Judges 12

Jephthah fights against Ephraim

1 The men of Ephraim joined together. They crossed over to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, ‘Why did you go to fight the Ammonites without us? You should have asked us to go with you. We are going to burn down your house.’

2 Jephthah answered, ‘When my people and I were fighting against the Ammonites, I asked for your help. But you did not come to save us. 3 When I saw this, I crossed over to fight the Ammonites without you. I was afraid that I would die. But the Lord helped me to win. Why have you now come to fight me?’

4 Jephthah asked the men of Gilead to come to him. They fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites won the fight. They were angry because the men of Ephraim had said, ‘You are bad men. We sent you away from Ephraim and Manasseh’.

5 The Gileadites guarded the places where the men of Ephraim would cross the river Jordan. They asked a man who returned from the fight, ‘Are you an Ephraimite, (man of Ephraim)?’

6 If he replied, ‘No,’ they said, ‘Then, say “Shibboleth.”’ He might say, ‘Sibboleth,’ because Ephraimites could not say, ‘Shibboleth.’ Then they would kill him, by the river. 42,000 Ephraimites were killed at that time.

7 Jephthah led Israel for 6 years. Then he died and they buried him in a town in Gilead.

Ibzan, Elon and Abdon

8 After him, Ibzan of Bethlehem led Israel. 9 He had 30 sons and 30 daughters. He let his daughters marry men of other big families. He brought 30 young women from other families to be wives for his sons. He led Israel for seven years.

10 Then Ibzan died and they buried him in Bethlehem.

11 After him, Elon from Zebulun led Israel for 10 years. 12 Then Elon died, and they buried him in Aijalon. This was in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him, Abdon, son of Hillel, led Israel. He came from Pirathon. 14 He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons. They rode on 70 donkeys. He led Israel for 8 years. 15 Then Abdon, son of Hillel, died. They buried him at Pirathon in Ephraim. This is the hill country of the Amalekites.

12:15We do not know where all the towns were. But we know that this chapter is about the Israelites who lived east of the Jordan. Ephraim was a strong tribe. They lived west of the Jordan. We do not know why they wanted to fight with Gilead. They should have been happy that Gilead had fought the Ammonites and won.