Pastoral Commentary for Judges 12-13
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
The story of Jepthah concludes with a sad account of what amounted to civil war between the tribe of Ephraim and the Gileadites led by Jepthah. Members of the tribe of Ephraim accused Jephthah of stealing glory for himself by fighting the Ammonites on his own. They threatened to kill him and a battle ensued. Sadly, 42,000 men of the tribe of Ephraim died in the struggle, all because of sinful pride. When the Gileadites had conquered and controlled the fords over the Jordan River, they would not let any Ephraimites pass. If someone falsely claimed that they were not of the tribe of Ephraim, the men of Gilead asked them to say the word "shibboleth." The strong "sh" sound at the beginning of the word gave them away and cost them their life. In a similar way, Peter's accent gave him away as a man of Galilee and follower of Jesus when he tried to escape detection in the courtyard of the High Priest. Three judges briefly mentioned include Ibzan, Elon and Abdon. The birth of Israel's next judge was a miraculous answer to prayer, like that of Isaac before him, and Samuel after him. The angel of the LORD came to the barren wife of Manoah, telling her that she would have a child and that the child was to be a Nazirite. The fact that Manoah's wife had to observe the regulations of the Nazirite vow during her pregnancy shows that the life of the child begins at conception. Manoah himself didn't hear the announcement, and prayed for the angel to return. When God answered his prayer, Manoah asked the angel His name. He told him that His name was "Wonderful" and beyond understanding, the very name given to the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. The angel ascended back up to heaven in the flame of the offering that Manoah made to God. The promise of the angel was kept and Manoah's wife gave birth to Samson.