Passwords

I begin volume 9 of my 8  bound volumes of 500 collected articles with # 501… Biblical inspiration.

Chapter 12 in the Book of Judges  (Shoftim) describes a war between the Ephramites and the Gileadites.

For the first time in biblical literature, the matter of a password is clearly described. Using or mis-using it resulted in death.

“The Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan river against the Ephramites and whenever a fugitive of the Ephramites said ‘let me go and cross over the river’, the men of Gilead asked him if he was an Ephramite. If he said no they said to him ‘say the word Shibboleth’.

And the fugitive Ephramite said Sibboleth, for he was unable to pronounce the sh of the word. Because he could not pronounce the password correctly, the Gileadites took him to the fords of the Jordan river and killed him.”  A dialectical variation caused the slaughter of 42,000 Ephramites by the men of Gilead.

Here is the first introduction in the Bible of the significance of a password.

In modern times in Israel during the War of Independence, Colonel Mickey Marcus, a West Point graduate officer, came to Israel to help the young army. It happened one night that as he approached the area where he had to be, the sentry asked him for the password.

Whether in confusion or lack of familiarity with the Hebrew language, Colonel Marcus was unable to respond, whereby the sentry shot and killed him. All because of a password.

Readers who follow my articles on the TIMES OF ISRAEL may recall my 500th one, “An Illiterate Idiot”, in which I described my inability to understand the laws and terminology of computer usage.

When I attempted to login, suddenly I was blocked. Two possibilities appeared on the screen. “User name and/or password is invalid” or “Enable cookies”.  What cookies? I did not understand. But I asked for help from knowledgeable  “computerites” and even after twenty-three attempts it was impossible to login.

My patient editor, Miriam Herschlag, offered several suggestions which I followed, still without success.

A computer expert came to my assistance and after two hours and many attempts to correct the problem, he too failed. I had been very frustrated for lack of knowledge of how to use the computer to resolve the problem. Several days and innumerable hours were wasted because of it.

Until today ! My genius helper was once again my devoted and dedicated editor, Miriam. She solved the dilemma!  God bless her.

Can you guess what the problem was? Obviously. I had used an expired password !!!

Fortunately, this error did not end on an unhappy note. I’m still among the living. Happily, I am not and never have been an Ephramite !

But the lesson learned is invaluable and reverts to the Hebrew bible regarding the importance of using the correct password.

My children sought to comfort and to console me. “Don’t worry, abba. It’s just old age”.

Old age? Very thoughtful of them. Some “consolation” indeed !

But it’s very nice to be back. Many thanks to Miriam.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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