Shibboleth

Here is one of my favorite TV moments. It is not often that the Christian faith is so well depicted.

The story behind this clip? A group of Chinese Christians end up in the United States because they are under severe persecution. President Jed Bartlett is given the opportunity to determine the “worthiness” of their request.

It is refreshing to hear the Chinese man make a distinction between the leader of his congregation and the “head” of his church. Also, pay attention to the affection in the man’s voice as he speaks of his aged, spiritual father.

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6 comments

  1. karmenl

    Ok….What is ‘shibboleth?’ And what was the President planning on doing instead of granting asylum?

    That clip was amazing!

  2. paulhill

    In Judges 12:5-7 the men from Gilead killed the Ephraimites because they couldn’t pronounce the password correctly.

    I own this episode of the West Wing. The entire episode revolves around Thanksgiving. The president doesn’t give them asylum but does something almost as good…

    I’ll let you watch or tell you the story in person.

  3. Jason R

    I was curious enough to hit dictionary.com. Here’s what I found:

    1382, the Heb. word shibboleth “flood, stream,” also “ear of corn,” in Judges xii:4-6. It was the password used by the Gileadites to distinguish their own men from fleeing Ephraimites, because Ephraimites could not pronounce the -sh- sound. Figurative sense of “watchword” is first recorded 1638, and it evolved by 1862 to “outmoded slogan still adhered to.” A similar test-word was cicera “chick pease,” used by the Italians to identify the French (who could not pronounce it correctly) during the massacre called the Sicilian Vespers (1282).

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