Judges 8:1
And the men of Ephraim said to him, Why have you served us thus, that you called us not, when you went to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
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(1) The men of Ephraim.—The arrogance of this tribe was derived partly from its strength, and partly from the memories of their ancestor Joseph; from the double portion which Joseph had received in memorial of his pre-eminence; from the fact that Jacob, in his blessing, had preferred the younger Ephraim before his elder brother, Manasseh; and from the almost regal influence which had been so long exercised by their tribesman, Joshua. This arrogance was destined, as we shall see later, to bring on them a terrible humiliation (Judges 12:1). The complaint was fiercely urged, probably at the time when, by bringing the heads of Oreb and Zeeb (Judges 7:25), they had proved both their power and their fidelity to the national cause. What they wanted was the acknowledgment of their claims (their hegemony, as the Greeks would have called it) by all the tribes.

They did chide with him sharply.—Literally, with force or violence, as in 1Samuel 2:16, so that the Vulg. renders it, jurgantes fortiter, et prope vim inferentes, “strongly reproaching him, and almost treating him with violence.”

Jdg 8:1. Why hast thou served us thus, &c. — Why hast thou neglected and despised us in not calling us in to thy help? This they considered as very contemptuous treatment, since Gideon had sent to other tribes, that were meaner, and not so able to assist him as themselves. These were a proud people, puffed up with a conceit of their number and strength, and the preference which Jacob gave them above Manasseh, of which tribe Gideon was, who, by this act, had seemed to advance his own tribe, and to depress theirs,8:1-3 Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And those who are the most backward to difficult services, will be the most angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here as a great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is best removed by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to their passion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of a weak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high.The success of Gideon's enterprise mortified the pride of Ephraim, as the chief tribe, seeing that they had played a subordinate part. Compare Judges 12:1. CHAPTER 8

Jud 8:1-9. The Ephraimites Offended, but Pacified.

1. the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus?—Where this complaint was made, whether before or after the crossing of the Jordan, cannot be determined. By the overthrow of the national enemy, the Ephraimites were benefited as largely as any of the other neighboring tribes. But, piqued at not having been sharers in the glory of the victory, their leading men could not repress their wounded pride; and the occasion only served to bring out an old and deep-seated feeling of jealous rivalry that subsisted between the tribes (Isa 9:21). The discontent was groundless, for Gideon acted according to divine directions. Besides, as their tribe was conterminous with that of Gideon, they might, had they been really fired with the flame of patriotic zeal, have volunteered their services in a movement against the common enemy.The Ephraimites are displeased with Gideon; he satisfies them, Judges 8:1-3. He pursueth two kings of the Midianites he punisheth those of Succoth and Penuel, Judges 8:4-17. He revengeth his brethren’s death on the two kings, Judges 8:18-21. He refuseth government, Judges 8:22,23; demandeth a present of the spoil, and thereof makes an ephod; places it in Ophrah; it is a cause of idolatry, Judges 8:24-27. Gideon’s children, wives, death, and burial, Judges 8:30-32. Israel revolts to idolatry; is ungrateful to Gideon’s family, Judges 8:33-35.

Why hast thou neglected and despised us, in not calling us in to thy help, as thou didst other tribes? These were a proud people, Isaiah 11:13, puffed up with a conceit of their number and strength, and the preference which Jacob by Divine direction gave them above Manasseh, Genesis 48:19,20, of which tribe Gideon was, who by this act had seemed to advance his own tribe, and to depress theirs.

And the men of Ephraim said unto him,.... To Gideon, when they brought him the heads of Oreb and Zeeb; taking this to be a proper opportunity to expostulate and chide with him, when they had done so much service:

why hast thou served us thus; neglected them, overlooked them, which they took as a reproach to them, and as if he had bore them ill will:

that thou calledst us not when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? that he did not call them first, when he called other tribes, as Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, when they were as near or nearer, and more nearly allied, being both the descendants of Joseph; and were the tribe that Jacob had given the preference to; and being of proud spirits they envied the glory that Gideon, who was of the tribe of Manasseh, had got; and by which they were jealous he would advance that tribe above theirs:

and they did chide with him sharply; used rough words and ill language, and threw out many keen and biting expressions, which discovered great anger and wrath, envy and ill will.

And the men of Ephraim said unto him, {a} Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.

(a) They began to object, because he had the glory of the victory.

Ch. Jdg 8:1-3. Gideon appeases the men of Ephraim

1. the men of Ephraim … did chide with him sharply] A similar outburst of jealousy is recorded in Jdg 12:1 f., and in much the same language; but it need not follow that the one passage is merely a reproduction of the other; probably there were plenty of tales about the notorious temper of the great tribe. Thus early in the history Ephraim begins to assert itself. The want of unity among the tribes at this period is evident.Verse 1. - The men of Ephraim. It is possible that the transfer of the birthright from Manasseh to Ephraim (Genesis 48:13-19) may have produced some estrangement between the tribes. It is also possible that Ephraim, in view of their great tribal power, and the distinction conferred upon them by the judgeship of Joshua the son of Nun (Numbers 13:8), and the possession of his grave (Joshua 24:30), may have grown haughty and domineering, and perhaps more disposed to rest upon their former glories than to embark in fresh undertakings. Anyhow Gideon did not consult them, nor ask their aid, in the first instance. Now that the war had been so successful, the men of Ephraim were much displeased at not having been consulted. According to the command which they had received (Judges 7:17), the other two tribes followed his example. "Then the three companies blew the trumpets, broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right to blow, and cried, Sword to the Lord and Gideon! And they stood every one his place round about the camp," sc., without moving, so that the Midianites necessarily thought that there must be a numerous army advancing behind the torch-bearers. וגו ויּרץ, "and the whole army ran," i.e., there began a running hither and thither in the camp of the enemy, who had been frightened out of their night's rest by the unexpected blast of the trumpets, the noise, and the war-cry of the Israelitish warriors; "and they (the enemy) lifted up a cry (of anguish and alarm), and caused to fly" (carried off), sc., their tents (i.e., their families) and their herds, or all their possessions (cf. Judges 6:11; Exodus 9:20). The Chethibh יניסוּ is the original reading, and the Keri ינוּסוּ a bad emendation.
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