And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What have you to do with me…
I. THE PROFOUND SAGACITY AND SENSE OF INTERNATIONAL COURTESIES AND OBLIGATIONS DISPLAYED BY JEPHTHAH. An historical site is chosen, which had significance to all the nations neighbouring upon it. At Mizpah had Jacob and Laban made solemn covenant. To their descendant nations the place could not but possess a religious interest. It was a distinct advantage, therefore, to take up his head-quarters there. All his soul is possessed by the old associations of the place. It appears even in his language (vers. 10, 11). This persistent reference to the place was a guarantee of good faith and brotherly feeling. He speaks of the gods of Ammon and Israel from a neutral point of view.
II. HIS APPEAL TO HISTORY. It is sacred history, with the seal of God upon it. He recounts the details of the conquest by Israel, so far as they are relevant; shows that their own land is held by that title, and asks why for 300 years Israel's occupancy of the disputed territory had not been contested. The example of Balak, who saw that it would be destruction for him to contend with Israel, and forbore, is quoted aptly. The geographical limits are carefully indicated.
III. ALL THIS WAS WORTH WHILE, even with a heathen adversary. It stated the case upon broad, intelligible grounds; it raised no irrelevant questions, but was conciliatory; and there was no attempt at compromise. It is a moral gain when a point in dispute is thus clearly and dispassionately argued. It did not avert war, but it justified it. And Israel were strengthened and encouraged. The people could grasp the outlines of this great claim. They could go forward with confidence that their cause was righteous, and therefore the cause of God. Disputes between individuals and nations should be settled -
(1) upon common grounds and associations;
(2) courteously and kindly;
(3) with careful regard to facts; and
(4) God should be the great Witness. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?