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Shibboleth


"River, or an ear of corn. The tribes living on the east of" "Jordan, separated from their brethren on the west by the deep" "ravines and the rapid river, gradually came to adopt peculiar" "customs, and from mixing largely with the Moabites, Ishmaelites," and Ammonites to pronounce certain letters in such a manner as to distinguish them from the other tribes. Thus when the "Ephraimites from the west invaded Gilead, and were defeated by" "the Gileadites under the leadership of Jephthah, and tried to" "escape by the "passages of the Jordan," the Gileadites seized" the fords and would allow none to pass who could not pronounce shibboleth with a strong aspirate. This the fugitives were "unable to do. They said "sibboleth," as the word was pronounced" "by the tribes on the west, and thus they were detected (Judg." "12:1-6). Forty-two thousand were thus detected, and" "Without reprieve, adjudged to death, For want of "well-pronouncing shibboleth."


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Definition of Shibboleth:
"Sibboleth, ear of corn; stream or flood"