This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap.
Chapter twelve records another sad turn of events in the wake of Israel’s victory over the Ammonites. As they had done with Gideon (chapter eight), the Ephraimites picked a fight with Jephthah, because he had not invited them to join the battle (Judges 12:1-7). He responded that he had requested their help, but they did not come, so he attacked Ammon without them. (Whether this is true is unknown, because the passage did not record it.) So Jephthah attacked Ephraim for their insolence and defeated them. Stationing a blockade at the Jordan River pass, Jephthah’s men used the Ephraimites’ inability to pronounce the “sh” sound to kill any who tried to escape. Jephthah died after leading Israel for six years.
The rest of this short chapter lists three more judges from various places in Israel but with little detail. “Ibzan of Bethlehem” had at least sixty children and led Israel for seven years (Judges 12:8-10). “Elon the Zebulunite” ruled for ten years. Finally, Abdon from Pirathon led for eight years and had a total of seventy sons and grandsons who assisted him.