Judges 12

Civil Strife Mars the Victory

1The Ephraimites assembled
Heb “the men of Ephraim were summoned [or “were mustered”].”
and crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why did you go and fight
Heb “cross over to fight.”
with the Ammonites without asking
Or “calling”; or “summoning.”
us to go with you? We will burn your house down right over you!”
Heb “Your house we will burn over you with fire.”

2 Jephthah said to them, “My people and I were entangled in controversy with the Ammonites.
Heb A man of great strife I was and my people and the Ammonites.”
I asked for your help, but you did not deliver me from their power.
Heb “hand.”
3When I saw that you were not going to help,
Heb “you were no deliverer.” Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the LXX has “no one was helping.”
I risked my life
Heb “I put my life in my hand.”
and advanced against
Heb “crossed over to.”
the Ammonites, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why have you come up
The Hebrew adds “against me” here. This is redundant in English and has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
to fight with me today?”
4Jephthah assembled all the men of Gilead and they fought with Ephraim. The men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because the Ephraimites insulted them, saying,
Heb “because they said.”
“You Gileadites are refugees in Ephraim, living within Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s territory.”
Heb “Refugees of Ephraim are you, O Gilead, in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh.” The LXX omits the entire second half of the verse (beginning with “because”). The words כִּי אָמְרוּ פְּלִיטֵי אֶפְרַיִם (ki amru pelitey efrayim, “because they said, ‘Refugees of Ephraim’”) may have been accidentally copied from the next verse (cf. כִּי יֹאמְרוּ פְּלִיטֵי אֶפְרַיִם, ki yomeru pelitey efrayim) and the following words (“you, O Gilead…Manasseh”) then added in an attempt to make sense of the verse. See G. F. Moore, Judges (ICC), 307–8, and C. F. Burney, Judges, 327. If the Hebrew text is retained, then the Ephraimites appear to be insulting the Gileadites by describing them as refugees who are squatting on Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s land. The present translation assumes that “Ephraim” is a genitive of location after “refugees.”
5The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan River
The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarification.
opposite Ephraim.
Or “against Ephraim,” that is, so as to prevent Ephraim from crossing.
Whenever an Ephraimite fugitive
The Hebrew text has a plural form here.
said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked
Heb “say to.”
him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,”
6then they said to him, “Say ‘Shibboleth!’”
The inability of the Ephraimites to pronounce the word shibboleth the way the Gileadites did served as an identifying test. It illustrates that during this period there were differences in pronunciation between the tribes. The Hebrew word shibboleth itself means “stream” or “flood,” and was apparently chosen simply as a test case without regard to its meaning.
If he said, “Sibboleth” (and could not pronounce the word
Heb “and could not prepare to speak.” The precise meaning of יָכִין (yakhin) is unclear. Some understand it to mean “was not careful [to say it correctly]”; others emend to יָכֹל (yakhol, “was not able [to say it correctly]”) or יָבִין (yavin, “did not understand [that he should say it correctly]”), which is read by a few Hebrew mss.
correctly), they grabbed him and executed him right there at the fords of the Jordan. On that day forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell dead.
7Jephthah led
Traditionally, “judged.”
Israel for six years; then he
Heb “Jephthah the Gileadite.” The proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
died and was buried in his city in Gilead.
The Hebrew text has “in the cities of Gilead.” The present translation has support from some ancient Greek textual witnesses.

Order Restored

8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem
For location see Map5-B1; Map7-E2; Map8-E2; Map10-B4.
Traditionally, “judged.”
9He had thirty sons. He arranged for thirty of his daughters to be married outside his extended family,
Heb “thirty daughters he sent off outside.” Another option is to translate, “He arranged for his thirty daughters…” It is not clear if he had more than the “thirty daughters” mentioned in the text.
and he arranged for thirty young women to be brought from outside as wives for his sons.
Heb “and thirty daughters he brought for his sons from the outside.”
Heb “He”; the referent (Ibzan) has been specified in the translation for clarity and for English stylistic reasons.
Traditionally, “judged.”
Israel for seven years;
10then he
Heb “Ibzan.” The pronoun “he” is used in the translation in keeping with English style, which tends to use a proper name first in a sentence followed by a pronoun rather than vice versa.
died and was buried in Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite led
Traditionally, “judged.”
Israel for ten years.
Heb “…led Israel. He led Israel for ten years.”
12Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried in Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite led
Traditionally, “judged.”
14He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel for eight years. 15Then Abdon son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

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