"Then said they unto them, Say now, Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth; for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then took they him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand." (Judges 12:6)
Donna and I enjoy travelling, but everywhere I go, people say, "You talk funny." Of course, I am too amicable to say, "So do you."
The fact of the matter is, you don't have to go very far to find that folks pronounce things a bit differently than where you come from. And phraseology changes. too.
Here's the thing, your speech patterns will give you away!
Let me fill you in on the story here in Judges 12.
1) The land of Gilead has been invaded by the Ammonites, a heathen nation that lived near the Jordan River.
2) Jephthah leads Gilead in a successful campaign against the Ammonites. They reclaim the land that the Ammonites have stolen from them.
3) Gilead's fellow countrymen, the Ephraimites, complain that they were not invited into the fight against the Ammonites! (They did this same thing in Gideon's day, when Gideon fought the Midianites.)
4) Jephthah does not take their threats and insults laying down. He assembles his army, and teaches Ephraim a lesson about meddling in other peoples business, and making threats that they can't back up! (Good for you, Jephthah!)
5) The Gileadites whip the Ephraimites on the battlefield!
So, Ephraim's soldiers are trying to get back home with their tails between their legs, but they have to cross the Jordan River to do so.
Jephthah stations his men at the river crossings, to catch the men of Ephraim as they try to get back home. Of course, they are disguising themselves to evade capture.
But Jephthah's men conduct a test to reveal the true identity of those trying to cross the Jordan River. They ask every one to say, "Shibboleth", which means "stream, or flood".
The people from Ephraim cannot pronounce it like the people from Gilead! Their speech gave them away! The Ephraimites were arrested and executed because they could not say the word correctly!
If you listen to what people say, and the words that they use, you will know who they are.
1) God's people don't cuss!
2) God's people don't use hateful language!
3) God's people talk like Jesus!
A couple of lessons come from this passage:
1) Mind your own business! (Ephraim should have stayed home!)
2) Listen to how people talk! (Their speech will give them away!)
From my heart to your heart.