사사기 12

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1 에브라임 사람들이 모여 북으로 가서 입다에게 이르되 `네가 암몬 자손과 싸우러 건너 갈 때에 어찌하여 우리를 불러 너와 함께 가게 하지 아니하였느냐 ? 우리가 반드시 불로 너와 네 집을 사르리라'

2 입다가 그들에게 이르되 `나와 나의 백성이 암몬 자손과 크게 다툴 때에 내가 너희를 부르되 너희가 나를 그들의 손에서 구원하지 아니하므로

3 내가 너희의 구원치 아니하는 것을 보고 내 생명을 돌아보지 아니하고 건너가서 암몬 자손을 쳤더니 여호와께서 그들을 내 손에 붙이셨거늘 너희가 어찌하여 오늘날 내게 올라와서 나로 더불어 싸우고자 하느냐 ?' 하고

4 입다가 길르앗 사람을 다 모으고 에브라임과 싸웠더니 길르앗 사람들이 에브라임을 쳐서 파하였으니 이는 에브라임의 말이 너희 길르앗 사람은 본래 에브라임에서 도망한 자로서 에브라임과 므낫세중에 있다 하였음이라

5 길르앗 사람이 에브라임 사람 앞서 요단 나루턱을 잡아 지키고 에브라임 사람의 도망하는 자가 말하기를 `청컨대 나로 건너게 하라 하면 그에게 묻기를 네가 에브라임 사람이냐' 하여 그가 만일 `아니라' 하면

6 그에게 이르기를 십볼렛이라 하라 하여 에브라임 사람이 능히 구음을 바로 하지 못하고 씹볼렛이라면 길르앗 사람이 곧 그를 잡아서 요단 나루턱에서 죽였더라 그 때에 에브라임 사람의 죽은 자가 사만 이천명이었더라

7 입다가 이스라엘 사사가 된지 육년이라 길르앗 사람 입다가 죽으매 길르앗 한 성읍에 장사되었더라

8 그의 뒤에는 베들레헴 입산이 이스라엘의 사사이었더라

9 그가 아들 삼십과 딸 삼십을 두었더니 딸들은 타국으로 시집 보내었고 아들들을 위하여는 타국에서 여자 삼십을 데려왔더라 그가 이스라엘 사사가 된지 칠년이라

10 입산이 죽으매 베들레헴에 장사되었더라

11 그의 뒤에는 스불론 사람 엘론이 이스라엘의 사사가 되어 십년 동안 이스라엘을 다스렸더라

12 스불론 사람 엘론이 죽으매 스불론 땅 아얄론에 장사되었더라

13 그의 뒤에는 비라돈 사람 힐렐의 아들 압돈이 이스라엘의 사사이었더라

14 그에게 아들 사십과 손자 삼십이 있어서 어린 나귀 칠십필을 탔었더라 압돈이 이스라엘의 사사가 된지 팔년이라

15 비라돈 사람 힐렐의 아들 압돈이 죽으매 에브라임 땅 아말렉 사람의 산지 비라돈에 장사되었더라


Exploring the Meaning of 사사기 12      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 12: Jephthah’s conflict with Ephraim; Ibzan, Elon and Abdon.

After Jephthah’s victory over the Ammonites, the men of Ephraim came to Jephthah, demanding to know why he hadn’t asked them to join the battle. Jephthah answered that when his people had struggled against Ammon in the past, Ephraim had not answered their calls for help.

Jephthah and Ephraim went to war over this dispute, and Ephraim was defeated. Jephthah’s men, the men of Gilead, stood by the fords of the Jordan to catch fleeing Ephraimites. When a man asked to cross, they would tell him to say “Shibboleth”. The men who pronounced the word as “Sibboleth” were from Ephraim, and were put to death. In total, forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed in the war.

Jephthah died after judging Israel for six years, and was buried in Gilead.

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The spiritual meaning of Ephraim is to understand the truths of the Word. Wherever Ephraim is referenced in a negative sense, as in this chapter, the spiritual meaning becomes an understanding of the Word which has been destroyed. The Word commands us to live by what we understand and believe; in this story, Ephraim did not heed Jephthah’s words (see Swedenborg’s work, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture 79[3]).

The escaping Ephraimites were exposed by their accent, as they could not pronounce the ‘sh’ sound of “Shibboleth”. The letter ‘h’ stands for the genuine truth of the Word, which is the love of the Lord and for the neighbour. A purely intellectual understanding of the Word fails to comprehend this living heart that makes the Word what it is, and consequently, can only say “Sibboleth” (see Swdenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 4280).

The Word tells us that forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed - that seems an colossal number of casualties! But the Word does not report facts from a historical standpoint; it presents living truths, even in numbers. Forty-two is six multiplied by seven, so its spiritual meaning can be understood as a combination of both numbers. In the creation story, the Lord worked for six days and rested on the seventh. This idea relates to our regeneration, which involves our struggles during temptation, as well as the peace that comes from spiritual growth. The fact that the number of casualties was in the thousands emphasizes the significance of the spiritual meaning (Arcana Caelestia 8539[2]).

Jephthah judged Israel six years. The number six here carries the same meaning of conflict and work during temptation. The temptation in this chapter would be to understand the Word purely in an intellectual or dead way (Ephraim in a bad sense), rather than living by the truths it teaches.

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After Jephthah, there were three minor judges of Israel. The first was Ibzan, who gave away thirty daughters to marry abroad, and brought in thirty foreign daughters for his thirty sons. The Bible does not tell us any more about Ibzan, except the curious fact that he came from Bethlehem. It’s uncertain whether this is the same town where the Lord would be born, or another town of the same name.

Ibzan, whose name means ‘illustrious’, stands for a generous and willing spirit, able to take in new perspectives and to share his blessings with others. This concept is called mutual love, which is a key quality of heaven (Arcana Caelestia 2738).

The next judge, Elon, came from Zebulun, and led Israel for ten years. Even these few details that we learn about him present a sense of integrity in their spiritual meanings: his name means an ‘oak’, a tree which is associated with nobility, strength, and longevity, each of which are fitting qualities of a leader; he came from Zebulun, which represents the unity of good and truth (Arcana Caelestia 4592[13]); and the number ten (the number of years that he judged Israel) symbolizes completeness, and also our spiritual ‘remains’ (see Sweenborg’s work, Doctrine of Life 56).

The third and final judge, Abdon, had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy young donkeys. Abdon’s name means “to serve”, which is the third spiritual principle after love and truth. To serve is to offer our life to God through charity toward others. A young donkey represents the untamed level of our lives before regeneration, which needs spiritual care (Arcana Caelestia 5084[8]).

These last three ‘minor’ judges remind us of the qualities which guard against the next major opponent of Israel: the Philistines, who represent faith without regard to charity or good works.

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