Judges 12:1-7

Jephthah and Ephraim's tribe argue

12:1Ephraim was a strong tribe. They lived on the west side of the Jordan river. Gilead was a region on the east side of the river. At this time, Jephthah was leading the people of Gilead.

1 The men of Ephraim's tribe joined together to make an army. They crossed over the Jordan river to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, ‘Why did you go to fight against the Ammonites without us? You should have asked us to go with you. Now we will burn down your house with you inside it!’

2 Jephthah replied, ‘I did ask for your help! That was when my people and I first had a quarrel with the Ammonites. But you refused to rescue us. 3 When I realized that you would not come to help us, we attacked the Ammonites ourselves. I put my life in danger. But the Lord put the Ammonites under my power. So why have you come to attack me now?’

4 Jephthah brought together all the men of Gilead. They fought against the men of Ephraim's tribe. The men of Gilead won the fight. They were angry because the men of Ephraim had insulted them. They had said, ‘You people of Gilead have run away to live on the land of Ephraim and Manasseh.’

5 After that, Gilead's army put guards at the places where people could go across the Jordan river. They wanted to stop people from Ephraim going across the river. If one of Ephraim's soldiers was trying to escape, they would ask him, ‘Do you belong to Ephraim's tribe?’ The man would say, ‘No, I do not!’

6 Then they would tell him, ‘Say, “Shibboleth!” ’ People from Ephraim could not say that word properly. So if the man said, ‘Sibboleth,’ they would take hold of him and kill him. That day, they killed 42,000 soldiers of Ephraim at those places on the Jordan river.

7 Jephthah led Israel for six years. Then he died and they buried him in his own town in Gilead.