Judges 12:6
Parallel Verses
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.

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.

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.

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.

Judges 12:6 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Say now Shibboleth; and he said Sibboleth - The original differs only in the first letter ס samech, instead of ש sheen; אמר נא שבלת ויאמר סבלת emar na Shibboleth, vaiyomer Sibboleth. The difference between ש seen, without a point, which when pointed is pronounced sheen, and ס samech, is supposed by many to be imperceptible. But there can be no doubt there was, to the ears of a Hebrew, a most sensible distinction. Most Europeans, and, indeed, most who have written grammars of the language, perceive scarcely any difference between the Arabic seen and saad; but as both those letters are radical not only in Arabic but in Hebrew, the difference of enunciation must be such as to be plainly perceivable by the ear; else it would be impossible to determine the root of a word into which either of these letters entered, except by guessing, unless by pronunciation the sounds were distinct. One to whom the Arabic is vernacular, hearing a native speak, discerns it in a moment; but the delicate enunciation of the characteristic difference between those letters ש seen and ס samech, and seen and saad, is seldom caught by a European. Had there been no distinction between the seen and samech but what the Masoretic point gives now, then ס samech would not have been used in the word סבלת sibboleth, but ש seen, thus שבלת: but there must have been a very remarkable difference in the pronunciation of the Ephraimites, when instead of שבלת shibboleth, an ear of corn, (see Job 24:24), they said סבלת sibboleth, which signifies a burden, Exodus 6:6; and a heavy burden were they obliged to bear who could not pronounce this test letter. It is likely that the Ephraimites were, in reference to the pronunciation of sh, as different from the Gileadites as the people in some parts of the north of England are, in the pronunciation of the letter r, from all the other inhabitants of the land. The sound of th cannot be pronounced by the Persians in general; and yet it is a common sound among the Arabians. To this day multitudes of the German Jews cannot pronounce ת th, but put ss in the stead of it: thus for בית beith (a house) they say bess. Mr. Richardson, in his "Dissertation on the Languages, Literature, and Manners of the Eastern Nations," prefixed to his Persian and Arabic Dictionary, p. ii., 4th. edition, makes some observations on the different dialects which prevailed in Arabia Felix, the chief of which were the Hemyaret and Koreish; and to illustrate the point in hand, he produces the following story from the Mohammedan writers: "An envoy from one of the feudatory states, having been sent to the tobba, (the sovereign), that prince, when he was introduced, pronounced the word T'heb, which in the Hemyaret implied, Be seated: unhappily it signified, in the native dialect of the ambassador, Precipitate thyself; and he, with a singular deference for the orders of his sovereign, threw himself instantly from the castle wall and perished." Though the Ephraimites had not a different dialect, they had, it appears, a different pronunciation, which confounded, to others, letters of the same organ, and thus produced, not only a different sound, but even an opposite meaning. This was a sufficient test to find out an Ephraimite; and he who spake not as he was commanded, at the fords of Jordan, spoke against his own life.

For he could not frame to pronounce it right - This is not a bad rendering of the original ולא יכין לדבר כן velo yachin ledabber ken; "and they did not direct to speak it thus." But instead of יכין yachin, to direct, thirteen of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., with two ancient editions, read יבין yabin; "they did not understand to speak it thus." The versions take great latitude in this verse. The Vulgate makes a paraphrase: Dic ergo Shibboleth, quod interpretatur spica: qui respondebat Sibboleth; eadem litera spicam exprimere non valens. "Say therefore, Shibboleth; which interpreted is an ear of corn: but he answered, Sibboleth; not being able to express an ear of corn by that letter." In my very ancient copy of the Vulgate, probably the editio princeps, there is sebboleth in the first instance as the test word, and thebboleth as the Ephraimite pronunciation. But cebboleth is the reading of the Complutensian Polyglot, and is supported by one of my own MSS., yet the former reading, thebboleth, is found in two of my MSS. The Chaldee has שובלתא shubbaltha for the Gileaditish pronunciation, and סבלתא subbaltha for that of Ephraim. The Syriac has shelba and sebla. The Arabic has the same word, with sheen and seen; and adds, "He said Sebla, for the Ephraimites could not pronounce the letter sheen." These notices, however trivial at first view, will not be thought unimportant by the Biblical critic.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Say now.

Matthew 26:73 And after a while came to him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely you also are one of them; for your speech denudes you.

Mark 14:70 And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilaean...

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 waters, where the floods overflow me...

Isaiah 27:12 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river to the stream of Egypt...

Shibboleth. also means an ear of corn

Job 24:24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other...

and sibboleth signifies a burden.

Exodus 6:6 Why say to the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians...

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 leave off contention, before it be meddled with.

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

Ecclesiastes 10:12 The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation...

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

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

2040 and not

42,000. At the last census of the Israelites

Numbers 26:37 These are the families of the sons of Ephraim according to those that were numbered of them, thirty and two thousand and five hundred...

the whole tribe of Ephraim only amounted to

32,500 compared with which this last number appears far too great.

Library
Jesus Calls Four Fishermen to Follow Him.
(Sea of Galilee, Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IV. 18-22; ^B Mark I. 16-20; ^C Luke V. 1-11. ^a 18 And walking ^b 16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus]
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Cross References
Judges 12:5
The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the men of Gilead asked him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" If he replied, "No,"

Judges 12:7
Jephthah led Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in a town in Gilead.

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