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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Judges 12

Verses 1-7

Ammonite Oppression and Deliverance by Jephthah The story of Jephthah’s leadership over Israel during the period of the Judges offers readers one of the most amazing stories to deal with in the Holy Scriptures. This judge made a vow unto the Lord that resulted in the offering of his daughter as a burnt sacrifice unto the Lord. Yet, the great victory that the Lord gave him in defeating the Ammonites won him recognition in the “Hall of Faith” found in Hebrews 11:1-40. Jephthah is listed with a number of other judges because he demonstrated tremendous faith in God (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Hebrews 11:32-34, “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

Haddon Robinson says this story teaches us that “God overlooks ignorance, but not unbelief.” [22]

[22] Haddon W. Robinson, “The Story of Jephthah: Judges 11:0,” Expository Homiletical Conference, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Hamilton, Massachusetts, 14 October 2011.

Verses 1-15

Judges 12:1-6 Gilead Fights Ephraim Judges 12:1-6 records the civil war between several tribes of Israel, the Gileadites and Ephraimites. Gideon was able to reason with this tribe diplomatically and appease their anger (Judges 8:1-3). In contrast, Jephthah gave this same tribe a harsh answer and had to fight them in battle. This story illustrates Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Judges 12:6 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.

Judges 12:6 Word Study on “Shibboleth” Strong says the Hebrew word “Shibboleth” ( שִׁבֹּלֶת ) (H7641) means, “a stream (as flowing); also an ear of grain (as growing out); by analogy, a branch.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 19 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “ears 11, ears of corn 3, branches 1, channel 1, floods 1, Shibboleth 1, waterflood + 04325 1.”

Judges 12:6 Word Study on “Sibboleth” The Hebrew word “Sibboleth” ( סִבֹּלֶת ) (H5451) is a corrupted pronunciation of “Shibboleth.”

Judges 12:6 Comments - Although the Hebrew language was unique to the nation of Israel, the people developed different dialects. Judges 12:6 shows that the Hebrew silibant “shin” ( שׁ ) was also pronounced “sin” ( שׂ ) by the Ephraimites. Since the Gileadites were standing at a flowing stream, they picked a word that meant “a stream,” and they asked the Ephraimites to pronounce it. We read in the New Testament that the speech of the Galileans was pronounced different than that of Judea (Mark 14:70).

Mark 14:70, “And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Judges 12". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/judges-12.html. 2013.