Study Guide

Book of Judges Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Actually, It's Pronounced "Shibboleth"

  • As if Jephthah didn't have enough on his mind, the tribe of Ephraim, which hadn't participated in the battle against the Ammonites, gets mad at him for not including them in the fight against Ammon.
  • Jephthah's like, "You gotta be kidding me! I did call you, and you refused to come!" So he gathers his army of Gileadites and gives Ephraim a whoopin'.
  • For the defeated Ephraimites to escape back to their own lands, they must use a river-crossing controlled by Jephthah's men, so they need to try to pass themselves off as non-Ephraimites.
  • The Gileadites come up with a test for anyone who wants to cross: They ask them to say "shibboleth" (meaning "stream" in Hebrew), because the Ephraimites can't make the "shh" sound (they speak a different dialect of Hebrew).
  • Thousands of Ephraimites die trying to cross over Jordan as their speech impediment gives them away.
  • Jephthah judges Israel for six more years without incident, and dies. For the next 24 years, nothing happens—at least nothing important enough for the Bible to tell us about:
  • Ibzan judges Israel for 7 more years without incident, and dies.
  • Elon (not that Elon) judges Israel for 10 years without incident, and dies.
  • Abdon judges Israel for 8 years without incident, and dies.
  • Ok, enough of that. Coming up next: the blockbuster star of Judges is born!

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