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1 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.

2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

3 And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.

5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

6 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.

7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

8 And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.

10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.

12 And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.

14 And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.

15 And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.

Commentary for Judges 12

Ephraimites quarrel with Jephthah. (1-7) Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judge Israel. (8-15)1-7 The Ephraimites had the same quarrel with Jephthah as with Gideon. Pride was at the bottom of the quarrel; only by that comes contention. It is ill to fasten names of reproach upon persons or countries, as is common, especially upon those under outward disadvantages. It often occasions quarrels that prove of ill consequence, as it did here. No contentions are so bitter as those between brethren or rivals for honour. What need we have to watch and pray against evil tempers! May the Lord incline all his people to follow after things which make for peace!

8-15 We have here a short account of three more of the judges of Israel. The happiest life of individuals, and the happiest state of society, is that which affords the fewest remarkable events. To live in credit and quiet, to be peacefully useful to those around us, to possess a clear conscience; but, above all, and without which nothing can avail, to enjoy communion with God our Saviour while we live, and to die at peace with God and man, form the substance of all that a wise man can desire.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for Judges 12

  • Christ Magnified Glorifying Jesus
    Day 69 of Bible Reading in a Year. Excellent history of the period of the judges who "ruled" Israel. It is fascinating how the "land" has and is still so very important even among the gentiles. The identification of people with the land for the Israelites revealed a history (though frequently broken" of trusting God to deliver them from their enemies and their own flesh.
  • David
    Have faith in the lord he will never fail us
  • Kaggwa Andrew
    No sin, un repented, may go un punished. Ephraimites despised God's choice in Gideon but God kept their punishment until Jephtha's time! adamantly they contended with these two, God's choices, ever questioning the source of authority for their actions, yet they knew surely that the hand of God was with them. When we vex with the anointed ones, we vex with God and its sin.
  • Michael C.
    How can we apply this part of the Word to ourselves today? 1) Evil words stir up evil behaviors. 2) Going with the crowds in an evil matter, will bring consequences. 3) Jephthah handled the wicked mouths of the Ephraimites; wicked mouths today need to be stopped, and their actions of hostility toward others without a cause, righteously punished. 4) We too have had many champions of God sent to us.
  • Kgomotso marumo
    God is still speaking today
  • AMA
    we do not have to despise people because you never know what tomorrow holds for them. in the case of Jephthah and his brethren.
  • Sara Addy
    we cannot depend on people they will let us down our sufficiency needs to be of God He never lets us down.

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Bible Trivia

When the men of Ephraim tried to cross the Jordon River, what word were they asked to say by the men of Gilead before crossing over?
  • Mephibosheth
  • Bethmarcaboth
  • Benoni
  • Abiasaph
  • Shibboleth