Judges 12 (NIV)
Jephthah and Ephraim
1 The men of Ephraim called out their forces, crossed over to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without calling us to go with you? We’re going to burn down your house over your head.”
2 Jephthah answered, “I and my people were engaged in a great struggle with the Ammonites, and although I called, you didn’t save me out of their hands. 3 When I saw that you wouldn’t help, I took my life in my hands and crossed over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave me the victory over them. Now why have you come up today to fight me?”
The people of Ephraim seem to be simply chronic complainers; they gave a similar response to Gideon in Judges 8:1-3 (see below). When they had a chance to step out boldly for God they did not do it. Yet when the work was done and God was glorified, they complained that they didn’t get to participate.
4 Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, “You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh.” 5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” 6 they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ ” He said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan.
Yes, that “sh” sound!
(notes from your friendly English teacher!)
~”Shibboleth” is the word for stream. It was pronounced differently on the two sides of the Jordan.
~There are at least 13 spellings in English for the “sh” sound: shoe, sugar, ocean, issue, nation, anxious, suspicion, nauseous, conscious, session, chef, mansion, fuchsia.
~The name for Jesus in Hebrew is “Yeshua” (ye-SHOO-a). What happened to the orignal “sh” sound in his name? Well, it comes to English first through Greek and then through Latin. Since Greek has no “y,” the name was transliterated as “Iesous” (ee-ay-SUS). But in Latin, that initial “i” can be pronounced as a “j.” In addition, since Greek has no “sh” sound, that sound was written as an “s,” which in English can also be pronounced as a “z.” And since Greek male names often ended with an “s,” the Greek translators added the final “s” to the name, which was carried over into Latin and English. (And this is only the consonants!)
Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.
These Ephraimites were cranky guys!
Four chapters ago, Gideon had trouble with the same boys, but he gave them a softer answer and pacified them.
Judges 8:1-3 (NLT)
Then the people of Ephraim asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us this way? Why didn’t you send for us when you first went out to fight the Midianites?” And they argued heatedly with Gideon.
But Gideon replied, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t even the leftover grapes of Ephraim’s harvest better than the entire crop of my little clan of Abiezer? God gave you victory over Oreb and Zeeb, the commanders of the Midianite army. What have I accomplished compared to that?” When the men of Ephraim heard Gideon’s answer, their anger subsided.
Jephthah, on the other hand, did not tolerate their insults: 42,000 fellow Israelites dead.
7 Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in a town in Gilead.
Hebrews 11:32-33 (NLT)
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them.
Ibzan, Elon and Abdon
8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel. 9 He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his daughters away in marriage to those outside his clan, and for his sons he brought in thirty young women as wives from outside his clan. Ibzan led Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died, and was buried in Bethlehem.
11 After him, Elon the Zebulunite led Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon died, and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13 After him, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, led Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon son of Hillel died, and was buried at Pirathon in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
many children and many donkeys = much wealth
What the Donkey Saw
by U. A. Fanthorpe
No room in the inn, of course,
And not that much in the stable
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary,
Joseph, the heavenly host –
Not to mention the baby
Using our manger as a cot.
You couldn’t have squeezed another cherub in
For love or money.
Still, in spite of the overcrowding,
I did my best to make them feel wanted.
I could see the baby and I
Would be going places together.
What a wonderful turn of phrase — that Christ “and I would be going places together”! That “I did my best” for him!
HERE is “The Friendly Beasts” sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. An utterly charming rendition!