Chapter 12: Yiftach battles Efraim & The judges of the next generations

Chapter 12: Yiftach battles Efraim & The judges of the next generations

1. Efraim wages war against Yiftach:

  • The tribe of Efraim threatens Yiftach, and to burn down his home: The [entire[1]] people of Efraim came to the north [where Yiftach lived[2]] and confronted Yiftach saying that he had no right to [be self-appointed as leader[3] and] go wage war against Amon without also calling upon the tribe of Efraim to go with them. They threatened to burn down the house of Yiftach [and kill Yifatch[4] in retribution].
  • The reply of Yiftach: Yiftach replied to them that for many years he and his people [of Gilad] have been in conflict with Amon, and in the past, they had screamed for help from Efraim although Efraim did not take heed to help save them. “After I saw that you would not come to our aid to help save us, I put matters into my own hands and crossed to the nation of Amon to wage battle. G-d handed them into my hands [and thus I was successful in conquering them]. Why then do you now come with such claims and desire to fight me?”
  • The battle-Efraim is subdued: Yiftach gathered all the men of Gilad to wage [a retaliatory] war against Efraim, and they smote Efraim. This was done as a retaliatory measure against Efraim whose lowest class men would taunt the men of Gilad saying that they are not worthy of any importance amongst Efraim and Menashe.

2. The tribe of Efraim is tormented by Gilad:

  • The bridges of Efraim are controlled by Gilad: The people of Gilad captured all of the bridges of the Jordon which belonged to Efraim [and were used by them to cross the river].
  • The questioning of the men of Efraim and their execution: If a man of Efraim who survived [from the war[5]] desired to cross the bridge, he would be questioned by the people of Gilad as to his identity. They would ask him if he was from the tribe of Efraim, and he would deny it and reply no. So they would then ask the person to say the word Shiboles, and if he would say the word Siboles instead of Shiboles then they knew that he was from Efraim, as the people of Efraim could not say the word Shiboles due to a lisp. In such a case they would take the person of Efraim and slaughter him by the bridge of the Jordon river.
  • The number of deaths: At that time 42,000 men of Efraim were killed [by the hands of Yiftach].

3. The death of Yiftach:

  • Yiftach judged the Jewish people for six years.
  • Yiftach died and was buried in the cities of Gilad. [He was punished with leprosy for having killed his daughter, and thus his limbs fell from his body and were buried throughout the cities of Gilad.[6]]

4. The rule of Ivtzan:

  • After the death of Yiftach, Ivtzan [i.e. Boaz[7]] from Beis Lechem judged the Jewish people.
  • His children: Ivtzan had 30 sons and 30 daughters. He sent his daughters outside [of Beis Lechem to find men for marriage[8]]. The daughters brought the sons girls for marriage from the outside. [All of these sons and daughters died during Ivtzan’s lifetime.[9]]
  • His death: He judged the Jewish people for seven years. He died in Beis Lechem and was buried there.

5.  The rule of Eilon Hazevfulani:

  • After the death of Ivtzan, Eilon Hazevuloni judged the Jewish people.
  • His death: He judged the Jewish people for ten years. He died and was buried in the land of Zevulun.

6. The rule of Avdon Ben Hillel:

  • After the death of Eilon, Avdon Ben Hillel the Pirosoni judged the Jewish people.
  • His children: Avdon had 40 children and 30 grandchildren who would ride on seventy young donkeys. He sent his daughters outside [of Beis Lechem to find men for marriage[10]].
  • His death: He judged the Jewish people for eight years. Avdon Ben Hillel the Pirosoni died and was buried in the Pirason, which is in the land of Efraim on the mountain of Amaleik.

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[1] Metzudos David 12:1

[2] See Rashi 12:1

[3] Malbim 12:1

[4] Metzudos David 12:1

[5] See Metzudos David 12:5

[6] Radak 12:7

[7] Rashi 12:8

[8] Metzudos David 12:9

[9] Radak 12:8

[10] Metzudos David 12:9

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