Judges 12

Chapter 12

Shibboleth Murders. 1 The Ephraimites gathered together and they traveled northward to Jephthah and they said, “Why did you go out to fight against the Ammonites and you did not summon us to go with you? We are going to set your house on fire!”

2 Jephthah answered, “I and the people who were with me fought a great battle against the Ammonites, and although I summoned you, you did not deliver me out of their hands. 3 When I realized that you would not help me, I put my life in my hands and crossed over to fight against the Ammonites. It is the Lord who delivered them into my hands. Why have you come here today to fight against me?” 4 Jephthah then summoned the Gileadites and they fought against the Ephraimites. The Gileadites struck down the Ephraimites, because the Ephraimites had said, “You Gileadites are nothing more than refugees from Ephraim and Manasseh.”

5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan that lead to Ephraim. When one of the survivors of the Ephraimites said, “Let us cross over,” the Gileadites said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he replied, “No,” 6 then they said to him, “Say Shibboleth.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly, they would seize him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed.

7 Jephthah was a judge over Israel for six years. Jephthah the Gileadite died, and he was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

Ibzan.[a] 8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem was a judge over Israel. 9 He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He gave his thirty daughters away in marriage to those outside of his clan, and he took in thirty young women from outside of his clan for his sons to marry. Ibzan was a judge over Israel for seven years. 10 When Ibzan died, he was buried in Bethlehem.

11 Elon. After him, Elon the Zebulunite was a judge over Israel for ten years. 12 When Elon the Zebulunite died, he was buried in Aijalon of Zebulun.

13 Abdon. After him, Abdon, the son of Hillel, the Pirathonite was a judge over Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. He was a judge over Israel for eight years. 15 When Adbon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite, died, he was buried in Pirathon in the land of the Ephraimites in the hill country of the Amalekites.


  1. Judges 12:8 The judgeships of Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon over the next 25 years are briefly mentioned. As we move further away from the Israelites’ initial entry into the Promised Land, the less we hear of any spiritual leaders among them.

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