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Bible Commentaries
Judges 12

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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. — Heb., Were called; sc., by Jephthah, as Judges 12:2 , but came too late. Post bellum auxilium, so some understand it. Others, that these Ephraimites desirous of vain glory, provoking their brethren and envying them, as Galatians 5:26 , tumultuarily met to pick a quarrel and make war upon Jephthah and his Gileadites, whom they insolently revile and threaten. "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who can stand before envy?" Proverbs 27:4 The venom of all vices is found in that sharpfanged malignity.

And went northward. — Toward Mizpeh of Gilead; called the wood of Ephraim, 2 Samuel 18:6 from the slaughter of these Ephraimites there, as it is likely, and afterwards Iturea, and Trachoniti, that is, Rough and Rocky.

Wherefore passedst thou over to fight? — See Judges 8:1 , where they quarrelled in like sort with Gideon, who pacified them with good words; but here they showed themselves implacable, as being ripe for ruin.

We will burn thy house upon thee with fire. — Here was to good Jephthah aliud ex alio malum, a succession of sorrows. He was newly returned from his expedition against the Ammonites, was brought very low, or greatly bowed downward by his only daughter’s unhappy coming forth to meet him. Qui liberis caret, pro mortuo habetur. And now he is necessitated to fight with them, who should with all thankfulness have congratulated his victory. Crosses seldom come single. Catenata piorum crux. Of Queen Elizabeth it is reported, that she provided for war when she was at most perfect peace with all men: so should we do.

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.

And Jephthah said unto them. — Apologies are lawful, and in stone cases needful: the primitive Christians, as Tertullian, Athenagoras, and others, offered their apologies to the Roman emperors to very good purpose.

And when I called you. — Which yet they denied. Judges 12:1 Proud and spiteful people make little of a lie. See Judges 11:13 .

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. — I hazarded it to loss, and set as light by it as a boy doth by a bird, which he holdeth loose in his open hand. See Judges 9:17 . The Hebrew here hath it, I put my life in my palm.

Wherefore then are ye come up against me this day? — Are ye weary of receiving so many benefits by one man? as Themistocles asked his ungrateful countrymen. But this is the world’s wages; and those that have best deserved of the publics must look for no better, but only from God.

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.

Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead. — When he saw they were set upon it, and that they would needs quarrel with their friends, and not with their faults, he set light by their threats, Minorum strepitus armorum crepitus and resolved to chastise their insolency with the edge of the sword. When there is no hope of curing, men must fall to cutting. Immedicabile vulnus ense recidendum.

Ye Gileadites are fugitives. — Or, the Gileadites being got between the Ephraimites and Manassites, the Ephraimites said, Ye are but the fugitives of Ephraim. Or, Abjects, mongrels, the refuse of both tribes: a brand of dishonour, and therefore heinously taken, and heavily revenged. Such opprobrious and reviling speeches, Leviter volant, non, leviter violant. Jephthah and his soldiers might haply here be glanced at, because he was forced to flee from his father’s house.

Among the Ephraimites,q.d., The scum of those two noble tribes, fellows of no fashion. But the meanest are not to be slighted; since

A cane non magno saepe tenetar aper.

Verse 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;

Before the Ephraimites. — Who were now become a woeful example of that rule, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

If he said, Nay. — As most men will do in such a case, rather lie than die; which yet they should not do, but resolve with that good woman in Jerome, when she was upon the rack, Non ideo negare volo, ne peream: sed ideo mentiri nolo, ne peccem. Lie I will not, but prefer affliction before sin.

Verse 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.

Say now Shibboleth, and he said Sibboleth. — Shibboleth est fluxus fluminis, ut Psalms 69:2-3 , a stream, or ford. They were discerned by their lisping, their dialect betrayed them. Sic et hodieque in Hispaniac voce "Cebolla ," cepam significante, facile agnoscunt qui exteri sint, quique incolae. How many have we that can hardly lisp out a syllable of good language, and if they attempt it, falter fearfully!

Verse 7

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

And was buried in one of the cities of Gilead. — Heb., In the cities; whereupon some have founded a conceit that Jephthah was so esteemed for his valour, that they cut his body in pieces when he was dead, and carried a part to each of their cities, and there buried it. Peter Martyr by "cities" understandeth some one city so called, as Accius called Athens Quatrurbem.

Verse 8

And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

Ibzan of Bethlehem.Hic dicitur fuisse Boaz, saith Vatablus. This some will have to be Boaz, the husband of Ruth, the Moabitess, and great-grandfather of King David. But this is a conjecture only.

Verse 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.

Thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad. — Providing fit matches for them in due time; which is the father’s duty, since there is in most people a propensity to the nuptial conjunction. The man misseth his rib, and the woman would be in her old place again, under the man’s arm or wing. "My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee" - that is, a husband - "that it may be well with thee?" Ruth 3:1

Verse 10

Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.

And was buried at Bethlehem. — Where he had done worthily, and was therefore bewailed. Contrarily, of King Edwin it is said, that he lived wickedly, died wishedly.

Verse 11

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

Judged Israel ten years. — Maintaining the purity of God’s true worship, and administering justice to the people. Not to "do good among a man’s people," is to "die in his iniquity." Ezekiel 18:18

Verse 12

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

And was buried in Aijalon. — Where the moon stood still. Joshua 10:12

Verse 13

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

Judged Israel. — See Judges 12:11 .

Verse 14

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

And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode.Equestris ordinis, potent and opulent. In Persia the peasant never rides; the gentleman never goes on foot, but fights, trades, confers, doth all on horseback. The Preacher’s Travels, 63.

Verse 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.

And was buried in Pirathon. — Where Benaiah, David’s worthy, was born: and God loveth the places the better for that such and such of his servants were "born there." Psalms 87:4-6

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 12". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-12.html. 1865-1868.
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