-Some finishing events in the time of Jephthah’s judging of Israel is summarized as this chapter begins. The men of Ephraim, who are called “fugitives” involving men of both Ephraim and Manasseh that rose up for no apparent good reason to cross over and fight with Gilead. The LORD allowed Gilead to prevail in this conflict that revolved around Jephthah not calling on them to go to war with them against Ammon. The fugitives of Ephraim even threatened to burn down Jephthah’s house on him, but the Gileadite judge could not understand why they had such animosity. He harkened back to a time of “great strife” with the sons of Ammon. When he had called on them to help in that time, they were unwilling to deliver his enemies from his hand with him. Jephthah recounted how he had to take his own life in his hands to cross over against the Ammonites, and it was indeed the LORD who had given them into his hand. It ended up that the Gileadites fought with the fugitives of Ephraim and took the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim as their possession. It happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim wanted to cross over, they would test them with a pronunciation of the word “Shibboleth.” A mispronunciation would reveal their true identity; then, they would seize them and slew them there at the fords of the Jordan. An incredible 42,000 some odd Ephraimites fell at that horrific time in Israel’s history. Brother against brother, a civil conflict of immense proportions. Jephthah ended up judging Israel for six years, died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead (Judges 12:1-7).
-Ibzan of Bethlehem (the city in Zebulun, not the more famous one of Judah where Jesus was born) judged Israel after Jephthah for seven years. He had many sons (30) and daughters (30) that intermarried outside of the family. Nothing more is mentioned of him (Judges 12:8-10).
-Elon, also of Zebulun, judged Israel after Ibzan. He judged Israel for ten years, then died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun (Judges 12:11-12).
-Finally in this litany of judges, we see that Abdon, the son of Hillel the Pirathonite of Ephraim, followed Elon. Abdon had 40 sons and 30 daughters (large family, right?) who rode on 70 donkeys. Abdon judged as ruler for eight years, died, and was buried at Pirathon in the hill country of the Amalekites in the land of Ephraim (Judges 12:13-15).
-*Application* Brotherly conflicts are some of the most agonizing situations to deal with in life. Misunderstandings and miscommunications often get over blown, and then hard feelings develop. Recognize the potential for destructive behavior within our close confines, and do everything we can possibly do to make things better (Romans 12:18). Let the love of Jesus Christ prevail (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8). Only He can truly change a heart.
Verses to Memorize: Judges 12:7, 8, 11, 13