Biblical Hebrew

סֵפֶר    שְׁפוֹטִים                                   
 judgements   book of                                  


The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. In the narrative of the Hebrew Bible, it covers the time between the conquest described in the Book of Joshua and the establishment of a kingdom in the Books of Samuel, during which biblical judges served as temporary leaders.

Judges can be divided into three major sections: 
a double prologue (chapters 1:1–3:6), 
a main body (3:7–16:31), 
and a double epilogue (17–21).

The rest of this comprehensive Wikipedia article on the book can be read here.


Judges 4:4a
                        וּדְבוֹרָה        אִשָּׁה          נְבִיאָה
                             a prophetess       a woman      and Deborah

  The name "Deborah" is a feminine noun meaning, "bee."
The name appears 10 times in the Hebrew Bible. 
In Gen 35:8, and nine times in the Book of Judges.

Judges 12:6a
(An extract from the notes found in BHFA, Volume 5.)
        וַיֹּאמְרוּ       לוֹ     אֱמָר־ נָא      שִׁבֹּלֶת     וַיֹּאמֶר      סִבֹּלֶת
          sibbolet    and he said   shibbolet    please  say     to him   and they said 

Noun, f. sg. abs. meaning, "flowing stream" (here and in Ps 69:3). The
construct form is found in Ps 69:16, and in Is 27:12. Elsewhere it is found
to  mean, "ear of grain." In the abs. sg. in Jb 24:24. In the abs. pl. in 
Gen 41:5-27; Is 17:5,5; Ru 2:2. In the pl. cstr in Zec 4:12.

Noun, f. sg. abs. This is an example of a hapax legomenon (a word that is 
found only once in a body of work like the Hebrew Bible). It has no connection 
to any other root, making it impossible to ascertain with certainty what the
original author meant.

One only has to know the Hebrew alphabet to be able to see how the difference in pronunciation of the same word in different dialects was used by Jephthah as a code word to identify Ephraimites masquerading as Gileadites.

The West Wing

The second season of this American political drama television series aired in the United States on NBC from October 4, 2000 to May 16, 2001.

Episode 8.
Just before Thanksgiving Day a container ship arrives in San Diego, California, from the Far East; one container holds 83 surviving refugees from the People's Republic of China and the bodies of 13 who have died during the voyage; 
the survivors claim to be Christian evangelicals fleeing from persecution by the Communist government, and they request religious asylum. 
The question facing the President is, 
"are the refugees true believers, or are they feigning their faith to achieve religious asylum."
The President tells his aides the story of "shibboleth" from Judges 12, and says that if the refugees can say "shibboleth" is, he will grant them religious asylum.

The President summons a representative of the Chinese illegal immigrants and speaks briefly with him in the Oval Office. In response to a question by the President during their conversation, the representative states, 
"Faith is the true shibboleth," 
to which the President replies, 
"And you sir, just said the magic word, in more ways than one."

Click here to watch the YouTube clip.