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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Accent (02/21/13)

TITLE: Dangerous Dialect
By Cheryl Harrison


Asriel crouched behind a low-lying bush near the shallow water. He sensed danger. A slight movement to his left caused the hair on his neck to stand on end. The dim light made it difficult to determine the source of the sound. Asriel wiped the perspiration from his brow. Adrenalin flooded his body. He unsheathed his blade and prepared to defend himself.

An assailant rushed at Asriel from the shadows. The two men wrestled until they met face to face. Shocked, they both relaxed their grip and rolled away from one another.

"What are you doing here? Asriel barked.

"I'm headed home," Tahath replied.

Asriel stared at his cousin with disbelief. "Tahath, I could have killed you! Why are you on this side of the river? Did you go to Zaphon to fight with the rebels?"

Tahath's tendency to fall in with the wrong crowd worried Asriel. Especially now, when so much animosity existed between their two tribes–Manasseh and Ephraim. Since they were little boys, Asriel and Tahath had been caught in the middle of the ancient feud. Jealousy divided the house of Joseph.

The conflict escalated when the news about Jephthah's victory over the Ammonites spread to Ephraim. Soon afterward, the offended Ephraimites crossed over the Jordan. They travelled to Zaphon and threatened to burn Jephthah's house to the ground.

Jephthah preferred diplomacy, but the Ephraimites refused to listen. A tribal battle followed, and now the blood of Ephraim stained the Jordan River.

Jephthah's orders weighed heavy on Asriel's heart. All fugitives must be seized and put to death. No survivors, none, allowed to return home.

Asriel feared for Tahath's life. He drew close to his cousin and whispered a desperate plea, "Tahath, my beloved cousin, you must depart from this place at once! Go now, before someone sees you. Follow the path back to where the water runs deep. Then, wait by the river until morning. Don't talk to anyone!"

Tahath retreated down the path. "I'll see you at home," He promised.

Asriel watched until his cousin disappeared into the bushes. He exhaled sharply and returned to his post.


For the most part, Tahath adhered to Asriel's instructions. He followed the path to where the water ran deep. He settled in for the night; careful to stay out of sight. Before he drifted off into a fitful sleep, Tahath considered his options. He regretted his involvement with the Ephraimite rebels, and vowed never to fight against his cousins again.

The next morning, just as the sun peeked over the horizon, Tahath surfaced from his hiding place. He ran to the river's edge and ventured into the water.

A loud voice came from behind. "Hey you! Stop right there!"

Startled, Tahath turned to see a Gileadite soldier barreling toward him.

The soldier stopped short of the water. "Are you an Ephraimite?"

Tahath froze in the water. "No," He lied.

The soldier drew his sword. "Come out of the river," He commanded. "You sound Ephraimite to me. Let me hear you say Shibboleth."

Tahath's heartbeat tripled. Asriel's warning suddenly made sense. He stepped onto the bank of the river and reluctantly said, "Sibboleth."

"I knew it!" The soldier said as he lifted his sword.

A split-second later, Tahath fell to the ground, dead.

His accent gave him away.

Author's Notes:
Fiction article adapted from Judges 12:1-6; The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Judges 12:5-6: 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.

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This article has been read 409 times
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lynn gipson 03/02/13
Excellent. You had me at hello and throughout the entire story. Very well written and spot on topic. Thank you for sharing this excellent piece.
Allen Povenmire 03/02/13
Power tale. made me immediately want to read the scripture referenced. Thanks.
C D Swanson 03/02/13
A highly enjoyable and excellent read. Judges is a book that holds my attention normally, (as does the entire Bible) - and this piece was cleverly desgined to feature the book with indelible highlights.

Nicely done. God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/02/13
Wow what an intense story. You had me holding my breath as I read it. I love how you are bringing to the reader's attention to the Bible. Often when I think of the book of Judges, i find it to be a bit of a tedious read, but you made it come alive for me and made me realize I've been missing some very important stories.
Virgil Youngblood 03/02/13
This was delightful to read. I had considered writing on the same scripture, but I could never get my thoughts organized enough to do it. I like the way you wrote it. Well done.
Judith Gayle Smith03/02/13
You made this Scripture so real. I was crouching in fear and prayer with these youngsters.

Because He lives and loves . . .
Alicia Renkema03/02/13
Thank you for making these scriptures come so alive through your intense dialogue between the cousins. I am familiar with this story but it had been a while. I was so hoping that the one cousin would make it to safety. This was a very well crafted and enjoyable story to read, although the ending was sad. Nicely done!
Noel Mitaxa 03/03/13
You have brought out the drama and tension of this passage, where Jephthah could literally take no prisoners. I was drawn towards this passage, but let it pass. I'm glad to see how you have treated it.
Loren T. Lowery03/04/13
Wow - tensely written, bringing scripture to life and to fit it so well into the topic is simply amazing. Great job - I hope this does well in the placement, but even if it doesn't you've a great talent for story telling - especially in this genre.
Vince Martella03/04/13
I knew I wouldn't be the only one to write on this topic. You came at it from a different angle, though. Great job with dialogue and characterization. I was drawn to the characters. Good job explaining the Biblical details as well. Hope it finds a well deserved placement!
Jack Taylor 03/04/13
Insightful, well-paced. Putting names and personalities to biblical stories adds extra life. Do I sense betrayal among the cousins?
Bea Edwards 03/05/13
You did a great job bringing this OT account to living color. I totally enjoyed the way you wove the tale.
Myrna Noyes03/05/13
What an interesting, very "on topic" story! I was intrigued by the biblical event it was based upon, too! You did a great job of telling this in a way that made me feel sorry for the "enemy"!
Myrna Noyes03/05/13
Oh, I also wanted to say that your descriptive and suspenseful beginning totally captured my attention! :)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/07/13
Alicia Renkema03/07/13
Nicely Done! I was so glad to see your name in the highest rankings when I got on the boards later on for my final look.You always have such a great style, and your stories are so gripping. You are a joy to read! Have a blessed evening and weekend.
Ellen Carr 03/08/13
You have done a great job at this story based on the Bible facts. I must admit I didn't know about the 'Shibboleth' vs
'Sibboleth' way they could tell what tribe the person came from. What a great idea it was, to use this as the basis for your story. I really enjoyed the tale. Well done!