Judges 12:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 12:2, NIV: Jephthah answered, 'I and my people were engaged in a great struggle with the Ammonites, and although I called, you didn't save me out of their hands.

Judges 12:2, ESV: And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand.

Judges 12:2, KJV: And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

Judges 12:2, NASB: So Jephthah said to them, 'I and my people were in a major dispute with the sons of Ammon; and I did call you, but you did not save me from their hand.

Judges 12:2, NLT: Jephthah replied, 'I summoned you at the beginning of the dispute, but you refused to come! You failed to help us in our struggle against Ammon.

Judges 12:2, CSB: Then Jephthah said to them, "My people and I had a bitter conflict with the Ammonites. So I called for you, but you didn't deliver me from their power.

What does Judges 12:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The men of Ephraim have arrived on the east side of the Jordan River, in the territory of Gilead. They are armed and ready for battle—but the fight with the Ammonites is over (Judges 11:32–33). Jephthah has led the people of Gilead and greater Manasseh to victory, pushing the Ammonites out of Israel's territory. The men of Ephraim claim to be furious they were not invited to the war. They are so angry, in fact, they threatened to burn Jephthah inside his own house (Judges 12:1). This resembles a similar incident where Gideon had to deal with angry Ephraimites during his war against Midian (Judges 7:24; 8:1–3).

Jephthah's response is simple enough, though the text does not explicitly indicate whether it's true. He claims Gilead did call on the Ephraimites for help while the Ammonites were oppressing them. The men of Ephraim did not come and save them, either before (Judges 10:17–18; 11:4) or during the decisive battle.

The greater point being made here is that Gilead—not Ephraim—was under the worst threat. The Ammonites were on the verge of driving them from their own territory east of the Jordan. If Ephraim wanted to help Gilead, they could have responded to the call for help at any time. Rather than taking this well, the Ephraimites will escalate through insults and spark a minor civil war (Judges 12:4–6).