Judges 12



1 καί-C βοάω-VAI-AAI3S ἀνήρ-N3--NSM *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM καί-C παραἔρχομαι-VBI-AAI3P εἰς-P βορέας-N1T-ASM καί-C εἶπον-VAI-AAI3P πρός-P *ιεφθαε-N---ASM διά-P τίς- I--ASN παραἔρχομαι-VBI-AAI2S παρατάσσω-VA--AMN ἐν-P υἱός-N2--DPM *αμμων-N---GSM καί-C ἐγώ- P--AP οὐ-D καλέω-VX--XAI2S πορεύομαι-VC--APN μετά-P σύ- P--GS ὁ- A--ASM οἶκος-N2--ASM σύ- P--GS ἐνπίπρημι-VF--FAI1P ἐπί-P σύ- P--AS ἐν-P πῦρ-N3--DSN

2 καί-C εἶπον-VBI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM πρός-P αὐτός- D--APM ἀνήρ-N3--NSM μαχητής-N1M-NSM ἐμός-A1--ASF ἐγώ- P--NS καί-C ὁ- A--NSM λαός-N2--NSM ἐγώ- P--GS καί-C ὁ- A--NPM υἱός-N2--NPM *αμμων-N---GSM σφόδρα-D καί-C βοάω-VAI-AAI1S σύ- P--AP καί-C οὐ-D σώζω-VAI-AAI2P ἐγώ- P--AS ἐκ-P χείρ-N3--GSF αὐτός- D--GPM

3 καί-C ὁράω-VBI-AAI1S ὅτι-C οὐ-D εἰμί-V9--PAI2S σωτήρ-N3--NSM καί-C τίθημι-VAI-AAI1S ὁ- A--ASF ψυχή-N1--ASF ἐγώ- P--GS ἐν-P χείρ-N3--DSF ἐγώ- P--GS καί-C παραἔρχομαι-VBI-AAI1S πρός-P υἱός-N2--APM *αμμων-N---GSM καί-C δίδωμι-VAI-AAI3S αὐτός- D--APM κύριος-N2--NSM ἐν-P χείρ-N3--DSF ἐγώ- P--GS καί-C εἰς-P τίς- I--ASN ἀναβαίνω-VZI-AAI2P ἐπί-P ἐγώ- P--AS ἐν-P ὁ- A--DSF ἡμέρα-N1A-DSF οὗτος- D--DSF παρατάσσω-VA--AMN ἐν-P ἐγώ- P--DS

4 καί-C συνστρέφω-VAI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ὁ- A--APM πᾶς-A3--APM ἀνήρ-N3--APM *γαλαάδ-N---GSM καί-C παρατάσσω-VAI-AMI3S ὁ- A--DSM *ἐφράιμ-N---DSM καί-C πατάσσω-VAI-AAI3P ἀνήρ-N3--NPM *γαλαάδ-N---GSM ὁ- A--ASM *ἐφράιμ-N---ASM ὅτι-C εἶπον-VAI-AAI3P ὁ- A--NPM διασώζω-V1--PMPNPM ὁ- A--GSM *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM σύ- P--NP *γαλαάδ-N---NSM ἐν-P μέσος-A1--DSM ὁ- A--GSM *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM καί-C ἐν-P μέσος-A1--DSM ὁ- A--GSM *μανασσή-N---GSM

5 καί-C προ καταλαμβάνω-VBI-AMI3S *γαλαάδ-N---NSM ὁ- A--APF διάβασις-N3I-NPF ὁ- A--GSM *ἰορδάνης-N1M-GSM ὁ- A--GSM *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM καί-C εἶπον-VAI-AAI3P αὐτός- D--DPM ὁ- A--NPM διασώζω-V1--PMPNPM *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM διαβαίνω-VZ--AAS1P καί-C εἶπον-VAI-AAI3P αὐτός- D--DPM ὁ- A--NPM ἀνήρ-N3--NPM *γαλαάδ-N---GSM μή-D *εφραθίτης-N1M-NSM εἰμί-V9--PAI2S καί-C εἶπον-VBI-AAI3S οὐ-D

6 καί-C εἶπον-VAI-AAI3P αὐτός- D--DSM εἶπον-VB--AAD2S δή-X στάχυς-N3U-NSM καί-C οὐ-D καταεὐθύνω-VB--AAI3S ὁ- A--GSN λαλέω-VA--AAN οὕτως-D καί-C ἐπιλαμβάνω-VBI-AMI3P αὐτός- D--GSM καί-C θύω-VAI-AAI3P αὐτός- D--ASM πρός-P ὁ- A--APF διάβασις-N3I-APF ὁ- A--GSM *ἰορδάνης-N1M-GSM καί-C πίπτω-VAI-AAI3P ἐν-P ὁ- A--DSM καιρός-N2--DSM ἐκεῖνος- D--DSM ἀπό-P *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM τεσσαράκοντα-M δύο-M χιλιάς-N3D-NPF

7 καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM ἑξήκοντα-M ἔτος-N3E-APN καί-C ἀποθνήσκω-VBI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ὁ- A--NSM *γαλααδίτης-N1M-NSM καί-C θάπτω-VDI-API3S ἐν-P πόλις-N3I-DSF αὐτός- D--GSM ἐν-P *γαλαάδ-N---DSM

8 καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S μετά-P αὐτός- D--ASM ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM *αβαισαν-N---NSM ἀπό-P *βαιθλεεμ-N---GSF

9 καί-C εἰμί-V9--IAI3P αὐτός- D--DSM τριάκοντα-M υἱός-N2--NPM καί-C τριάκοντα-M θυγάτηρ-N3--NPF ὅς- --APF ἐκ ἀποστέλλω-VAI-AAI3S ἔξω-D καί-C τριάκοντα-M θυγάτηρ-N3--APF εἰςφέρω-VAI-AAI3S ὁ- A--DPM υἱός-N2--DPM αὐτός- D--GSM ἔξωθεν-D καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM ἑπτά-M ἔτος-N3E-APN

10 καί-C ἀποθνήσκω-VBI-AAI3S *αβαισαν-N---NSM καί-C θάπτω-VDI-API3S ἐν-P *βαιθλεεμ-N---DSF

11 καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S μετά-P αὐτός- D--ASM ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM *αιλωμ-N---NSM ὁ- A--NSM *ζαβουλωνίτης-N1M-NSM δέκα-M ἔτος-N3E-APN

12 καί-C ἀποθνήσκω-VBI-AAI3S *αιλωμ-N---NSM ὁ- A--NSM *ζαβουλωνίτης-N1M-NSM καί-C θάπτω-VDI-API3S ἐν-P *αιλωμ-N---DSM ἐν-P γῆ-N1--DSF *ζαβουλων-N---GSM

13 καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S μετά-P αὐτός- D--ASM ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM *αβδων-N---NSM υἱός-N2--NSM *ελληλ-N---GSM ὁ- A--NSM *φαραθωνίτης-N1M-NSM

14 καί-C εἰμί-V9--IAI3P αὐτός- D--DSM τεσσαράκοντα-M υἱός-N2--NPM καί-C τριάκοντα-M υἱός-N2--GPM υἱός-N2--NPM ἐπιβαίνω-V1--PAPNPM ἐπί-P ἑβδομήκοντα-M πῶλος-N2--APM καί-C κρίνω-VAI-AAI3S ὁ- A--ASM *ἰσραήλ-N---ASM ὀκτώ-M ἔτος-N3E-APN

15 καί-C ἀποθνήσκω-VBI-AAI3S *αβδων-N---NSM υἱός-N2--NSM *ελληλ-N---GSM ὁ- A--NSM *φαραθωνίτης-N1M-NSM καί-C θάπτω-VDI-API3S ἐν-P *φαραθωμ-N---DS ἐν-P γῆ-N1--DSF *ἐφράιμ-N---GSM ἐν-P ὄρος-N3E-DSN ὁ- A--GSM *αμαληκ-N---GSM

Exploring the Meaning of Judges 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.


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.


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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