“Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:6 Shibboleth - Which signifies a stream or river, which they desired to pass over: so it was a word proper for the occasion, and gave them no cause to suspect the design, because they were required only to express their desire to go over the Shibboleth or river. Sibboleth - It is well known, that not only divers nations, but divers provinces, or parts of the same nation who use the same language, differ in their manner of pronunciation. Could not frame - Or rather, he did not frame to speak right; so as he was required to do it. The Hebrew text doth not say, that he could not do it, but that he did it not, because suspecting not the design he uttered it speedily according to his manner of expression. There fell - Not in that place, but in that expedition, being slain either in the battle, or in the pursuit, or at Jordan. See the justice of God! They had gloried, that they were Ephraimites: But how soon are they afraid to own their country? They had called the Gileadites, fugitives: And now they are in good earnest become fugitives themselves. It is the same word, ver.#5|, used of the Ephraimites that fled, which they had used in scorn of the Gileadites. He that rolls the stone, or reproach unjustly on another, it may justly return upon himself.