Old Testament Commentary - Judges 12

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
            CHAPTER 12              

Gileadites slay 42,000 Ephraimites—Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, and Dbdon each in turn judge Israel.

  1 AND the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee?a we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
  2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great astrife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.
  3 And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my alife in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?
 1a didst not call us to go with thee? It is difficult, in this time of the rule of men—the Lord having withdrawn himself, to judge whether any righteousness did prevail in such as Jephthah who would sacrifice his only daughter because of his own vain sworn oath in the name of God, or in those of Ephraim. For they all had drifted from the Lord to worship other gods, and after the Lord said he would NOT deliver them, they attempted to repent but took the honors of the leading of men upon themselves as men and not upon the arm of the Lord. And it would seem most proper to view what was done to those of Ephraim by those of Gilead in this light. That is they were acting in their own pride, the pride of Ephraim who presumed leadership and the pride of Gilead under such as Jephthah.
  4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.
  5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
  6 Then said they unto him, Say now aShibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.
  7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
  8 ¶ And after him Ibzan of Beth-lehem judged Israel.
  9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent aabroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.
  10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Beth-lehem.
  11 ¶ And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.
  12 And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.
  13 ¶ And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.
  14 And he had forty sons and thirty anephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.
  15 And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.