The word ‘shibboleth’ is a word used as a test for detecting people from another district or country by their pronunciation.  It is, therefore, a way of separating one people from another.  It comes from chapter 12 of the Book of Judges which describes how the Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan and anyone wanting to cross was asked to say the word ‘shibboleth’.  The dialect of their enemies, the Ephraimites, did not include a ‘sh’ sound, so those who pronounced it ‘sibboleth’ were killed.  It says that 42,000 Ephraimites were killed at that time.


There are stories in the Old Testament that describe conflict and division, but in the New Testament Jesus is constantly teaching us to love one another, to ‘all be one’, to be ‘perfected in unity’ (John Chapter 17).  A theme in Luke is Jesus breaking down barriers between people: with Samaritans; with tax-collectors; with sinners – ‘more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner’ (15:7), and treating women as equal to men.  Every time we are tempted with ‘shibboleth’, let us remember the teaching of Jesus.




We agreed that we should not have enemies;  that God is not interested in differences of colour, creed or gender, and that it is not up to us to judge anyone – but that we should concentrate on trying to show kindness to anyone we come into contact with.


Best wishes,





Next Meeting:

30/1 Goodness (Matt 5:13)



phone: 928 0380



Meetings each Thursday at 1.30 pm (tea/coffee) then 2 pm to 4 pm in

St. Helen’s Parish Centre.