The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Judges 12

Jdg 12:1

"The loss of his daughter was not the only trial Jephthah had to face at this time of victory. The men of Ephraim were known throughout Israel for their sense of self-importance. Taking undue pride in the precedence assigned to their tribe in Jacob's prophetic blessing on Joseph's younger son, they never lost an opportunity to assert what they deemed to be their primacy in Israel. Even with Joshua, himself a man of Ephraim, they had shown themselves cantankerous and greedy of territory (Josh 17:14), so that it had called for much forbearance and tact on Joshua's part in the handling of their selfish complaint. Gideon had had to face the same problem. Instead of applauding his heroism, stamina and skill in routing the Midianites, they childishly complained that they had been ignored in the rally and struggle for liberty.

"Jephthah had to face the same unreasonable spirit. Angry at being left in the background when glorious victories were being won by such an upstart leader, the Ephraimites gathered in force and crossed Jordan into Gilead. Possibly, too, they felt it unwise to allow a man such as Jephthah to become too powerful, for then their own dominance of central Israel might be challenged" (WJR).

Jdg 12:4

The Ephraimites taunted the Gileadites: 'You are fugitives (debtors, criminals) who fled from us.' This might have some basis in fact.

Jdg 12:6

When the men of Ephraim turned to flee, Jephthah with quick foresight detailed off squads of men to travel swiftly to the fords of Jordan. It was Ehud's coup de grace over again (Jdg 3:28). Yet in his fairness Jephthah strictly forbad them to slay any except the men of Ephraim who should fall into their hands there (for the fords of Jordan were always busy with travelers other than Ephraimites).

Evidently there was some local trick of speech characteristic of the men of Ephraim which enabled a rough and ready discrimination to be made between them and others. Cp Peter, betrayed by his Galilean accent (Mat 26:73).

FORTY-TWO THOUSAND: See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

Jdg 12:7

IN A TOWN IN GILEAD: "In his own city" (LXX).

Jdg 12:13

ABDON: Or "Bedan" (1Sa 12:11), by an easy and understandable distortion.

Jdg 12:15

THE HILL COUNTRY OF THE AMALEKITES: Probably so named from Jdg 7:12,24,25.

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