The American Wisdom Series


Judges chapter 12

Caution to students of God's Word - Please remember two things when using our studies: #1. Our commentary is not God's Word. It is only our interpretation or understanding of "His Word" and even though we try our best to be accurate we may or may not be correct. #2. The King James translation, or any other translation, of the original Hebrew text has some words which were given different translations at different places probably because of the interpreters preconceived ideas of what they think God meant to say. For example: According to the notes in the "Dake's Annotated Reference Bible" the Hebrew word hayah in the KJV is Trans. (became) 67 times, (becamest or came to pass) 505 times, (become) 66 times, and (come to pass) 131 times, but for some reason in Genesis 1:2 it is translated (was)! That sure changes the way a person perceives the original creation of the earth, doesn't it?  Gen. 1:2 And the earth was (became) without form, ... Having said that, let us continue with our "Key Knowledge" lessons. These are pamphlets containing knowledge, we believe, you must have to fully and accurately unlock and understand the Word of God.

John 15:26
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

John 16:13-14
[13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

This Bible Study was originally written by Roger Christopherson,
published at

You can view it at the season`s web site (address above) as originally published
or here, as now edited by people at
The American Wisdom Series  

Without the leading by the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding of the truths, for all the truth of the Scriptures are revealed to us by God's Spirit.

 Now here is our revised study of:

Judges Chapter 12

"Judges Ebzan, Elon, and Abdon."

Judges 12:1 "And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, "Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire."

The men of Ephraim are upset when they heard that the men of Gilead [Benjamin] had gone to war, and had not asked for assistance for their tribe. Ephraim was one of the larger tribes of the twelve, and they were supposed to be the leader. This is the same thing that these Ephraimites had done to Gideon, when Gideon took only 300 men into battle and had turned their thousand men to return back home, rather then stand and fight. The only difference between Gideon's battle, and the war with the Amorites and Jephthah, was that the Amorites were soundly defeated and the king and his army were completely killed. In Gideon's battle, once the Midinites started to run, the Ephraimites joined in to capture two of the Midianite princes. Ephraim always wants to be the leader over the ten tribes of the house of Israel.

Judges 12:2 "And Jephthah said unto them, "I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands."

Jephthah reminded these men of Ephraim that when the Amorites first came to Gilead and started to suppress them, they did ask Ephraim for help, and Ephraim turned their heads and would not give them any help. We can understand why they would not by the answer that they gave to Jephthah.

Judges 12:3 "And when I saw that ye delivered me no, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the Lord delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?"

Jephthah is saying, I sent word to you, and you would not respond so I turned to the Lord God for deliverance. Did you get that? Jephthah told them that God put the Amorites into my hand and gave me the victory over them. Now that I have the victory, why are you coming to me afterwards. The lesson that the Ephraimites are about to learn, is that you never mess around with a man of God. It doesn't matter how high up you are, or what position you hold, just don't mess with God.

Judges 12:4 "Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said , "Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites."

You give a man a cause to fight, that is exactly what these men of Ephraim had done to the men of Gilead. The men of Ephraim are calling the Gileadites scum, and outcasts from both the tribes of Ephraim and of Manasseh. The word "fugitives" as used here are "men without names" which is another way of calling them "bastards" [mamzar], and sons of harlots from within the tribes. These are fighting words in many areas of our country even today. This is the way that the people of Ephraim looked on the people of Gilead. They were just a little band of outcasts in Ephraim's eyes and why should they send their sons to die for such a kind.

Judges 12:5 "And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, "Let me go over;" that the men of Gilead said unto him, "Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, "Nay;"

The battle started and the Gileadites thumped their gourd really bad, even to the point that the Ephraimites were just trying to find there way back home. However in the battle the men of Gilead took control of the passage ways across the Jordan river. And the men of Gilead killed the men of Ephraim as they came to cross over the river. When a man came to the river and denied that he was a Ephraimite, they gave him a test to pass first.

Judges 12:6 "Then said they unto him, "Say now 'Shibboleth:" " and he said "Sibboleth:" for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand."

"Shibboleth" is a stream in the Hebrew tongue, and they were told to say the word. The tongue of the Ephraimites was different than that of the Gileadites, and they could not pronounce the "sh" sound. This problem for the Ephraimites continues even to today for when you hear a person from England you know automatically that they are not Americans [of Manasseh] but Englishmen [Ephraimites]. Before the conflict ended there were 40 + 2,000 or 2,040 men slaying in the battles.

It was not the custom for the Ephraimites to pronounce the words as the Gileadites, and before they could think of it as a pass word, they had given themselves away. They thought they were asking to cross the stream, and instead they had signed their death warrant. It happens even today in law enforcement, for your identity becomes known of where you come from by the way you speak. If you are in Minnesota and speak with a draw from Mississippi, your tongue gives your identity away.

Judges 12:7 "And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead."

Jephthah judged well and was a good judge. Even though he was an outcaste and an illegitimate child, God chose to use him at that time to rid His people of the Amorites. Jephthah was a mighty man that had the blessings of God.

Judges 12:8 "And after him Ibzan of Beth-lehem judged Israel."

This is not the Bethlehem of Judah were Jesus was born in the manger, but in Beth-leham of Ephraim.

Judges 12:9 "And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons."

It is a matter of where he took those sons from, for his daughters, as to whether it was in God's will or not.

Judges 12:10 "Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Beth-lehem."

This burial site was in Bethlehem of Ephraim, not Judah.

Judges 12:11 "And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years. "

"Elon" in Hebrew means "oak", and he was a pretty solid character. Elon was from the tribe of Zebulun, and Elon judged Israel for ten years. Elon died about 1128 B.C. by our calendar time.

Judges 12:12 "And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the county of Zebulun."

Judges 12:13 "And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel."

"Abdon" was a princely judge from the city of Pirathon.

Judges 12:14 "And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years."

The word "nephews" would be better translated "grandsons" in today's language.

Judges 12:15 "And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites."

This brings us through a string of judges where there was not much written about them. Yet by there names and what is said of them would tell us what we should know about them. More than likely Ibzan, who gave his thirty daughters to thirty foreign men, was not particular in his obedience to following God's word of the law of such matters and that is probably the way he was as a judge also. He probably hung around for the position, title and the money that came from that position.

Where as Abdon with his seventy sons and grandsons riding their territories to judged the land, probably was far more attentive to the laws and instructions of God then was the judge before him or after him. So this now brings us to Samson in the next chapter. Samson will be the thirteenth judge of Israel, when you include Deborah.


Listed by Chapter Number, then Judge:

1 Joshua

1-2 Othniel

3-4 Ehud

4-5 Deborah

5 (last verse) Shamgar

6-8 Gideon [Jurubbaal]

8-9 Abimelech [took by force]

8-9 Jotham

10 Jophthah

12 Ibzan

12 Elon

12 Abdon

13 Sampson


To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.  We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

The American Wisdom Series


Published by:

Rhine Publishing Co.
E-mail address -

Here at the American Wisdom Series our goal is to make you think about and question the wisdom of the current:
doctrine of many of our Christian churches, (The Man on a White Horse)
political direction of our country, (The Man on a Red Horse)
economic direction our country has taken, (The Man on a Black Horse)
 and teaching of our schools and media, (The Man on a Pale Horse)

The Four Hidden Dynasties of the New World Order Revelation 6:1-8
"The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"
Did you know all four are being ridden by Satan?