"The Ephraimites, not being called upon to share in the rich spoils
Ephraimites, being of a different tribe, could not frame to
Then the Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites
. Whenever one of the fugitives of Ephraim said, 'Let me go over,' the men of Gilead would say to him, 'Are you an Ephraimite
?' When he said, 'No,' they said to him, "Then say Shibboleth,' and he said, 'Sibboleth,' for he could not pronounce it right.
with you it will come to pass as with the Ephraimites
of old, who were
His reference is to the incident recorded in the Book of Judges, chapter twelve, when the Gileadites slaughter the Ephraimites
who could not pronounce correctly the word "shibboleth" (Judges 12:56).
yet another myth, which speaks about the Ephraimites
, whose dialect lacked a 'sh' sound, and the Gileadites, whose dialect did include such a sound.
The Gileadites had defeated the Ephraimites
in battle and were" holding some narrow places on the Jordan River that the fleeing Ephraimites
had to cross to get home.
The quote above describing the Biblical account of the battle between the Ephraimites
and the Gileadites illustrates how pronunciation of one word, changed by the omission of the "h," sound served to identify escaping Ephraimites
who claimed to be Gileadites in order to escape death.
In the ensuing conflict, Jephthah's men slaughter 42,000 Ephraimites
, showing no mercy even to those attempting to flee (12:1-6).
The dialect of their enemies, the Ephraimites
, did not include a "sh"sound, so those who pronounced it "sibboleth" were killed.
But the Gileadites got the upper hand and put the Ephraimites
In Judges 12:6 the writer recounts how the password Shibboleth was used by the sentries of Gilead to detect boundary crossings by Ephraimites
. The Ephraimites
were unable to say the word and were thus reckoned as outsiders.