Judges 12:1
And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said to Jephthah…

The men of Ephraim are angry with Jephthah because lie has repulsed the Ammonites without their aid.


1. This is no proof of any failing on the part of those who are thus attacked. While some of the noblest of men have brought trouble upon their own heads through want of consideration for the petty weaknesses of their inferiors, the best and most conciliatory of men have not been able to avoid the envy and misjudgment of meaner natures. It is impossible to please all classes in doing a work of any magnitude and value. They are not always the worthiest men who have the fewest enemies. Christ had more foes than friends.

2. This is no proof of the claims of the rivals of great men. People who cannot improve a work can criticise it.

II. THEY WHO ARE BACKWARD IN ENCOUNTERING THE DANGER OF BATTLE ARE EAGER IN COVETING THE HONOUR OF VICTORY. There is no reason to believe that the men of Ephraim showed any willingness to join with Jephthah till after his great success. Weak and selfish people who will not enter into any enterprise until they see it has succeeded are plentiful enough, but they are worthless. The true men are they who will advocate the right cause when it is at a low ebb, when it is unpopular, when it seems doomed to failure, when the service of it involves risk and loss.

III. THE TASK FROM WHICH MEN SHRINK BEFOREHAND LOOKS EASY AFTER IT HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMED. Now that Jephthah has defeated the Ammonites, the men of Ephraim think his work was only a safe road to honour in which they would gladly have accompanied him. When we see the master of some art working with deft skill and unerring accuracy, nothing looks more easy than to do as he does. His very triumph destroys the appearance of the difficulties which lie in its way. Thus the honours of the artist and the orator, and, in religious matters, of the martyr and the missionary, inspire jealousy in men who think they are cheaply won just on account of that very excellency which conceals the necessary sacrifice, suffering, or toil by the perfect conquest of it.

IV. SELFISH PEOPLE ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR OWN SHARE IN THE HONOUR OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE THAN ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF IT. The men of Ephraim do nothing to encourage Jephthah; they are only anxious to share his honour. We see in public life personal ambition overcoming public spirit, in Christian work the honour of the agent exalted above the success of the work. But the patriot should be supremely anxious for the welfare of his country, no matter by whom this is secured, and the Christian should be simply desirous of the triumph of Christ and the extension of Christianity, though he may not share the honours of victory. The jealousy which would hinder the good work of others because we have no share in it is treason to Christ. It is unworthy for the Christian to covet or to hold a post which he knows another will occupy better than himself - A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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!"

Ingratitude the Frequent Reward of Benefactors
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