Judges chapter 12

Ephraim complains against Jephthah. The ninth judge is Ibzan. The tenth judge is Elon. The eleventh judge is Abdon.





VERSE 1. The men of Ephraim were gathered together, and passed northward; and they said to Jephthah, “Why did you pass over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didn’t call us to go with you? We will burn your house around you with fire!”

didn’t call us to go with you? The men of Ephraim are angry because Jephthah didn’t invite them to join the battle.

We will burn your house around you with fire! So they will murder Jephthah and his extended family.


VERSE 2. Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, you didn’t save me out of their hand.

when I called you. Jephthah had indeed asked the men of Ephraim to join the battle.

you didn’t save me. The men of Ephraim refused to help.


VERSE 3. When I saw that you didn’t save me, I put my life in my hand, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me today, to fight against me?”

the LORD delivered them into my hand. Thanks to the hand of the LORD God, Jephthah defeated the Ammonites.


VERSE 4. Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim. The men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the middle of Ephraim, and in the middle of Manasseh.”

fought with Ephraim. Jephthah initiates a war with Ephraim.


VERSE 5. The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. Whenever a fugitive of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No;”


VERSE 6. then they said to him, “Now say ‘Shibboleth;’ ” and he said “Sibboleth”; for he couldn’t manage to pronounce it correctly, then they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time, forty-two thousand of Ephraim fell.

Now say ‘Shibboleth. People of Ephraim were easily identified by their pronunciation of the Hebrew sound “sh.” They pronounced as an “s.”


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




VERSE 8. After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

Ibzan of Bethlehem. He is sometimes referred to as a “minor” judge.


VERSE 9. He had thirty sons. He sent his thirty daughters outside his clan, and he brought in thirty daughters from outside his clan for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.

He had thirty sons. This suggests Ibzan had a high status in the community.

thirty daughters. This too suggests Ibzan had a high status in the community.

brought in thirty daughters. This suggests Ibzan had political alliances outside his clan.


VERSE 10. Ibzan died, and was buried at Bethlehem.




VERSE 11. After him, Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.


VERSE 12. Elon the Zebulunite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.




VERSE 13. After him, Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel.


VERSE 14. He had forty sons and thirty sons’ sons who rode on seventy donkey colts. He judged Israel eight years.

He had forty sons. This suggests Abdon had a high status in the community.


VERSE 15. Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.


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