Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#23 - How should the Ammonites be treated?

Response by Wendell Leahy

Do not fight against them or take their land.

Deuteronomy 2:19
And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.

Deuteronomy 2:37
Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.

Kill them and take their land.

Judges 11:32
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.

Jeremiah 49:2
I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire.

Deuteronomy 2:5 & 2:9 give a background to verses 2:19 & 2:37

Deut: 2:5: Meddle not with them; for I will not give F10 you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.

Deut: 2:9: And the LORD said unto me, Distress F11 not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.

Deut: 2:19 And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.

Deuteronomy 2:19 -37

Jamieson, Fausset, Brown states:
when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them--The Ammonites, being kindred to the Moabites, were, from regard to the memory of their common ancestor, to remain undisturbed by the Israelites. The territory of this people had been directly north from that of Moab. It extended as far as the Jabbok, having been taken by them from a number of small Canaanitish tribes, namely, the Zamzummins, a bullying, presumptuous band of giants, as their name indicates; and the Avims, the aborigines of the district extending from Hazerim or Hazeroth (El Hudhera) even unto Azzah (Gaza), but of which they had been dispossessed by the Caphtorim (Philistines), who came out of Caphtor (Lower Egypt) and settled in the western coast of Palestine. The limits of the Ammonites were now compressed; but they still possessed the mountainous region beyond the Jabbok (Joshua 11:2). What a strange insight does this parenthesis of four verses give into the early history of Palestine! How many successive wars of conquest had swept over its early state--what changes of dynasty among the Canaanitish tribes had taken place long prior to the transactions recorded in this history!
Matthew Henry states:
Deut: 8-23: We have the origin of the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites. Moses also gives an instance older than any of these; the Caphtorims drove the Avims out of their country. These revolutions show what uncertain things wordly possessions are. It was so of old, and ever will be so. Families decline, and from them estates are transferred to families that increase; so little continuance is there in these things. This is recorded to encourage the children of Israel. If the providence of God has done this for Moabites and Ammonites, much more would his promise do it for Israel, his peculiar people. Cautions are given not to meddle with Moabites and Ammonites. Even wicked men must not be wronged. God gives and preserves outward blessings to wicked men; these are not the best things, he has better in store for his own children.
24-37 God tried his people, by forbidding them to meddle with the rich countries of Moab and Ammon. He gives them possession of the country of the Amorites. If we keep from what God forbids, we shall not lose by our obedience. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; and he gives it to whom he pleases; but when there is no express direction, none can plead his grant for such proceedings. Though God assured the Israelites that the land should be their own, yet they must contend with the enemy. What God gives we must endeavour to get. What a new world did Israel now come into! Much more joyful will the change be, which holy souls will experience, when they remove out of the wilderness of this world to the better country, that is, the heavenly, to the city that has foundations. Let us, by reflecting upon God's dealings with his people Israel, be led to meditate upon our years spent in vanity, through our transgressions. But happy are those whom Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come. To whom he hath given the earnest of his Spirit in their hearts. Their inheritance cannot be affected by revolutions of kingdoms, or changes in earthly possessions.
2 Chronicles 20:10: "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them

Judges 11:32, Jeremiah 49:2

Jamieson, Fausset, Brown states:
Judges 11:32. Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon . . . and the Lord delivered them into his hands--He met and engaged them at Aroer, a town in the tribe of Gad, upon the Arnon. A decisive victory crowned the arms of Israel, and the pursuit was continued to Abel (plain of the vineyards), from south to north, over an extent of about sixty miles.
Jephthah Eastons bible dictionary
whom God sets free, or the breaker through, a "mighty man of valour" who delivered Israel from the oppression of the Ammonites (Judges 11:1-33), and judged Israel six years (12:7). He has been described as "a wild, daring, Gilead mountaineer, a sort of warrior Elijah." After forty-five years of comparative quiet Israel again apostatized, and in "process of time the children of Ammon made war against Israel" (11:5). In their distress the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob, to which he had fled when driven out wrongfully by his brothers from his father's inheritance (2), and the people made him their head and captain. The "elders of Gilead" in their extremity summoned him to their aid, and he at once undertook the conduct of the war against Ammon. Twice he sent an embassy to the king of Ammon, but in vain. War was inevitable. The people obeyed his summons, and "the spirit of the Lord came upon him." Before engaging in war he vowed that if successful he would offer as a "burnt-offering" whatever would come out of the door of his house first to meet him on his return. The defeat of the Ammonites was complete. "He smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards [Heb. 'Abel Keramim], with a very great slaughter" (Judges 11:33). The men of Ephraim regarded themselves as insulted in not having been called by Jephthah to go with him to war against Ammon. This led to a war between the men of Gilead and Ephraim (12:4), in which many of the Ephraimites perished. (See SHIBBOLETH .) "Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead" (7).
Jeremiah 49:2

Jamieson, Fausset, Brown states:
Rabbah--"the great," metropolis of Ammon (2 Samuel 12:26-30). Its destruction is foretold also in Ezekiel 25:5, Amos 1:14,15. her daughters--the towns and villages, dependencies of the metropolis (Joshua 15:45). shall . . . be heir--shall possess those who possessed him. The full accomplishment of this is still future; partially fulfilled under the Maccabees (I Maccabees 5:6).
Predictions concerning the Ammonites
* Subjection to Babylon Jeremiah 25:9-21; 27:3,6
* Destructions for hatred to Israel Ezekiel 25:2-10; Zephaniah 2:8,9
* Punishment for oppressive cruelty Jeremiah 49:1-5; Amos 1:13-15
* Restoration Jeremiah 49:6
* Subjection to the Jews Isaiah 11:14

The Ammonites
* DESCENT of - Genesis 19:38
* CALLED the Children of Lot - Deuteronomy 2:19
* Children of Ammon - Jeremiah 25:21

Related links:
Looking unto
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD by Andrew McFarland