And now are you any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Art thou anything better than Balak?—Literally, Are you the good, good in comparison with? It is one of the Hebrew ways of expressing the superlative. Jephthah here argues from prescriptive right, which even the contemporary king Balak had not ventured to challenge, showing, therefore, that he admitted the claim of Israel, deadly as was his hatred against them.
Did he ever fight against them?—This may seem at first sight to contradict Joshua 24:9. There “Balak the son of Zippor arose and warred against Israel”; and we might infer that it was in some Moabite battle that Baalam had been slain (Numbers 31:8; Joshua 13:22). But this would not affect Jephthah’s argument. Balak had fought against Israel out of pure hatred, not from any pretensions to claim their conquests from them.Jdg 11:25. Art thou any thing better than Balak? — Art thou wiser than he? Or hast thou more right than he had? This is a third argument, that though Balak plotted against Israel, in defence of his own land, which he feared they would invade and conquer, yet he never contended with them about the restitution of those lands which Sihon took from him or his predecessors, laid no claim to them, nor ever demanded to have them restored.Art thou better than Balak? art thou wiser than he? or hast thou more right than he had? Balak, though he plotted against Israel, in defence of his own land, which he feared they would invade and conquer, Numbers 22:4; yet he never contended with them about the restitution of those lands which Sihon took from him or his predecessors, after the Israelites had conquered them.
did he ever strive against Israel? for the land they took away from Sihon formerly in the possession of the Moabites? did he ever lay any claim to it, or enter into any dispute, or litigate with Israel about it? not at all:
or did he ever fight against Israel? that is, on that account; no, he sent for Balaam to curse Israel, and sought to defend and secure his own country he was in possession of, which he thought was in danger by the Israelites being so near him; but he never made war with them under any such pretence, that they had done him any injury by inheriting the land they had taken from Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites.And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)25. art thou … better than Balak] Though the king of Ammon is supposed to be addressed, the question really aims at some king of Moab: is he a better man than his predecessor Balak, who did not dare to fight Israel? The verse agrees with Numbers 22-24, where no mention is made of a war between Moab and Israel; Joshua 24:9 a is probably due to an annotator.Verse 25. - Art thou anything better, etc. Jephthah now advances another argument to prove the justice of his cause and the unreasonableness of the Ammonite claim. If the territory in question was Moabite property, bow came it that Balak laid no claim to it? He was an enemy of the Israelites, and yet when Israel took possession of the land, and dwelt in Heshbon, its capital, and the daughter cities or villages thereof, and in Aroer and her daughter cities or villages, and in all the cities on the banks of the Amen, Balak never strove about them with Israel, or went to war to recover them - a plain proof that he did not look upon them as his property. If they were his, that was the time to claim and recover them, but he had not done so. Judges 11:19-22 are almost verbatim the same as Numbers 21:21-25. Israel then sent messengers to Sihon the king of the Amorites at Heshbon, to ask permission to pass through his land. "Into my place," i.e., into the land of Canaan, that Jehovah has appointed for me. But Sihon "trusted not Israel to pass through his land," i.e., he did not trust to the assurance of Israel that they only wanted to pass peaceably through his land, but supposed the petition to cover an intention to take forcible possession of it. (In Numbers 21:23 we have נתן לא instead of האמין לא.) He did not confine himself, therefore, to a refusal of the permission they asked for, but collected his men of war, and marched against the Israelites to the desert as far as Jahza, on the east of Medeba and Dibon (see at Numbers 21:23), and fought with them. But he was defeated, and lost all his land, from the Arnon (Mojeb) on the south to the Jabbok (Zerka) on the north, and from the desert on the east to the Jordan on the west, of which the Israelites took possession.
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