Judges 12:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 12:3, NIV: When I saw that you wouldn't help, I took my life in my hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave me the victory over them. Now why have you come up today to fight me?'

Judges 12:3, ESV: And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”

Judges 12:3, KJV: And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

Judges 12:3, NASB: When I saw that you were no deliverer, I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the LORD handed them over to me. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?'

Judges 12:3, NLT: So when I realized you weren't coming, I risked my life and went to battle without you, and the LORD gave me victory over the Ammonites. So why have you now come to fight me?'

Judges 12:3, CSB: When I saw that you weren't going to deliver me, I took my life in my own hands and crossed over to the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why then have you come today to fight against me? "

What does Judges 12:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jephthah continues to defend his actions to the men of Ephraim. He rejects their claim that they were not asked to come and fight with Gilead against the Ammonites (Judges 12:1–2). Jephthah insists that Gilead did call for help from Ephraim while Gilead was being oppressed (Judges 10:17–18; 11:4). The Ephraimites did not cross over the Jordan to save Gilead. Only now, after the battle, are they arriving to complain about not being involved in the fight.

When he realized Ephraim was not coming to save him, Jephthah risked his own life and acted alone. Then the Lord subjected the Ammonites to defeat. Here, again, Jephthah describes everything happening to Gilead in personal terms (Judges 11:12, 27). He speaks as the one under attack, the one who struck back, and the one who gained the victory. Commentators take this in one of several ways. One option is that Jephthah is completely self-focused; he really thinks everything happening is all about him. The other option is that he so thoroughly identifies with his people that he sees their suffering and victory as his own. Another possibility is that Jephthah is speaking as a head-of-state, rather than as an individual.

After pointing out that Ephraim had opportunities to fight, if they really wanted to, Jephthah asks for the real reason behind their aggression. It's a good question, but it gets no clear answer. Based on the taunts of the Ephraimites in the following verse (Judges 12:4), some commentators speculate Ephraim wanted to claim Gilead as their own. Whatever their true motives, the men of Ephraim have come ready for battle, and don't seem interested in being pacified.