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The Children of Ephraim.

The Children of Ephraim.

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Published by glennpease
BY JOHN BAINES, M.A.,


Psalm lxxviu. 10.
BY JOHN BAINES, M.A.,


Psalm lxxviu. 10.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 08, 2013
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07/08/2013

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THE CHILDRE OF EPHRAIM.BY JOH BAIES, M.A.,Psalm lxxviu. 10.We are not told to what event in the nationalhistory of Israel this text refers. There arevarious defeats of the Israelites recorded in thesacred books^ but in none of them is there anyspecial blame attached to the Ephraimites whoare here signalled out as the offenders. Perhapsthe Psalmist is speaking generally^ and refers tothe shameful defeat of the Hebrew army at thehands of the Philistines when the ark of God wastaken. Or it may have reference to some actionwhich was known to the writer of the Psalm^ butof which no record has been preserved^ in whichthe Ephraimites refused to face the enemy^ andturned back.I should think on the whole the latter is theI114 The Children of Ephraim, [Serm*more likely, and that stress is intended to be laidupon the children of Ephraim. The tribe of Ephraim was one of the largest and most powerfulof the tribes. It very soon asserted its claims toleadership^ and by the haughtiness of its preten-sions was on more than one occasion the source of internal dissension. After the death of Moses^the administration of affairs had rested withJoshua^ who was of that tribe^ and it naturally
 
felt reluctant to see power passing into the handsof the smaller and less important of the confeder-ate cantons. Hence its anger at Gideon and atJephthah for not having specially summoned it tothe war^ — ending in an apology being made byGideon^ while Jephthah's sterner temper chastisedtheir insolence with the sword. Shiloh, the sacredplace where the ark rested^ was also within theborders of this tribe^ so that altogether the chil-dren of Ephraim ranked among the foremost, if they were not actually the foremost, up to thetime of King David, when their supremacy wasshaken by the elevation of the king's tribe of Judah. They were thus the bravest and most ex-perienced warriors of their day ; ^nd not only so,they had all the best known appliances of war attheir disposal. " Harnessed and carrying bows/'saith the Prayer-Book version, ''armed and carry-ing bows," as the Bible version has it. They werenot a rude raw rabble drawn from the plough,and sent into the field undisciplined and unarmed.IX.] The Children of Ephraim. 115They were " harnessed and carrying bows/' orwere they the weaker and less warlike of thetribes^ they were very Ephraimites — the pickedtroops of the chosen people^ on whom all relianceought to have been placed^ and of whom it mightwith all confidence have been predicted^ that" Come -wind, come wrack,At least they'd die with harness on their back."But the contrary was the case. They would notmeet the foe — they turned and fled. They had nohearty and all the Weapons with which they werefurnished werfe of no avail. " They turned them-
 
selves back in the day of battle.^' That was thefinal aggravation : when the pinch came, whenthe fight had commenced, they fled.These Ephraimites thus held up as a warningby the writer of this psalm, to the rest of thetribes, may also be taken as furnishing a warningto ourselves, who like the people of old, are calledto warfare as " Chbist^s faithful soldiers and ser-vants.^'First, it was " in the day of battle" the Ephraim-ites " turned back." It was not that they had givenany indication of the line of conduct they weregoing to pursue. It was not that signs of insub-ordination had been discerned in the ranks, or aspirit of mutiny been detected at work. On thecontrary, we may fairly presume they had givensatisfaction to their officers; had gone through116 The Children ofBphraim. [Serm.their evolutions^ and appeared on parade in excel-lent order; been obedient^ prompt, and active^and given promise of distinguishing tfaemselyesin action. Yet when the crisis came> spite of their gopd order^ of their discipline^ their ac-coutrements^ their knowledge of war^ their expe-rience in fightings they were found wanting. Muchbetter had they refused to be led to the field atall — much better had they (bad as it would havebeen) disbanded and gone home before the cam-paign opened. Their general might then havemade levies from other tribes, and gathered fromthe more distant cantons more willing soldiers.He would have known what to do. He wouldhave known what materials he had wherewith to''set a squadron in the field/' and the kind of 

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