Judges 12



1 και-C βοαω-VAI-AAI3S ανηρ-N3--NSM *εφραιμ-N---GSM και-C παραερχομαι-VBI-AAI3P εις-P βορεας-N1T-ASM και-C ειπον-VAI-AAI3P προς-P *ιεφθαε-N---ASM δια-P τις- I--ASN παραερχομαι-VBI-AAI2S παρατασσω-VA--AMN εν-P υιος-N2--DPM *αμμων-N---GSM και-C εγω- P--AP ου-D καλεω-VX--XAI2S πορευομαι-VC--APN μετα-P συ- P--GS ο- A--ASM οικος-N2--ASM συ- P--GS ενπιπρημι-VF--FAI1P επι-P συ- P--AS εν-P πυρ-N3--DSN

2 και-C ειπον-VBI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM προς-P αυτος- D--APM ανηρ-N3--NSM μαχητης-N1M-NSM εμος-A1--ASF εγω- P--NS και-C ο- A--NSM λαος-N2--NSM εγω- P--GS και-C ο- A--NPM υιος-N2--NPM *αμμων-N---GSM σφοδρα-D και-C βοαω-VAI-AAI1S συ- P--AP και-C ου-D σωζω-VAI-AAI2P εγω- P--AS εκ-P χειρ-N3--GSF αυτος- D--GPM

3 και-C οραω-VBI-AAI1S οτι-C ου-D ειμι-V9--PAI2S σωτηρ-N3--NSM και-C τιθημι-VAI-AAI1S ο- A--ASF ψυχη-N1--ASF εγω- P--GS εν-P χειρ-N3--DSF εγω- P--GS και-C παραερχομαι-VBI-AAI1S προς-P υιος-N2--APM *αμμων-N---GSM και-C διδωμι-VAI-AAI3S αυτος- D--APM κυριος-N2--NSM εν-P χειρ-N3--DSF εγω- P--GS και-C εις-P τις- I--ASN αναβαινω-VZI-AAI2P επι-P εγω- P--AS εν-P ο- A--DSF ημερα-N1A-DSF ουτος- D--DSF παρατασσω-VA--AMN εν-P εγω- P--DS

4 και-C συνστρεφω-VAI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ο- A--APM πας-A3--APM ανηρ-N3--APM *γαλααδ-N---GSM και-C παρατασσω-VAI-AMI3S ο- A--DSM *εφραιμ-N---DSM και-C πατασσω-VAI-AAI3P ανηρ-N3--NPM *γαλααδ-N---GSM ο- A--ASM *εφραιμ-N---ASM οτι-C ειπον-VAI-AAI3P ο- A--NPM διασωζω-V1--PMPNPM ο- A--GSM *εφραιμ-N---GSM συ- P--NP *γαλααδ-N---NSM εν-P μεσος-A1--DSM ο- A--GSM *εφραιμ-N---GSM και-C εν-P μεσος-A1--DSM ο- A--GSM *μανασση-N---GSM

5 και-C προ καταλαμβανω-VBI-AMI3S *γαλααδ-N---NSM ο- A--APF διαβασις-N3I-NPF ο- A--GSM *ιορδανης-N1M-GSM ο- A--GSM *εφραιμ-N---GSM και-C ειπον-VAI-AAI3P αυτος- D--DPM ο- A--NPM διασωζω-V1--PMPNPM *εφραιμ-N---GSM διαβαινω-VZ--AAS1P και-C ειπον-VAI-AAI3P αυτος- D--DPM ο- A--NPM ανηρ-N3--NPM *γαλααδ-N---GSM μη-D *εφραθιτης-N1M-NSM ειμι-V9--PAI2S και-C ειπον-VBI-AAI3S ου-D

6 και-C ειπον-VAI-AAI3P αυτος- D--DSM ειπον-VB--AAD2S δη-X σταχυς-N3U-NSM και-C ου-D καταευθυνω-VB--AAI3S ο- A--GSN λαλεω-VA--AAN ουτως-D και-C επιλαμβανω-VBI-AMI3P αυτος- D--GSM και-C θυω-VAI-AAI3P αυτος- D--ASM προς-P ο- A--APF διαβασις-N3I-APF ο- A--GSM *ιορδανης-N1M-GSM και-C πιπτω-VAI-AAI3P εν-P ο- A--DSM καιρος-N2--DSM εκεινος- D--DSM απο-P *εφραιμ-N---GSM τεσσαρακοντα-M δυο-M χιλιας-N3D-NPF

7 και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM εξηκοντα-M ετος-N3E-APN και-C αποθνησκω-VBI-AAI3S *ιεφθαε-N---NSM ο- A--NSM *γαλααδιτης-N1M-NSM και-C θαπτω-VDI-API3S εν-P πολις-N3I-DSF αυτος- D--GSM εν-P *γαλααδ-N---DSM

8 και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S μετα-P αυτος- D--ASM ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM *αβαισαν-N---NSM απο-P *βαιθλεεμ-N---GSF

9 και-C ειμι-V9--IAI3P αυτος- D--DSM τριακοντα-M υιος-N2--NPM και-C τριακοντα-M θυγατηρ-N3--NPF ος- --APF εκ αποστελλω-VAI-AAI3S εξω-D και-C τριακοντα-M θυγατηρ-N3--APF ειςφερω-VAI-AAI3S ο- A--DPM υιος-N2--DPM αυτος- D--GSM εξωθεν-D και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM επτα-M ετος-N3E-APN

10 και-C αποθνησκω-VBI-AAI3S *αβαισαν-N---NSM και-C θαπτω-VDI-API3S εν-P *βαιθλεεμ-N---DSF

11 και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S μετα-P αυτος- D--ASM ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM *αιλωμ-N---NSM ο- A--NSM *ζαβουλωνιτης-N1M-NSM δεκα-M ετος-N3E-APN

12 και-C αποθνησκω-VBI-AAI3S *αιλωμ-N---NSM ο- A--NSM *ζαβουλωνιτης-N1M-NSM και-C θαπτω-VDI-API3S εν-P *αιλωμ-N---DSM εν-P γη-N1--DSF *ζαβουλων-N---GSM

13 και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S μετα-P αυτος- D--ASM ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM *αβδων-N---NSM υιος-N2--NSM *ελληλ-N---GSM ο- A--NSM *φαραθωνιτης-N1M-NSM

14 και-C ειμι-V9--IAI3P αυτος- D--DSM τεσσαρακοντα-M υιος-N2--NPM και-C τριακοντα-M υιος-N2--GPM υιος-N2--NPM επιβαινω-V1--PAPNPM επι-P εβδομηκοντα-M πωλος-N2--APM και-C κρινω-VAI-AAI3S ο- A--ASM *ισραηλ-N---ASM οκτω-M ετος-N3E-APN

15 και-C αποθνησκω-VBI-AAI3S *αβδων-N---NSM υιος-N2--NSM *ελληλ-N---GSM ο- A--NSM *φαραθωνιτης-N1M-NSM και-C θαπτω-VDI-API3S εν-P *φαραθωμ-N---DS εν-P γη-N1--DSF *εφραιμ-N---GSM εν-P ορος-N3E-DSN ο- 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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