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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Shibboleth

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Shibboleth. (a stream). Judges 12:6. Shibboleth is the Hebrew word, which the Gileadites, under Jephthah, made use of at the passage of the Jordan, after a victory over the Ephraimites, to test the pronunciation of the sound, "sh", by those who wished to cross over the river. The Ephraimites, it would appear, in their dialect, substituted for "sh", the simple sound "s"; and the Gileadites, regarding every one who failed to pronounce "sh" as an Ephraimite, and therefore an enemy, put him to death accordingly. In this way, there fell 42,000 Ephraimites. There is no mystery in this particular word. Any word beginning with the sound "sh" would have answered equally well as a test.

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Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Shibboleth'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/sbd/s/shibboleth.html. 1901.

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