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The Jabbok River
by Wayne Blank
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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?