“They would tell him to say ‘Shibboleth.’ If he was from Ephraim, he would say ‘Sibboleth,’ because people from Ephraim cannot pronounce the word correctly.” (Judges 12:6a)
In this chapter, the Ephraimites got their nose out of joint because Jephthah didn’t invite them along to the battle against the Ammonites. Jephthah told them he did invite them, but when they didn’t respond, he went anyway. This was the second time Ephraim was offended at a judge. They complained against Gideon for the same reason! So in their warfare, 42,000 Ephraimites lost their lives. This was the first time that war broke out amongst fellow Israelites, and so there was disunity in the camp. (There was almost another one before in Joshua, when all Israel came out against the eastern tribes, thinking they were rebelling against the Lord, but that was settled.) After all this describes the next three judges; Ibzan from Bethlehem judged for seven years; Elon of Zebulun judged ten years and Abdon from Pirathon judged for eight years.
During this time of unrest between Gilead and Ephraim, Jephthah’s men captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan, and whenever an Ephraimite tried to cross, they would test him by asking him to say a word- Shibboleth. If he was an Ephraimite, he would naturally pronounce it as “Sibboleth,” and was killed. This was a simple test to know if it was their enemy or not. If one is from Germany, he stands out in Australia and would be easy to test him on words! It is the same in the kingdom of God. The Apostle John tells us to “test the spirits, whether they are of God.” Think about it, Ephraim and Gilead were both Jews and were very similar in their speech, but they knew certain differences in their dialects that gave them away. A person may say all the right things a christian would, but Jesus said “by their fruit you shall know them.” The test in 1 John is that if a person confesses that Jesus came in the flesh, he is of God, if not, he is not. Also, 1 Corinthian 12 states that no one can say by the Spirit of God that Jesus is accursed, nor can he say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Spirit of God. Out of the abundance of the heart one shall speak and reveal his true nature, and the fruit of one’s life will come out. An imposter can hide only so long before he is found out. So make sure you test the spirits by doing it the way the Word tells us to. Don’t just trust anyone, test them first, especially before using them in any sort of ministry.
“Father, thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit for discerning the wolves in sheep’s clothing when they come and the Word of God to test them and reveal what they really are. Thank You that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in the pulling down of strongholds, in Jesus’ name, amen!”
*Matt 7:15-20; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 4:1-6