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Judges Chapter Twelve(ESV)

Jephthah’s Conflict with Ephraim

1 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.



  1. Jephthah’s unfaithfulness results in a legacy of violence within both his own family and the larger Israelite family, as a bloody civil war claims the lives of forty-two thousand Ephraimites. Consequently, there is no “rest” for the land.  Persistent unfaithfulness and disobedience yield increasingly violent and chaotic results as Judges proceeds.
  2. Open today’s newspaper or browse a few news websites, try to make a count of the number of reports on war, murder, robbery for one day. What’s the difference between the society we are in today and that of the era of the Judges?  Why is it that despite of the progress in science, medicine, economics, social development and education in the past few thousands of years, our world is still full of violence, oppression and suffering?
  3. Though the Israelites often rebelled against God, God in his unchanging love and mercy has always been with them and deliver them—when they turned and called out to Him for help. This was their hope then, and this is our hope today.



But You, LORD, are a shield around me,   my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. (Ps 3:3-6)