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Answering The Atheist
January 22, 2006 / Volume 6, Issue 4

How should the Ammonites be treated? Deuteronomy 2:19, 37 commanded Israel not to fight against them or take their land, but in Judges 11:32 and Jeremiah 49:2, the Israelites are told to kill them and take their land. Is there a contradiction?

On the East side of the Jordan, camped in the plains of Moab, the Israelites heard the words of Moses as given in Deuteronomy 2, as he gives them a summary of their journey. They did not battle the people of Ammon, nor did they take their land. The land which was given to the Ammonites was not the land which God has promised to give to Israel as a possession.

When we come to Judges 11, some 250-300 years have passed. Israel has taken possession of their land, and the people of Ammon came up against Israel (Judges 11:4). In fighting against the Ammonites, the people of Israel were defending their own territory (11:12).

The final text, Jeremiah 49:2 is approximately 600 years following the time of Jephthah, 850-900 years removed from the speech of Moses before Israel in the plain of Moab. Israel had been taken captive during the days of Jeremiah. The prophet brings the word of the LORD against numerous nations who worked evil against the people of God. Ammon is one in a list of several who would be judged for their deeds against God's people. The final clause in verse 2 reads, "...then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs..." Israel would receive the land that others had taken from them. At the time Jeremiah was writing, the Ammonites occupied the territory which had been given to the tribe of Dan.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible