What does Judges 10:17 mean?
ESV: Then the Ammonites were called to arms, and they encamped in Gilead. And the people of Israel came together, and they encamped at Mizpah.
NIV: When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah.
NASB: Then the sons of Ammon were summoned, and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah.
CSB: The Ammonites were called together, and they camped in Gilead. So the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah.
NLT: At that time the armies of Ammon had gathered for war and were camped in Gilead, and the people of Israel assembled and camped at Mizpah.
KJV: Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.
NKJV: Then the people of Ammon gathered together and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah.
Verse Commentary:
Prior verses followed a back-and-forth conversation between God and the people of Israel. God had said He would not save Israel again; a deliberately shocking statement meant to emphasize the depths of their sin (Judges 10:11–14). As intended, Israel responded with humility and repentance, and God reached the limit of His intended discipline (Judges 10:15–16). The Israelites acknowledged their sins, which include forsaking the Lord (Judges 10:6). They have thrown out their idols and have begun to serve the Lord again.

While the question of God's rescue is still unanswered, the writer of Judges reveals a threat. The Ammonites (Judges 10:7–9) are staging a major offensive against Israel once more. They are camped on the east side of the Jordan River in the region known as Gilead. In response, the people of Israel have gathered their fighting men at a place called Mizpah. Scholars are certain that this is not the same Mizpah located in the territory of Benjamin, since that would be too far away. Instead, this Mizpah is likely also in the region of Gilead. As the text continues, it will become clear that this army of Israelites is made up mostly of those living in the local region of Gilead.
Verse Context:
Judges 10:17–18 forms a bridge between Israel's repentance and God's choice of their new deliverer. The Ammonites prepare to attack again. Israelites in Gilead gather fighting men while searching for a military leader. The following chapter details the rescue accomplished through that man: the next judge, Jephthah.
Chapter Summary:
Two more judges, Tola and Jair, rescue Israel for a time. Little detail is given about either. Once again, the people return to idolatry and depraved sins (Deuteronomy 12:29–31). In response, God submits His people to the Ammonites and Philistines. After eighteen years, they confess and beg for mercy. God bluntly refuses, this time. And yet, Israel shows humble repentance, getting rid of their idols. As God prepares to save the people, an army of Israelites in Gilead gathers to face an army of Ammonites. But the Israelite army lacks a leader.
Chapter Context:
After Gideon rescued Israel (Judges 6—8), his son, Abimelech, murdered his siblings and became a despotic ruler (Judges 9). That ended with further tragedy and bloodshed. Judges 10 begins with a brief description of two judges who ruled after the time of Abimelech. Then Israel falls further than ever into the worship of false gods. Nearly two decades after God turns the people over to their enemies, they confess their sinfulness. The Ammonites encamp against Israel in Gilead. The leaders of Gilead search for someone to lead them in battle. Chapter 11 details the call and success of the next judge, Jephthah.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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