Judges 12:6
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New International Version
they said, "All right, say 'Shibboleth.'" If he said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.

New Living Translation
they would tell him to say "Shibboleth." If he was from Ephraim, he would say "Sibboleth," because people from Ephraim cannot pronounce the word correctly. Then they would take him and kill him at the shallow crossings of the Jordan. In all, 42,000 Ephraimites were killed at that time.

English Standard Version
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.

New American Standard Bible
then they would say to him, "Say now, 'Shibboleth.'" But he said, "Sibboleth," for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim.

King James Bible
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
they told him, "Please say Shibboleth." If he said, "Sibboleth," because he could not pronounce it correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time 42,000 from Ephraim died.

International Standard Version
they would order him, "Pronounce the word 'Shibboleth' right now." If he said "Sibboleth," not being able to pronounce it correctly, they would seize him and slaughter him there at the fords of the Jordan River. During those days 42,000 descendants of Ephraim died that way.

NET Bible
then they said to him, "Say 'Shibboleth!'" If he said, "Sibboleth" (and could not pronounce the word correctly), they grabbed him and executed him right there at the fords of the Jordan. On that day forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell dead.

New Heart English Bible
then they said to him, "Now say 'Shibboleth;'" and he said "Sibboleth"; for he couldn't manage to pronounce it right: then they seized him, and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time of Ephraim forty-two thousand.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
they would tell him, "Say the word [shibboleth]." If the fugitive would say [sibboleth], because he couldn't pronounce the word correctly, they would grab him and kill him at the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. At that time 42,000 men from Ephraim died.

JPS Tanakh 1917
then said they unto him: 'Say now Shibboleth'; and he said 'Sibboleth'; for he could not frame to pronounce it right; then they laid hold on him, and slew him at the fords of the Jordan; and there fell at that time of Ephraim forty and two thousand.

New American Standard 1977
then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim.

Jubilee Bible 2000
then they would say unto him, Now say Shibboleth. {Heb. a flowing stream}. And he would say Sibboleth; {Heb. an ear of wheat}; for he could not pronounce it the same. Then they would take him and slay him at the passages of the Jordan. And at that time forty-two thousand of those of Ephraim fell.

King James 2000 Bible
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the fords of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

American King James Version
Then said they to him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

American Standard Version
then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right: then they laid hold on him, and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. And there fell at that time of Ephraim forty and two thousand.

Douay-Rheims Bible
They asked him: Say then, Scibboleth, which is interpreted, An ear of corn. But he answered, Sibboleth, not being able to express an ear of corn by the same letter. Then presently they took him and killed him in the very passage of the Jordan. And there fell at that time of Ephraim two and forty thousand.

Darby Bible Translation
Then they said to him, Say now Shibboleth! and he said, Sibboleth, and did not manage to pronounce [it] rightly. Then they took him, and slaughtered him at the fords of the Jordan. And there fell at that time of Ephraim forty-two thousand.

English Revised Version
then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right; then they laid hold on him, and slew him at the fords of Jordan: and there fell at that time of Ephraim forty and two thousand.

Webster's Bible Translation
Then said they to him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan. And there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

World English Bible
then they said to him, "Now say 'Shibboleth;'" and he said "Sibboleth;" for he couldn't manage to pronounce it right: then they laid hold of him, and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time, forty-two thousand of Ephraim fell.

Young's Literal Translation
that they say to him, 'Say, I pray thee, Shibboleth;' and he saith, 'Sibboleth,' and is not prepared to speak right -- and they seize him, and slaughter him at the passages of the Jordan, and there fall at that time, of Ephraim, forty and two chiefs.
Study Bible
Jephthah Defeats Ephraim
5The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead would say to him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he said, "No," 6then they would say to him, "Say now, 'Shibboleth.'" But he said, "Sibboleth," for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42000 of Ephraim. 7Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.…
Cross References
Judges 12:5
The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead would say to him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he said, "No,"

Judges 12:7
Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
Treasury of Scripture

Then said they to him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

Say now.

Matthew 26:73 And after a while came to him they that stood by, and said to Peter, …

Mark 14:70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said …

Shibboleth. which signifieth a stream, or flood

Psalm 69:2,15 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep …

Isaiah 27:12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off …

Shibboleth. also means an ear of corn

Job 24:24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; …

and sibboleth signifies a burden.

Exodus 6:6 Why say to the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring …

and a heavy burden they were obliged to bear who could not pronounce this test letter. It is well known that several nations cannot pronounce certain letters. The sound of th cannot be pronounced by the Persians, no more than by some of our Continental neighbours; though it is a common sound among the Arabians. To this day, many of the German Jews cannot articulate th, for which they substitute ss; thus for baith, a house, they say baiss. there fell.

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is as when one lets out water: therefore …

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their …

Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool …

Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided …

Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not …

forty. Arbaim ooshenayim Aleph. `forty and two thousand.' and many mean simple addition; and this number may denote

Numbers 26:37 These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those …

the whole tribe of Ephraim only amounted to

(6) Say now Shibboleth.--The word means "ford;" (Psalm 69:2) "depth of waters;" (Judges 12:15) "water flood;" (Isaiah 27:12) "channel." The LXX. render it (Cod. B) "an ear of corn" ( Vulg., quod interpretatur spica), and the word might have this meaning also (as it has in Genesis 41:5), because the root from which it is derived means both "to flow" and "to spring." In the Alexandrian MS. of the LXX. the rendering is, "Tell us then the watchword;" but that is rather an explanation than a translation.

And he said Sibboleth.--

"And how ingrateful Ephraim

Had dealt with Jephthah--who by argument

Not worse than by his shield and spear

Defended Israel from the Ammonite

Had not his prowess quelled their pride

In that sore battle where so many died,

Without reprieve, adjudged to death

For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth."

Milton, Sams. Agon. 282-289.

The word Shibboleth has become a proverb for the minute differences which religious parties thrust into exaggerated prominence, and defend with internecine ferocity. In this instance, however, the defective pronunciation was not the reason for putting men to death, but only the sign that the man is an Ephraimite. In theological warfare the differences of watchword or utterance have sometimes been the actual cause of the hatred and persecution; and sometimes the two opposing parties have been in agreement in every single essential fact, but have simply preferred other formul to express it, which has failed to cause any diminution in the fierceness of opinions. "It was," says South, "the very shibboleth of the party, nothing being so much in fashion with them as the name, nor more out of fashion, and out of sight too, as the thing itself" (Sermons, 6:128).

For he could not frame to pronounce it right.--This is a most singular circumstance, and it is one which, if it stood alone, would have decisive weight in the question of chronology. Nothing is more natural or more analogous with common linguistic phenomena than that differences of dialect and pronunciation should develop themselves between tribes divided by the deep barrier of the Jordan valley; and these differences would arise all the more rapidly if the Eastern tribes were powerfully subjected to Syrian and other foreign influences. (Comp. Nehemiah 13:24.) Still, it must have required a certain lapse of time before a difference so marked as the inability of the Western tribes to pronounce the letter sh could have arisen ( Vulg., edem litera spicam exprimere non valens). Cassel quotes an interesting parallel from the war of the Flemish against the French. On May 25, 1802, all the French were detected by their inability to pronounce the words Scilt ende friend. In the LXX. and Vulg. Shibboleth could not be reproduced, because the sound sh is unknown in Greek and Latin. Hence the LXX. use stachus, "wheat-ear," for Shibboleth, and leave out Sibboleth altogether.

Slew him.--We might wish that the meaning were that assigned to the word by the Arabic version, "they led him across." The word means, rather, massacred, butchered; Vulg., jugulabant. (Comp. Jeremiah 39:6.) The LXX. render it "sacrificed"--almost as though each Ephraimite were regarded as a human sacrifice.

Forty and two thousand.--This immense slaughter effectually reduced the strength and arrogance of this overweening tribe. It is not, of course, meant that 42,000 were butchered at the fords, but only that that was the number of the invading army, or the number of those who fell in the campaign.

Verse 6. - Say now Shibboleth, etc. We have thus, as it were, accidentally preserved to us a curious dialectical difference between the Ephraimites and the inhabitants of Gilead. A similar difference exists at the present day between the pronunciation of the inhabitants of different parts of Germany. What the Hanoverians call stein, a stone, the other Germans call shtein. Shibboleth means both an ear of corn and a stream. Forty and two thousand. It is possible that the war between Jephthah and the Ephraimites may have lasted a considerable time, though only the single incident of the slaughter at the fords of Jordan is mentioned, so that the large number of 42,000 men may be less improbable than it seems at first sight. There is, however, always some doubt as to the correctness of numbers (see 1 Samuel 6:19). Then said they unto him, say now "Shibboleth",.... Which signifies a stream or course of water, at which they now were; and so it was as if they had bid them say,"may I, or let me, pass over the stream of this river;''so Jarchi; and this being the case, though it was done to try them, and by their pronunciation learn whether they were Ephraimites or not, they were not upon their guard, but in an hurry, and at once expressed the word as they commonly did:

and he said, sibboleth; pronouncing the letter "shin" as if it was "sin", or a "samech"; just as the French, as Kimchi observes, pronounce "s" like a "t"; and though the Gileadites and Ephraimites were of the same nation of Israel, and spoke the same language, yet their pronunciation differed, as did that of the Galilean Jews from others in the times of Christ, Matthew 26:73, and so in all nations, among the Greeks, Romans, and among ourselves, people in different counties pronounce in a different manner; which Kimchi thinks was in the Ephraimites owing to the air or climate, as the French, he observes, pronounce "s" as a "t", with a soft and gentle sound:

for he could not frame to pronounce it right; or "thus" (t), as he was bid to do; being used to pronounce otherwise, he could not frame the organs of speech, or so dispose and order them as to say "shibboleth"; or he did not frame, order, and dispose (u); he was not careful to do it, though with some care he could, being not aware of the design of the Gileadites in it:

then they took him and slew him at the passages of Jordan; everyone as they came thither, who could not say "shibboleth"; these they suffered not to pass over, but slew them:

and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand; not at the passages of Jordan only; but what fell there, with those at the battle, and in the pursuit, amounted to this number; so that the Ephraimites paid dearly for their pride and insolence.

(t) "sic", Pagninus, Montanus. (u) "non dirigebat", Montanus. 12:1-7 The Ephraimites had the same quarrel with Jephthah as with Gideon. Pride was at the bottom of the quarrel; only by that comes contention. It is ill to fasten names of reproach upon persons or countries, as is common, especially upon those under outward disadvantages. It often occasions quarrels that prove of ill consequence, as it did here. No contentions are so bitter as those between brethren or rivals for honour. What need we have to watch and pray against evil tempers! May the Lord incline all his people to follow after things which make for peace!
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Alphabetical: All and at because But correctly could Ephraim Ephraimites fell for fords Forty-two he him If it Jordan killed not now of pronounce right said say seized Shibboleth Sibboleth slew that the then there they thousand Thus time to were word would

OT History: Judges 12:6 Then said they to him Say now (Jd Judg. Jdg) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools
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