Judges 12:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 12:5, NIV: The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, 'Let me cross over,' the men of Gilead asked him, 'Are you an Ephraimite?' If he replied, 'No,'

Judges 12:5, ESV: And the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. And when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me go over,” the men of Gilead said to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” When he said, “No,”

Judges 12:5, KJV: And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

Judges 12:5, NASB: And the Gileadites took control of the crossing places of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened whenever any of the survivors of Ephraim said, 'Let me cross over,' that the men of Gilead would say to him, 'Are you an Ephraimite?' If he said, 'No,'

Judges 12:5, NLT: Jephthah captured the shallow crossings of the Jordan River, and whenever a fugitive from Ephraim tried to go back across, the men of Gilead would challenge him. 'Are you a member of the tribe of Ephraim?' they would ask. If the man said, 'No, I'm not,'

Judges 12:5, CSB: The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim. Whenever a fugitive from Ephraim said, "Let me cross over," the Gileadites asked him, "Are you an Ephraimite? " If he answered, "No,"

What does Judges 12:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The exact reasons for this conflict between the men of Ephraim and the people of Gilead are hard to understand. Jephthah led Gilead to defeat the Ammonites (Judges 11:32–33). After the battle, armed Ephraimites marched into Gilead territory and began making threats and accusations (Judges 12:1–4). They might have been angry they were not called sooner to the war—though they had ample time to help (Judges 10:17–18; 11:4)—but are more likely looking to capture territory. Regardless of motives, it quickly becomes clear that Ephraim greatly miscalculated their chances of winning.

Jephthah takes the threat from Ephraim seriously enough to gather his Gilead fighters and attack the invading forces. Gilead strikes Ephraim hard and completely subdues them. Then Gilead's fighters take control of the fords of the Jordan River (Judges 3:28) over which the men of Ephraim could have escaped back into their own territory. As the scattered Ephraimite soldiers arrive at the fords to retreat, the men of Gilead kill the trespasser one-by-one rather than letting them go. They even devise a test to know if a man is from Ephraim or from Gilead (Judges 12:6).