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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;
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

12:6 pronounce it right. Three hundred years in their separate provinces in Canaan could make a significant difference in local pronunciations, even between two tribes of Israelites (compare differences between Brooklyn and Birmingham accents today!).

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