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Bible Commentaries
Judges 12

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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.

Gathered themselves together - Hebrew were summoned.

And went northward. After crossing the Jordan, their route from Ephraim was, strict speaking, in a northeasterly direction, toward Mizpeh.

And said unto Jephthah, Wherefore ... thou ... didst not call us. This is a fresh development of the jealous, rash, and irritable temper of the Ephraimites. The ground of their offence now was their desire of enjoying the credit of patriotism, although they had not shared in the glory of victory.

Verse 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.

When I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. The straightforward answer of Jephthah shows that their charge was false, their complaint of not being treated as confederates and allies entirely without foundation, and their boast of a ready contribution of their services came with an ill grace from people who had purposely delayed appearing until the crisis was past.

Verse 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?

I put my life in my hands - a common form of speech in the East for undertaking a duty of imminent peril. This Jephthah had done, having encountered and routed the Ammonites, with the aid of his Gileadite volunteers alone; and since the Lord had enabled him to conquer without requiring assistance from any other tribe, why should the Ephraimites take offence? They ought rather to have been delighted, and thankful that the war had terminated without their incurring any labour and danger.

Verse 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.

The men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim. The remonstrances of Jephthah, though reasonable and temperate, were not only ineffectual, but followed by insulting sneers that the Gileadites were reckoned both by the western Manassites and Ephraimites as outcasts, the scum and refuse of their common stock. This was addressed to a specially sensitive people. A feud immediately ensued. The Gileadites, determined to chastise this public affront, gave them battle; and having defeated the Ephraimites, chased their foul-mouthed but cowardly assailants out of the territory; and rushing to the ford of the Jordan-a few miles below the confluence of the Jordan and the Jabbok (Wady Zerka) - intercepted and killed every fugitive. The method adopted for discovering an Ephraimite was by the pronunciation of a word naturally suggested by the place where they stood. "Shibboleth" means a stream, "Sibboleth" a burden. The Eastern tribe had, it seems, a dialectical provincialism in the sound of Shibboleth; and the Ephraimites could not bring their organs to pronounce it.

Verses 5-6

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;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 7

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

Jephthah ... died. After a government of six years this 'mighty man of valour died;' and however difficult it may be for us to understand some passages in his history, he has been ranked by apostolic authority among the worthies of the ancient Church. He was followed by a succession of minor judges, of whom the only memorials preserved relate to the number of their families and their state.

Verse 8

And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

After him Ibzan of Beth-lehem judged Israel. Since Beth-lehem is not followed by the distinguishing term Ephratah or Judah, it is most probable that the northern Beth-lehem is meant-namely, that in the territory of Zebulun (Joshua 19:15). Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 7:, sec. 13) says that, except being the head of a very numerous family, 'he did nothing in the seven years of his administration that was worth recording, or deserved a memorial. So he died an old man, and was buried in his own country.'

Verses 9-10

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

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

After him Elon, a Zebulonite, [ ha-Zªbuwloniy (H2075), the Zebulonite; Septuagint, Ailoom ho Zabouloonitees]. Josephus calls him Helon.

Verse 12

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

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

After him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel, [ `Abdown (H5658) = bªdaan (the `ayin (') being dropped, as was often the case among the Phoenicians, in the word `-b-d, Gesenius), Bedan (1 Samuel 12:11), ha-Pir`aatowniy (H6553), the Pirathonite, from the city Pirathon; supposed by Dr. Robinson to be represented by the modern Ter'ata, six miles or two hours west of Shechem (Nablus) ('Biblical Researches,'

iii.; 'Arab. Lists,' Part 1:, No. 9:); Septuagint, Abdoon ho Farathoonitees]. Of him Josephus says ('Antiquities,'

b. 5:, ch. 7:, sec. 15), 'He is only recorded to have been happy in his children; because the public affairs were then so peaceable and in such security that he had no occasion to perform glorious actions. He had forty sons, and by them left thirty grandchildren; and he marched in state with these seventy, who were all vent skillful in riding horses (ass-colts), and he left them all alive after him. He died an old man, and obtained a magnificent burial in Pirathon.'

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Judges 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/judges-12.html. 1871-8.
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