Often, it is the people closest to us that seem to be the hardest to live with. The Ammonites and the Israelites were no exception.
The Ammonites were a people-group descended from a man named Ben-Ammi, who was the son of Abraham’s nephew, Lot (Gen. 19:38). After a long period of semi-nomadic existence, the Ammonites established a kingdom north of Moab in the 13th century BC… on the eastern border of Israel. They had occupied their territory before the Israelites came up from Egypt to live in the Promised Land of Canaan. God specifically instructed the Israelites not to take any Ammonite territory as they claimed other land in the region (Deut. 2:19).
The Ammonites worshiped the god, Molech, who was often associated with child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21; 2Ki. 23:10; Jer. 32:35). Sadly, by the reign of King Solomon, the Israelites became guilty of worshiping the Ammonite god of Solomon’s harem girls, too.
The Ammonites’ relationship with the Israelites was one of almost constant tension… and sometimes even outright aggression. The Law of Moses forbade any Ammonite from entering the tabernacle area (Deut. 23:3). The Ammonites took part in several alliances against Israel during the time of the Judges (Judg. 3:13; 10:7; 11:4), and they continued to attack Israel during the reign of King Saul (1Sam. 11:1).
David eventually brought them under the rule of Israel (2Sam. 12:26-29), but they regained their independence after Israel split into 2 kingdoms. Various Israelite kings continued to struggle with them (2Chron. 20:1; 26:8; 27:5). During the reign of Jehoiakim (6th century BC), the Ammonites allied themselves with the Chaldeans, Syrians, and others in an attack on Judah and also harassed the Israelites when they attempted to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile (Neh. 4:7,8; Jer. 40:14).
In the 2nd century BC, they were defeated by Judas Maccabeus.
Constantly poking… constantly prodding… always right there, antagonizing. It shouldn’t have been that way, but it was.
It’s sad when those who should be like us – and with us – tend to be against us.
But, it’s also sad when our actions too closely match those who are doing wrong. The reason Israel had constant trouble with the Ammonites was not just because the Ammonites were wrong; it was also because the Israelites were constantly flirting with them… compromising their own values and beliefs. If a hard line had been drawn, their minds and hearts would have been totally focused on God and His direction.
Are you struggling with someone who seems to be a constant antagonist?
Have you drawn that line… making it clear what you believe and where you stand? If you continue to straddle that fine line, you will sometimes be confused as being part of the group you should not be with.
You can read the story of the Ammonites off and on throughout the Old Testament.