And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said to Jephthah…
This was not the first time of such offence on the part of Ephraim. Gideon had to bear with their unreasonableness, and was gracious enough to permit their co-operation in securing the results of his victory. But now the "cup of their iniquity is full." Not for Ammon's destruction alone is Jephthah raised up; he has a punishment to mete out to Ephraim. They knew it not, but this pride of theirs was on the verge of its fall. They presumed on former exemption from evil consequences, and blindly rushed upon their chastisement. We see here -
I. PRIDE IN ITS DEVELOPMENT AND CAREER. Past kindness and consideration only hardened and strengthened it. Past achievements and the prestige acquired through them are relied upon instead of present obedience to God, etc. Ephraim cared more for its own position and advantage than to serve the commonwealth. By its inaction in the past and its hostile attitude to Jephthah on the present occasion it plays the traitor. It despised its brethren, and refused to recognise the leader God had chosen, and now it threatened to overthrow the advantage acquired by the Ammonite victory. It became a public nuisance and a political danger.
II. PRIDE IN ITS DIVINE CHASTISEMENT, In the various details of its punishment it is hard to repress a certain measure of sympathy for it. There is something always in the humiliation of a proud nature that commands our sympathy. And yet it was necessary and right that Ephraim should be taught a terrible lesson.
1. That very tribe, membership with which had been their boast, they would now fain deny.
2. The taunt of being "fugitives,' which they had used against the Gileadites, is now turned against themselves.
3. The martial strength upon which they had relied is now effectually and suddenly reduced. So will it be with all who set themselves against Christ and his kingdom. "Upon whomsoever this stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder." If God is against us, or, what is the same thing, we are against God, we may expect patient forbearance, and at first gentle chidings; but, if we persist, a terrible retribution. Sin is pride; it refuses to bow to God's will, or to accept the methods of his salvation. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.
WEB: The men of Ephraim were gathered together, and passed northward; and they said to Jephthah, "Why did you pass over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didn't call us to go with you? We will burn your house around you with fire!"