Judges 11:17
Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray you, pass through your land: but the king of Edom would not listen thereto. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel stayed in Kadesh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Unto the king of Edom.—As narrated in Numbers 20:14, seq. Even if Jephthah had no written documents before him to which he could refer, the events which he recounts were not so distant as to have been forgotten.

Unto the king of Moab.—This is not recorded in the Pentateuch, but the Israelites did not enter the territory of Moab (Deuteronomy 2:9; Deuteronomy 2:36). The Arnon bounded Moab from the Amorites (Numbers 21:13), and Israel encamped upon its banks.

Abode in Kadesh.—“Many days” (Deuteronomy 2:1). Probably they were encamped at Kadesh during a great part of the forty years (Deuteronomy 2:14).

11:12-28 One instance of the honour and respect we owe to God, as our God, is, rightly to employ what he gives us to possess. Receive it from him, use it for him, and part with it when he calls for it. The whole of this message shows that Jephthah was well acquainted with the books of Moses. His argument was clear, and his demand reasonable. Those who possess the most courageous faith, will be the most disposed for peace, and the readiest to make advances to obtain; but rapacity and ambition often cloak their designs under a plea of equity, and render peaceful endeavours of no avail.No mention is made of this embassy to Moab in the Pentateuch.13. the king of Ammon …, Because Israel took away my land—(See on [221]De 2:19). The subject of quarrel was a claim of right advanced by the Ammonite monarch to the lands which the Israelites were occupying. Jephthah's reply was clear, decisive, and unanswerable;—first, those lands were not in the possession of the Ammonites when his countrymen got them, and that they had been acquired by right of conquest from the Amorites [Jud 11:21]; secondly, the Israelites had now, by a lapse of three hundred years of undisputed possession, established a prescriptive right to the occupation [Jud 11:22, 23]; and thirdly, having received a grant of them from the Lord, his people were entitled to maintain their right on the same principle that guided the Ammonites in receiving, from their god Chemosh, the territory they now occupied [Jud 11:24]. This diplomatic statement, so admirable for the clearness and force of its arguments, concluded with a solemn appeal to God to maintain, by the issue of events, the cause of right and justice [Jud 11:27]. Peaceably, and did not revenge their unkindness and inhumanity, as they could have done. Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom,.... The history of which may be read in Numbers 20:14, &c.

saying, let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land; the land of Edom, from the south to the north of it, according to Jarchi, which was the nearest and shortest way to the land of Canaan; so far were the Israelites from invading and seizing upon the properties of others, that they would not attempt to set their foot in another's country without leave; which they asked in an humble manner, promising to do no injury to any, but pay for whatever they ate and drank in their passage:

but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto; or grant their request, but refused them passage through his country:

and in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab, but he would not consent; that they should pass through his country, which lay, as Jarchi says, at the end of the land of Edom, to the west of it, and to the south of Canaan; and though we nowhere else read of their sending messengers to the king of Moab, and of the denial he made them, it is not at all to be doubted of, and the Jewish commentators observe, that it is clearly intimated by Moses, Deuteronomy 2:29.

as the children of Esau, who dwelt in Seir, and the Moabites which dwelt in Ar, did unto me; which they interpret thus, as the children of Esau would not suffer Israel to pass through their land, when desired of them, so neither would the Moabites, when the same request was made to them:

and Israel abode in Kadesh; quietly and peaceably, and did not attempt to force their way through either country, but continued in Kadesh some little time to consider what way they should take, and to wait for divine direction.

Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. Abbreviated from Numbers 20:14-18 JE. Edom lay to the S. and S.E. of Palestine. There is no mention elsewhere of the embassy to Moab.

Let me, I pray thee] The nation as a whole is personified, a not uncommon idiom; cf. Jdg 11:12, Jdg 20:23, Numbers 20:18 etc. In Jdg 11:19, Numbers 20:17; Numbers 20:19 the plur. and sing, interchange.Verse 17. - Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I Pray thee, pass through thy land (country in A.V. Numbers 20:17). The words in italics are found in Numbers 20:14, 17. And Israel abode in Kadesh. These words are in Numbers 20:1; see also Deuteronomy 1:46. The king of Edom would not hearken. This is related in substance in Numbers 20:18-21. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab. There is no mention of this in the Mosaic narrative. The knowledge of it must have been preserved either by tradition or in some other now lost writings; perhaps in the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14). It is in itself very probable that such a message should have been sent to the king of Moab, whose territories Israel was forbidden to meddle with (Deuteronomy 2:9, 19). Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, "and the people (i.e., the inhabitants of Gilead) made him head and captain, and Jephthah spoke all his words before Jehovah at Mizpeh:" i.e., he repeated in a solemn assembly of the people, before God at Mizpeh, the conditions and obligations under which he would accept the honour conferred upon him. "Before Jehovah" does not necessarily presuppose the presence of the ark at Mizpeh; nor can we possibly assume this, since the war was resolved upon primarily by the eastern tribes alone, and they had no ark at all. It merely affirms that Jephthah performed this act, looking up to God, the omnipresent head of Israel. Still less do the words warrant the assumption that there was an altar in Mizpeh, and that sacrifices were offered to confirm the treaty, of which there is not the slightest indication in the text. "'Before Jehovah' implies nothing more than that Jephthah confirmed all his words by an oath" (Hengstenberg, Diss. ii. pp. 35, 36).
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