the Syrian pilgrim road to the east of Petra (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 734 and 1035: see Ewald, Gesch. i. pp. 321, 322). But there is very little probability in this supposition, as we cannot possibly see how so small a people could have oppressed Israel so grievously at that time, that the deliverance from their oppression could be mentioned here; whilst it would be very strange that nothing should be said about the terrible oppression of the Midianites and the wonderful deliverance from that oppression effected by Gideon. Consequently the Septuagint (Μαδιάμ) appears to have preserve the original text.
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