The author, smiling winningly Scott Raymond home

An African or European swallow?

05 Jun 2003

Last night my friend Shayne pointed out to me a fascinating little story of applied dialectology in the Old Testament, from Judges 12:



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,” they said, "All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ " If he said, “Sibboleth,” because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed at that time.