After besieging Gilead the Ammonites demanded their land which they claimed the Israelis took from them during their exodus from Egypt to Canaan.

Judges 11:4-13 KJV

4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.12 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? 13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

God had clearly instructed the Israelites not to take any land from the Ammonites

Deutoronomy 2:19-36 KJV

19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.

Deutoronomy 2:32 KJV

32 Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. 36 From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us:

The land that the Israelites took from Og & Sihon the ammorites stretched from the Arnon river to Jabbok.Arnon river was the border of Moab between Moab & Amorites whilst the Jabbok river was the border of the Ammonites.It is clear that Israelites attacked the Amorites as far as the border of the Ammonites which was heavily fortified.

It is only recorded that the Amorites took land from the Moabites( Numbers 21:27-30).Nothing is said of them having taken it from the Ammonites.

Could it be Sihon & Og the Amorites kings had taken the land from the Ammonites well before?

2 Answers 2


The conquest of this part of the land from Sihon comes from Numbers 21:24 (NRSV):

Israel put him to the sword, and took possession of his [Sihon's] land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites; for the boundary of the Ammonites was strong.

This is also the fact that is referred to by Jephthah in his reply to the king of Ammon (Judges 11:22).

The conquered Amorite territories mentioned are precisely those which the Ammonite king claimed belonged to the Ammonites. However, the text explicitly says that they didn't conquer any of the territory of the Ammonites, "for the boundary of the Ammonites was strong," directly contradicting the Ammonite king's claim in Judges 11:13 that the land was his.

It would be possible to reconcile the claims, as you suggest (as does the Talmud, Gittin 38a), by saying that these territories originally belonged to the Ammonites, but were then conquered by the Amorites, and the Israelites were permitted to conquer it without violating the command of Deuteronomy 2:19 because they didn't take the land from the Ammonites directly.

However, this line of reasoning leads to this problem: Since Ammon claimed the entire land that Israel conquered from Sihon, then what land did belong to Sihon? Was all of Sihon's territory stolen from the Ammonites?

In fact, I don't see any need to reconcile the two claims. There was a territory dispute between Israel and Ammon regarding the land from Arnon to Jabbok. The Israelite claim was that these territories were Amorite and had nothing to do with the Ammonites (this claim is represented by the story in Numbers, the command in Deuteronomy, and Jephthah's message in Judges). The Ammonite claim is that these territories were Ammonite, and the Israelites had conquered them from the Ammonites after the exodus (Judges 11:13). Since it was a territory dispute, each of the sides had different and mutually exclusive stories that represented their claims on the land.


Previous answer (b a) is correct. No need to reconcile. The Holy Spirit accurately recorded the words that men spoke, but that does not mean that the men were truthful. We know that God's word is absolutely true, but man's word might not be.

So when we see words spoken by men in the record, we must view them with the knowledge that men can and do lie. Which was the case in Judges 11:13. The king of Ammon made a false claim.

Jephtha disputes the king's false claim in the next verses:

"14 And Jephthah addeth yet and sendeth messengers unto the king of the Bene-Ammon,

15 and saith to him, `Thus said Jephthah, Israel took not the land of Moab, and the land of the Bene-Ammon,

16 for in their coming up out of Egypt, Israel goeth in the wilderness unto the Red Sea, and cometh in to Kadesh,

17 and Israel sendeth messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me pass over, I pray thee, through thy land, and the king of Edom hearkened not; and also unto the king of Moab hath [Israel] sent, and he hath not been willing; and Israel abideth in Kadesh,

18 and he goeth through the wilderness, and compasseth the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and cometh in at the rising of the sun of the land of Moab, and they encamp beyond Arnon, and have not come into the border of Moab, for Arnon [is] the border of Moab.

19 `And Israel sendeth messengers unto Sihon, king of the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and Israel saith to him, Let us pass over, we pray thee, through thy land, unto my place,

20 and Sihon hath not trusted Israel to pass over through his border, and Sihon gathereth all his people, and they encamp in Jahaz, and fight with Israel;

21 and Jehovah, God of Israel, giveth Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smite them, and Israel possesseth all the land of the Amorite, the inhabitant of that land,

22 and they possess all the border of the Amorite from Arnon, and unto the Jabbok, and from the wilderness, and unto the Jordan.

23 `And now, Jehovah, God of Israel, hath dispossessed the Amorite from the presence of His people Israel, and thou wouldst possess it!" (YLT)

The king of Ammon spoke with forked tongue.

  • ...and my favorite part in verse 25 : "In Israel's dwelling in Heshbon and in its towns, and in Aroer and in its towns, and in all the cities which are by the sides of Arnon three hundred years -- and wherefore have ye not delivered them in that time?" If it was so important to you what took you so long?
    – colboynik
    Sep 19, 2018 at 18:37
  • @Jack - Yes, that is a telling comment, isn't it.
    – Gina
    Sep 19, 2018 at 20:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.