Judges 12:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 12:4, NIV: Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, 'You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh.'

Judges 12:4, ESV: Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim. And the men of Gilead struck Ephraim, because they said, “You are fugitives of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and Manasseh.”

Judges 12:4, KJV: 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.

Judges 12:4, NASB: Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, 'You are survivors of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh.'

Judges 12:4, NLT: The people of Ephraim responded, 'You men of Gilead are nothing more than fugitives from Ephraim and Manasseh.' So Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and attacked the men of Ephraim and defeated them.

Judges 12:4, CSB: Then Jephthah gathered all of the men of Gilead. They fought and defeated Ephraim, because Ephraim had said, "You Gileadites are Ephraimite fugitives in the territories of Ephraim and Manasseh."

What does Judges 12:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The men of Ephraim have shown up in Gilead ready to do battle (Judges 12:1), after the fight against the Ammonites was already won (Judges 11:32–33). They claim to be furious that Jephthah and the people of Gilead did not include them in their successful war (Judges 12:2–3). Jephthah has responded that Ephraim had many opportunities to help, but never came (Judges 10:17–18; 11:4).

Rather than being satisfied with this explanation, the men of Ephraim seem even more angry. They taunt the people of Gilead, calling them "fugitives of Ephraim." They imply the clan of Gilead is living in territory which should belong to Ephraim and Manasseh. This might also be a jab at Jephthah's history as an exile (Judges 11:1–3). Another possible meaning is that Gilead, which is technically part of the tribe of Manasseh, is so intermingled with the people of Ephraim that they have lost identity with either tribe and so the land is open for dispute.

For his part, Jephthah takes the threats of Ephraim seriously. This makes sense, as the tribe arrived armed and ready for battle, effectively invading Gilead and then making threats. Jephthah gathers up the fighters of Gilead once more and attacks the men of Ephraim, striking them hard, as the following verses report (Judges 12:5–7).