Judges 12: Shibboleth

Any “West Wing” fans out there?

My wife and I have been working our way through the show since the summer. If only every president could be Josiah Bartlett. Sigh.

Anyway, there is a particularly good episode where a group of Chinese refugees comes to the U.S. due to religious persecution. The president and his staff must determine if they truly are here because of persecution or if they are just faking it.

Bartlett talks about a certain story from Judges. He needs to find some way for them to prove themselves.

So I was all excited to discover that Judges 12 was the chapter where that story was found! Get ready to be inspired, people!

Only, after reading it, I was way more depressed. This isn’t an inspiring story at all.

Get ready for a downer, people!


So Jephthah and his clan just had an awesome victory over the Ammonites. But the battle was barely over when Ephraim came marching out with swords at the ready.

“You didn’t let us fight! We’re going to kill you!”

I kid you not, that is basically what they say.

Is that not the stupidest reason to start an armed conflict? Not to mention with a foe that is from your own people?! Seriously!

Not that Israel should ever be fighting with itself, but if they are going to, could they at least do it because one tribe stole all the kids from another? Or someone poisoned the Jordan? Or one tribe was turning to idolatry?

But this? Dumb. Dumb. DUMB!

“Sh” or “Ss”

Jephthah and the Gileadites (great band name) win. I’m not surprised. It has to be hard to rally the troops around, “they didn’t let us play with them! Let’s get’em!”

Then Gilead blocks the fords of the Jordan, making it difficult for anyone from Ephraim to cross. When one of the “fugitives of Ephraim” tries to cross, the Gileadite soldiers would make him say a password: Shibboleth. 

The key is in the pronunciation. 

You can correctly get that initial “sh” sound right? You may pass.

Can’t? We’ll run you through with a sword. Simple as that.

How Did We Get Here?

What a sad state of affairs.

As if Israel didn’t have enough problems with other nations harassing them, now they are fighting each other.

It’s a good thing the people of God don’t do that anymore. Yessir, we have done away with silly infighting and litmus tests, thank you very much!

Did anyone else notice that the only reference to God in this chapter was about something he had already done?

Maybe this is a subtle way of telling us, “Look at this. This is what can happen when you forget.”

One response

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