March 13, 2008
Breadcrumb: Tongue twisters
After Jephthah defeats the Ammonites, he has to face a civil war with the Ephraimites, who are insulted that Jephthah didn't call them when he faced the oppressors. Ephraim decides to take out their aggression on Gilead, so Jephtah fights them and kills many. Ephram says that the men of Gilead are no longer welcome within its borders, so Jephtah blocks the passages across the Jordan and kills any Ephraimite who tries to cross it, to the tune of 42,000 people. (Ephraim's lands were west of the Jordan, Gilead's east.) How did Jephthah identify the Ephraimites? By making them say the word "Shibboleth," which apparently the Ephraimites couldn't pronounce properly due to local dialect. This might be the first recorded case in the Bible where people die for their accents.