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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Judges 12

Verses 1-6

XII. 1– 6. Civil War between Gilead and Ephraim.— The Ephraimites hankered after the primacy among the tribes. Their amour propre was easily offended, their anger quickly enflamed. Instead of praising God for Jephthah’ s great victory, they were furious because he won it without their aid. They insulted him as they once insulted Gideon, and perhaps expected an equally meek and flattering answer. But Jephthah was a man of a different mould and temper. Hurling a few scathing words at heroes who were brave when the war was over, he presumed, judging from their insolence, that they now wished to fight with him, and he was ready. The result deeply stirs the reader’ s imagination. Led by a general like Jephthah, Gilead was more than a match for Ephraim, and the western tribe was not only put to flight, but found the fords of Jordan guarded to bar their passage. Every man who wished to cross was subjected to a singular test. His life hung on the pronunciation of a sibilant. He was asked to say “ Shibboleth” (ear of corn), and if he said “ Sibboleth,” he was slain there and then. His speech betrayed him. “ So in the Sicilian vespers, March 31, 1282, the French were made to betray themselves by the pronunciation of ceci e ciceri; those who pronounced c as in French ( sesi e siseri) were hewn down on the spot.” (Moore).

Judges 12:4 . The words “ because they said, Ye are fugitives of Mount Ephraim” make no sense in their present position, and probably should stand after “ Jordan” in Judges 12:6. The huge numbers are doubtless the work of R.

Judges 12:7 . The Heb. text “ in the cities of Gilead,” is evidently wrong; the LXX has “ in his city of Gilead.”

Verses 8-15

Judges 12:8-15 . The Three Minor Judges.— Ibzan’ s home was probably Bethlehem in Zebulun ( Joshua 19:15), 7 m. from Nazareth, still called Beit-lahm. For Aijalon we should probably read Elon (so the LXX). Pirathon is perhaps Far’ ata, near Nâ blû s.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Judges 12". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/judges-12.html. 1919.