Reply To: Who was Ibzan in the Bible

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Ibzan was a judge in Israel. What ever the reason for his actions, Ibzan must have been a man of firm convictions. Ibzan was a judge of Israel for seven years after Jephthah of Gilead. Ibzan was from Bethlehem, but the Bible doesn’t make it clear whether this was the same Bethlehem where David was born or another Bethlehem in the far north of Israel. In any case, Ibzan had thirty sons and thirty daughters, which suggests he was very wealthy and was a man of great influence.

The only other significant information we know about Ibzan is that he purposely arranged for each of his children to marry someone from “outside”—giving his daughters away to men from “outside,” and bringing in women from “outside” to marry his sons (Judges 12:8–10).

The Bible doesn’t say specifically what “outside the clan” means, but it is likely that this meant someone who was still within their tribe. It is unlikely that he would have arranged for his children to marry non-Israelites.

By marrying his sons and daughters to people outside his clan, Ibzan may have been broadening his sphere of influence within his tribe, thereby elevating his status and perhaps even leading to his installment as a judge over Israel.

Jewish tradition associates Ibzan with Boaz of Bethlehem (in Judah), who married Ruth and bore a son who became the grandfather of King David.