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Judges 11:12: Jephthah's Remonstrance with Ammon

[circa 1143 BC] Verse 12:[1] And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?

Messengers, that is, ambassadors, to prevent bloodshed, and make peace, as far as in him lay; that so the Israelites might be acquitted before God and men from all the sad consequences of this war: herein he showed great prudence, and no less piety.

[What to me and to thee?[2]] It is a Hebraism, What to me and to thee? that is, What business do I have with thee (Vatablus, Drusius), that thou hast come to me, and makest war on my country? That is to say, I have nothing in common with thee (Vatablus). The expression is a common to the Greeks as to the Hebrews: Joshua 22:24, What is to you and to the Lord?;[3] Matthew 8:29, What is to us and to thee?;[4] John 2:4, What is to me and to thee, woman?;[5] Anacreon,[6] Τὶ μοι καὶ μακροῖς αὐλοῖς; What is to me and the long flute?; Demosthenes, Τὶ νόμῳ καὶ βασάνῳ; What is to the law and torture?; Jerome, What is to me and to lust? (Drusius). Jephthah is engage in the duty of a good Prince, who does not undertake war until he has expostulated with the enemy, and attempted to compose the difference peacefully (Bonfrerius).

What hast thou to do with me? what pretence or reasonable cause hast thou for this invasion? My land; he speaks this in the name of all the people, whose the land was.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח יִפְתָּח֙ מַלְאָכִ֔ים אֶל־מֶ֥לֶךְ בְּנֵֽי־עַמּ֖וֹן לֵאמֹ֑ר מַה־לִּ֣י וָלָ֔ךְ כִּֽי־בָ֥אתָ אֵלַ֖י לְהִלָּחֵ֥ם בְּאַרְצִֽי׃

[2] Hebrew: מַה־לִּ֣י וָלָ֔ךְ.

[3] Joshua 22:24: “And if we have not rather done it for fear of this thing, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with the Lord (מַה־לָּכֶ֕ם וְלַֽיהוָ֖ה; τί ὑμῖν κυρίῳ, in the Septuagint) God of Israel?”

[4] Matthew 8:29: “And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee (τί ἡμῖν καὶ σοί), Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?”

[5] John 2:4: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι)? mine hour is not yet come.”

[6] Anacreon (c. 582-c. 485) was a Greek lyric poet, one of the nine canonical lyric poets.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 28, 2018

Fisher's Catechism: 'Question 69.12: What makes war lawful, and the shedding of blood in it warrantable?

Answer: When it is undertaken in defence of civil or religious liberties, after all due means have been rejected, for obtaining redress of the unjust invasions made upon them, Judges 11:12-34.'


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Sep 28, 2018

Matthew Henry: 'We have here the treaty between Jephthah, now judge of Israel, and the king of the Ammonites (who is not named), that the controversy between the two nations might, if possible, be accommodated without the effusion of blood....

Jephthah, as one having authority, sent to the king of Ammon, who in this war was the aggressor, to demand his reasons for invading the land of Israel: "Why hast thou come to fight against me in my land? Judges 11:12. Had I come first into thy land to disturb thee in thy possession, this would have been reason enough for fighting against me, for how must force be repelled but by force? but what hast thou to do to…

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