Ephraim is the second son of Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel). He and his brother Manasseh were born to their father in Egypt.
Both boys met their grandfather Jacob for the first time when he relocated to Egypt. When Jacob was sick and dying, Joseph took his 2 sons to meet their grandfather (Genesis 48).
Jacob laid his hands on them and blessed them. Joseph wanted his father to place his right hand on Manasseh the first born, but Jacob crossed his hands and placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, to Joseph’s displeasure.
Jacob said, “The younger shall be greater!” (verse 19).
So, Ephraim was ordained for greatness above his older brother!
Ephraim became one of the Tribes of Israel. Their men are known for their love for battle: they are men of renown, brave warriors. They are in their best element at the war front.
Their zeal for war was shown twice in the book of Judges. In Chapter 7, A Judge called Gideon led his men to battle against the Midianites. In Chapter 8, the men of Ephraim came to see Gideon when he returned from the war front and said, “Why did you go to fight with the Midianites without us?” And they rebuked him!
In Chapter 11, another Judge called Jephthah led his men to battle against the Ammonites without the men of Ephraim. When they returned from the battle, the men of Ephraim went to challenge him (Chapter 12): “Why did you go to fight against the Ammonites and you did not call us to go with you? We will burn down your house!”
Imagine that! These guys were just wired for battle. When Jacob laid his hand on him. It was probably the spirit of war he transferred on him.
Going to war was their calling, their expertise. They threatened to burn down Jephthah’s house because he went to fight without them. He deprived them of their favorite past time!
But something happened later…
The Psalmist wrote, “The children of Ephraim being armed and carrying bows TURNED BACK IN THE DAY OF BATTLE”!
These guys who get upset when they are not invited to join in prosecuting wars now got to the war front, armed to the teeth, prepared for battle- and turned back!
They chickened out!
They lost their mojo!
It’s like Michael Jackson who has been in the limelight as a pre-teen suddenly developing stage fright as a 40 year old. He should be used to the crowd by then. But the men of Ephraim developed stage fright at the battle front: and they fled!
I am of the opinion they did because they were too comfortable with their primitive fighting skills and did not develop themselves.
They remained analog when the world had gone digital.
It’s like the man who is very proficient with the typewriter and refused to get computer literacy: very soon, he will “turn back in the day of battle”!
I am an architect. I studied architecture in the analog age, using tracing papers, pencils, pen and ink.
But architecture has gone digital: today we use computers and all sorts of software for our designs.
Any architect who does not want to “turn back in the day of battle” has to upgrade his skills!
The children of Ephraim went to battle FULLY ARMED. They were CARRYING BOWS (and arrows). They were ready to fight. They were trained to fight. They had the skills, the competence and the capacity to fight.
But they got to the battlefront and met an enemy armed with automatic machine guns!
Where do you start from? How d you win such battles?
When the tools for war were being upgraded from the primitive bows and arrows to guns and rifles, Ephraim was still glorying in his fighting ability and zeal.
When the instruments of war was changing from swords and shields to grenades and missiles, Ephraim was still using axes and daggers.
It is tragic that today, we have Christians who refuse to accept technological advancement: they see it as “evil”!
I ran into a dear brother at a wedding in Abeokuta about 20 years ago. I was based in Lagos then (I relocated to Lagos from Abeokuta). He asked me which Church I attended, I told him.
He said, “Ah! You are the folks who use computer bible!” He sounded like he had a problem with it, and I asked if indeed he had.
He said it was “evil” to discard the BOOK for COMPUTER. “The spirit of the Antichrist is entering the Church and it seems you are unaware”, he said. “If I want to prepare a sermon, I take about 8 different translations of the Bible, I spend about 5 hours going through them and writing my sermon notes”, he submitted. The irony is, with a Computer Bible, same sermon notes would be written in less than 2 hours!
We have since lost touch, but I wonder what his take would be today, in this age of Smart Phones, Bible Apps, Google and the Internet…?
Don’t get left behind, folks! Learn new things. Improve yourself. Get better, faster and more competent in what you do. Mankind moved from walking to horse backs to carriages to the vehicle to airplanes.
Don’t remain in the same stop and become a relic. GROW!
Don’t become “Yesterday’s men” like the men of Ephraim. As the proverbs goes, when the music beat changes, the dance steps must change too.
Else you dance off-key…