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Judges 11:24

ESV Will you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? And all that the LORD our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess.
NIV Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.
NASB Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess it.
CSB Isn't it true that you can have whatever your god Chemosh conquers for you, and we can have whatever the Lord our God conquers for us?
NLT You keep whatever your god Chemosh gives you, and we will keep whatever the Lord our God gives us.
KJV Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.

What does Judges 11:24 mean?

In prior verses, Jephthah completed his historical argument for why Gilead belongs to the Israelites. The enemy king was wrong: Israel did not take the land from Ammonites during the era of Moses. Rather, Israel was attacked by the resident Amorites, who were defeated. In short, the Lord God of Israel gave it to His people (Judges 11:14–23).

Here, Jephthah continues to explore this theological argument. He has said the territory was given by God, asking if the king of Ammon is attempting to overthrow the will of the Lord.

Now Jephthah adds one of the gods of the Ammonites to his argument. Don't they believe their god, Chemosh, has given them the lands they already possess? Would they give up land they believed to be given to them by Chemosh just because someone asked them to do so? That's what Ammon has asked Jephthah to do: to "peaceably" hand over the territory (Judges 11:13).

The implied answer is clearly, "no." It would be unreasonable for a nation to give away what they believe was given by the divine will of their deity. Jephthah is pointing out that Ammon's king is making an absurd suggestion. The Israelites in Gilead would have no reason to give up the land the Lord "dispossessed" for them. Even if Ammon's king does not believe in the God of Israel, he must realize that Israel believes the Lord removed the Amorites from that land. The Israelites will not defy His will by giving it away to the Ammonites.

Jephthah probably does not believe that Chemosh is a real deity who gave land to the Ammonites. Faithful Israelites believed firmly the Lord was the only true God (Exodus 20:1–23) and that He was sovereign over the possession of all land. That included the land promised to Israel. Jephthah is making a logical point, appealing to ideas the king of Ammon likely already believes.

Scholars point out that Chemosh is usually identified as a deity of the Moabites; the Ammonites typically worshiped Molech. One possible explanation is that Jephthah made a mistake. The book of Judges records his statement but does not specifically comment on its accuracy. Others speculate the Ammonites may have worshiped Chemosh alongside Molech. Another theory connects to a tradition which claimed Chemosh gave the Ammonites their land while angry with the Moabites.

Yet another idea is that Jephthah was intentionally antagonizing the king by suggesting his land was given to him by a rival god instead of his own. His references to "greater" kings in the next verses are nearly a taunt and might be an echo of that same approach (Judges 11:25).
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