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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
Shib´boleth. The word means a stream or flood, and was hence naturally suggested to the followers of Jephthah, when, having seized the fords of the Jordan to prevent the retreat of the defeated Ephraimites, they sought to distinguish them through their known inability to utter the aspirated sound sh. The fugitives gave instead the unaspirated s, sibboleth, on which they were slain without mercy (). The certainty which was felt that the Ephraimites could not pronounce sh, is very remarkable, and strongly illustrates the varieties of dialect which had already arisen in Israel, and which perhaps even served to distinguish different tribes, as similar peculiarities distinguish men of different counties with us. If what is here mentioned as the characteristic of a particular tribe had been shared by other tribes, it would not have been sufficiently discriminating as a test.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Shibboleth'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/s/shibboleth.html.