Judges 11:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 11:26, NIV: For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn't you retake them during that time?

Judges 11:26, ESV: While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, 300 years, why did you not deliver them within that time?

Judges 11:26, KJV: While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?

Judges 11:26, NASB: While Israel was living in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?

Judges 11:26, NLT: 'Israel has been living here for 300 years, inhabiting Heshbon and its surrounding settlements, all the way to Aroer and its settlements, and in all the towns along the Arnon River. Why have you made no effort to recover it before now?

Judges 11:26, CSB: While Israel lived three hundred years in Heshbon and Aroer and their surrounding villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, why didn't you take them back at that time?

What does Judges 11:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Ammonites are encamped against Israel and ready to go to war against Gilead, east of the Jordan River (Judges 10:17–18; 11:4). The king of Ammon claims his cause is just, suggesting the Israelites took the land from his people centuries earlier (Judges 11:14).

Jephthah has offered three counterarguments to show that this is wrong. First, the Ammonites did not even possess the land of Gilead when Israel took possession of it (Judges 11:14–22). Second, it was the Lord that gave the land to Israel, meaning that it belonged to them by God's divine will (Judges 11:23–24.) Third, kings more prestigious than the current king of Ammon knew better than to try to take Gilead from Israel. That included Balak, the famous king of Moab during that time (Judges 11:15).

The fourth argument is simply one of time; it has been multiple generations since Israel has occupied this territory. Israel has had villages all over Gilead during that entire time. If the Ammonites truly had a claim on the land, why did they wait three centuries to try to take it back? Wouldn't they have attacked hundreds of years earlier if they believed this to be true? An implied aspect of Jephthah's claim here is an accusation: that the king of Ammon is simply lying. Noting the long delay before any action was taken suggests Ammon's king is fabricating this claim to the land, trying to fool others into thinking his war is a just one.