The Ephraim Tribe Fights Jephthah's Army
1The men of the Ephraim tribe got together an army and went across the Jordan River to Zaphon to meet with Jephthah. They said, “Why did you go to war with the Ammonites without asking us to help? Just for that, we're going to burn down your house with you inside!”
2“But I did ask for your help,” Jephthah answered. “That was back when the people of Gilead and I were having trouble with the Ammonites, and you wouldn't do a thing to help us. 3So when we realized you weren't coming, we risked our lives and attacked the Ammonites. And the Lord let us defeat them. There's no reason for you to come here today to attack me.”
4But the men from Ephraim said, “You people of Gilead are nothing more than refugees from Ephraim. You even live on land that belongs to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.”#12.4 You people of Gilead … Ephraim and Manasseh: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
So Jephthah called together the army of Gilead, then they attacked and defeated the army from Ephraim. 5The army of Gilead also posted guards at all the places where the soldiers from Ephraim could cross the Jordan River to return to their own land.
Whenever one of the men from Ephraim would try to cross the river, the guards would say, “Are you from Ephraim?”
“No,” the man would answer, “I'm not from Ephraim.”
6The guards would then tell them to say “Shibboleth,” because they knew that people of Ephraim could say “Sibboleth,” but not “Shibboleth.”
If the man said “Sibboleth,” the guards would grab him and kill him right there. Altogether, 42,000 men from Ephraim were killed in the battle and at the Jordan.
7Jephthah was a leader#12.7 leader: See 2.16 and the note there. of Israel for six years, before he died and was buried in his hometown Mizpah#12.7 his hometown Mizpah: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. in Gilead.
8Ibzan, the next leader#12.8 leader: See 2.16 and the note there. of Israel, came from Bethlehem. 9He had 30 daughters and 30 sons, and he let them all marry outside his clan.
Ibzan was a leader for seven years, 10before he died and was buried in Bethlehem.
11Elon from the Zebulun tribe was the next leader#12.11 leader: See 2.16 and the note there. of Israel. He was a leader for ten years, 12before he died and was buried in Aijalon that belonged to the Zebulun tribe.
13-15Abdon the son of Hillel was the next leader#12.13-15 leader: See 2.16 and the note there. of Israel. He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons, and each one of them had his own donkey.#12.13-15 each … donkey: A sign that the family was wealthy. Abdon was a leader for eight years, before he died and was buried in his hometown of Pirathon, which is located in the part of the hill country of Ephraim where Amalekites used to live.
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