Judges 10:18 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 10:18, NIV: The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, 'Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead.'

Judges 10:18, ESV: And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said one to another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”

Judges 10:18, KJV: And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

Judges 10:18, NASB: And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, 'Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.'

Judges 10:18, NLT: The leaders of Gilead said to each other, 'Whoever attacks the Ammonites first will become ruler over all the people of Gilead.'

Judges 10:18, CSB: The rulers of Gilead said to one another, "Which man will begin the fight against the Ammonites? He will be the leader of all the inhabitants of Gilead."

What does Judges 10:18 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Ammonites have oppressed Israel for eighteen years (Judges 10:6–9). This enemy who has brought such misery is now staging another offensive. The Ammonites have collected their army in the region of Gilead east of the Jordan River. The Israelites have responded by masing their own troops at a place in Gilead known as Mizpah. The two forces are mounting for an impending battle.

Here, a problem is revealed. The Israelites in Gilead have no military leader. Obviously, there would have been some with more experience than others. And some men were likely natural leaders. But it's clear none of their options are the right one; nobody has risen to provide strategy, direction, and boldness for the fighters of Gilead to follow. So, Gilead's leaders agree together to make a grand offer to whatever qualified man will take over. The person who leads them against the Ammonites will be granted the role of head—the "chief" or "captain"—over all the people in Gilead. Presumably, he will take this role as soon as the Ammonites are defeated.

The following chapter reveals who this man will be and how he will come to be selected. The prior judge, Gideon, was involved in questionable choices and family sins (Judges 8:27–31). Yet, he's remembered mostly for his victories (Judges 8:22–23). Jephthah will also rescue Israel, yet he will be best known for a single unwise and controversial promise (Judges 11:30).