Please say Shibboleth

Judges - 1

Please say Shibboleth

Judges 12:1-7 (JDV)

Judges 12:1 The men of Ephraim were called together and crossed the Jordan to Zaphon. They said to Jephthah, “Why have you crossed over to fight against the Ammonites but haven’t called us to go with you? We should burn your house with you in it!”
Judges 12:2 Then Jephthah said to them, “My people and I had a bitter dispute with the Ammonites. So I called for you, but you didn’t rescue me from their power.
Judges 12:3 When I saw that you weren’t going to rescue me, I grasped my throat and crossed over to the Ammonites, and Yahveh handed them over to me. Why then have you come today to fight against me?”
Judges 12:4 Then Jephthah gathered all of the men of Gilead. They fought and struck down Ephraim, because Ephraim had said, “You Gileadites are Ephraimite fugitives in the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh.”
Judges 12:5 The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the Gileadites asked him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he answered, “No,”
Judges 12:6 they told him, “Please say Shibboleth.” If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce it correctly, they seized him and executed him at the fords of the Jordan. At that time forty-two thousand from Ephraim fell.
Judges 12:7 Jephthah judged Israel six years, and when he died, he was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

Please say Shibboleth

Today a Shibboleth can be a community-wide password, or a common expression with little behind it. But for the Gileadites, the Shibboleth was the determiner between friend or foe. It marked a civil war between two factions in Israel — a sad day for God’s people.

I wish I could say there are no such factions and divisions in Christendom today, but that is manifestly untrue. We often pit ourselves against others who claim the same Savior. Sometimes our disagreements are warranted. But I hope that we can learn to be more gentle with each other.

LORD, may our love for you lead us to love others who call on your name.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at marmsky@gmail.com -- !
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