Original Shibboleth by Deborah L. Stenberg


Original Oil on Panel
11×14 Unframed

The Shibboleth paintings started with the Biblical story from the Book of Judges.
In this chapter the Gibeonites had just cerebrated a victory over the Ephraimites. In the confusion following the battle, the victors were unable to determine friend from foe. They devised a password, “Shibboleth” which means corn or grain. Soldiers pronouncing the word correctly were allowed to cross the Jordan River to their homes. The enemy language did not include the proper “sh” sound to pronounce this word, so anyone with the incorrect pronunciation “shibboleth” was determined to be the enemy and put to death. On the basis of this test, 42,000 soldiers were executed.

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