The Rev. Doug Griebenaw, pastor and Mission Advocate at KFUO Radio, joins the Rev. Dr. Phil Booe to study Judges 12.
After defeating the Ammonites, Jephthah faces a new threat: the angry men of Ephraim who feel left out of the battle. Jephthah defends himself by saying that he did call them, but they did not come. Unpersuaded, they go to battle. The Gileadites set up a blockade and devise a clever test to identify any men from Ephraim who try to cross. They make them speak a particular hard-to-say word: shibboleth. The plan works and 42,000 Ephraimites die at the hands of Jephthah’s army. Jephthah dies after six years of judging Israel and three more judges follow him: Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon.
The Book of Judges tells the story of Israel’s descent into chaos and idolatry, and the subsequent rise of a series of judges, or redeemers, who deliver them from their enemies. The judges are flawed heroes, but they are also instruments of God’s deliverance. The book ends with the Israelites in a state of moral and spiritual decay, but it also offers hope for a better future.
Thy Strong Word, hosted by Rev. Dr. Phil Booe, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church of Luverne, MN, reveals the light of our salvation in Christ through study of God’s Word, breaking our darkness with His redeeming light. Each weekday, two pastors fix our eyes on Jesus by considering Holy Scripture, verse by verse, in order to be strengthened in the Word and be equipped to faithfully serve in our daily vocations.
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Jephthah’s Conflict with Ephraim
12 The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house over you with fire.” 2 And Jephthah said to them, “I and my people had a great dispute with the Ammonites, and when I called you, you did not save me from their hand. 3 And when I saw that you would not save me, I took my life in my hand and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.” 5 And the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,” 6 they said to him, “Then say Shibboleth,” and he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 of the Ephraimites fell.
7 Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in his city in Gilead.[a]
Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon
8 After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.
11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
- Judges 12:7 Septuagint; Hebrew in the cities of Gilead
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. esv.org