King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Judges 12

Ephraimites quarrel with Jephthah. (1-7) Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judge Israel. (8-15)

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Ephraimites quarrel with Jephthah

1 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.

2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

3 And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.

5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

6 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.

7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon judge Israel

8 And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.

10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.

12 And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.

14 And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.

15 And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Sedition. Heb. “the men of Ephraim shouted together” to arms. — North. Sept. “Sephena.” The Heb. may either signify north, or some city. Mont. — It is probable that Ephraim went to quarrel with Jepthe at Abel, before he had returned to Maspha. C. — House. Heb. and Sept. add, “with or upon thee.” M.

Ver. 2. Strife, to defend our property. — I called. Drusius doubts whether he sent an express invitation to Ephraim, otherwise how durst they assert that they had not been summoned? C. — But we may rather give credit to Jephte. The condition of the nation was a sufficient invitation, as they knew that the greatest preparations were making for war on both sides, and it was their duty to come forward. H.

Ver. 3. Hands exposed to all sorts of danger. I resolved to defend myself to the utmost, 1 K. xix. 6. Eccles. x. 2. C.

Ver. 4. Fugitive. Vile and timid, so that his brethren around him might destroy him at any time. M. — Galaad dwelt in the midst of the descendants of Joseph. H. — But Ephraim, in despite, had represented him as an outcast. Their envy deserved to be severely punished. C. — The same passion had nearly excited them to make war upon Gedeon. C. viii. M.

Ver. 6. Letter. Prot. “Say now Shibboleth, and he said Sibboleth, for he could not frame to pronounce it right.” The interpretation of the first word is added by S. Jerom, (H.) and denotes also “a running water;” (M.) whereas the Ephraimites pronounced a word which signifies “a burden,” not being able to utter properly sh, or schin, for which the substituted s, or samec, sobloth. H. — In the same natioin, a variety of pronunciation frequently distinguishes the inhabitants of the different provinces. The Galileans were thus known from the rest of the Jews. Mat. xxvi. 23.

Ver. 7. His city. Maspha, in the country of Galaad. C. xi. 34. C. — Heb. “in the cities;” whence the Rabbins have idly conjectured, that parts of his body were interred in different cities out of respect, or that they rotted off, in punishment of the sacrifice of his daughter. Munster. — Grotius compares Jepthe with the renowned Viriatus. His character, both in peace and war, deserves the highest commendations; and in many respects, he was a striking figure of Jesus Christ. C. — The uncertainty of his birth, and the subsequent persecution which he endured from his brethren, foreshewed the deformity of the synagogues, and the conduct of the Jews (H.) towards their Messias, from whom alone they could expect salvation. Hence they are forced to have recourse to him, as the Israelites found themselves under a necessity of recalling Jepthe to lead them on to victory. Those who refused obedience to him, were deservedly exterminated, as the faithless Jews were by the arms of the Romans. Whether the daughter of Jepthe was immolated, or only consecrated to God, we may discover in her person a figure of the death and of the resurrection of our Saviour, who voluntarily made a sacrifice of his human nature to the justice of his father. See S. Aug. q. 49. Serar. q. 26. C.

Ver. 8. Bethlehem of Juda, where Booz also was born. C. — The Rabbins make him the same person with Abesan. Serar. q. 5. — Maldonat (in Mat. ii. 1,) believes that this judge was of a city in Zabulon. Jos. xix. 15. M. — In the 6th year of Abesan, the Philistines compelled the Israelites to pay tribute, (C. xiii. 1,) and Samson was born A. 2860. Salien.

Ver. 9. House, or family, though perhaps not under the same roof. M.

Ver. 11. Ahialon. Eusebius calls him Adon, and his successor Labdon. C. — Salien says that he entirely omits the 10 years of Ahialon’s administration, though his name occurs in the body of the Chronicle, as being in the Heb. and not in the Sept. H.

Ver. 13. Illel. Josephus reads “the son or servant of Helon,” whom some have confounded with Ahialon, though contrary to the Hebrew. C. — The author supposes that Abdon reigned in peace. But it seems that he and the two others preceding him in the government of the people, were forced to purchase rest by paying tribute. Salien, A.C. Christ 1193.

Ver. 14. Forty sons. At this we need not be surprised, in a country where polygamy prevailed. Priam had 50 sons, and the Turks have often as many. — Colts. This was as great a distinction as to keep one’s coach among us. C. x. 4. C. — This judge succeeded Ahialon, A. 2872, A.C. 1182, the year after Troy was taken, having endured a ten years’ siege, by the treachery of Antenor, and of ├ćneas, Dictys, &c. Dares says the Greeks lost 886,000, and the Trojans 676,000, before the city was taken. Salien.

Ver. 15. Amalec. The situation of this mountain, as well as of the town of Pharathon, is unknown. Some have supposed that Amalec had formerly had possession of this country. C. v. 14. Sept. Alex. reads “Mount Lanak.” But this place occurs no where else, and other copies agree with the Vulgate. H. — Amarias, who entered upon the pontificate the same year that Heli was born, died after a reign of 39 years, A. 2879, and left the care of the people to Achitob and Samson for 20 years. Salien.