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The Jabbok River

Jabbok, from the Hebrew word pronounced yab-boke, was the name given to a stream that flows into the Jordan River (see The Jordan Valley) from the east, about half-way between The Sea Of Galilee and The Salt Sea (see the map below). The Jabbok originates in the east side of the mountains of Gilead and flows about 70 miles. In earlier Bible History (see also Bible Places), it marked the boundary between the territory of the Ammonites and that of Og, king of Bashan, but it later was an Israelite tribal boundary (see Eastern Tribal Lands).

"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel"

While on his return journey home from his years with Laban (see Jacob and Laban), Jacob was renamed "Israel" near the Jabbok River.

The Jabbok River

"And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two womenservants, and his eleven sons [see Children of Jacob], and passed over the ford Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had.

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.

And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

And he said unto him, What is thy name?

And he said, Jacob.

And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Genesis 32:22-28 KJV)

Years later, in the time that they were approaching their promised land after the Exodus, the Israelites captured the "land from Arnon unto Jabbok," not because they actually wanted it, but because the Ammonites spitefully refused Israel simple passage on the highway.

"And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's high way, until we be past thy borders.

And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon unto Jabbok, even unto the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof." (Numbers 21:21-25 KJV)

Centuries later, the king of Ammon (i.e. known today as the Kingdom of Jordan; their modern-day capital city is Amman, a form of Ammon, on the Jabbok River) demanded the surrender of that territory, "from Arnon even unto Jabbok," that had been captured at the time that the Israelites entered their promised land.

"And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably." (Judges 11:13 KJV)

Jephthah tried to reason with them peacefully, but when the king of Ammon refused, Jephthah, with The Lord's help, attacked as a matter of defense.

"Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: The Lord the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.

Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

Then the Spirit of The Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon." (Judges 11:27-29 KJV)

Fact Finder: Jephthah made a vow to The Lord that he would offer a certain sacrifice if The Lord helped him in battle against the Ammonites. What was that sacrifice?
See Abel-keramim

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