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The Warriors of Ephraim

by Nissan Mindel

Talks and Tales

  

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More than a hundred years had passed since the death of Joseph in Egypt, and the bitterness of the Golut (Exile) had become daily more unbearable. The young prince, Moses, who was the first to protest against the Egyptian oppressors, had been forced to flee the country. For, Dathan and Abiram had reported to Pharaoh that the young Moses had killed an Egyptian Overseer who was beating up a Jewish slave.

At this time a certain Jew of the tribe of Ephraim appeared; his name was Yagnon. He addressed his fellow-Jews in a rousing battle-cry: "Listen, my brothers! A hundred and eighty years have already passed since our ancestors arrived in Egypt; we can wait no longer for salvation. We are strong enough to take this matter into our own hands to free ourselves from the Egyptian yoke and capture our land, the land promised to our forefathers!"

But the older men in his audience just shook their heads sadly, and said: "If Yagnon truly believes that G-d promised our forefathers the Land of Canaan, then why does he not also believe that G-d will free His people and give us our land when He judges it to be the right time?"

They armed themselves with swords, bows and arrows, and marched out of Egypt
Yagnon, despite his fiery, rousing words, had little success amongst the majority of his listeners. Only the men of his own tribe of Ephraim backed him up and tried to influence others to follow suit, but without avail.

Nevertheless, Yagnon and his followers were determined to act on their own. They armed themselves with swords, bows and arrows, and marched out of Egypt. A fierce battle ensued, and the warriors of Ephraim experienced their first victory. Unfortunately, this was short-lived.They had brought no food with them, only gold and silver, meaning to buy food from the Philistines. The way to the Land of Israel through the Land of the Philistines was a short distance away, and the men of Ephraim soon found themselves at the borders of the Philistines. There, near the town of Gath, they saw herds of cattle and sheep and a number of shepherds taking care of them.

The men of Ephraim offered to buy some cattle and sheep, but the shepherds refused. However, the Ephraimites, tired and hungry after the heavy fighting they had gone through, began to round up some of the animals by force. The shepherds then set up a loud cry which brought out a large number of residents from the nearby city of Gath. A bitter battle followed, with heavy casualties on both sides. The men of Gath then sent out an urgent call for help throughout the land: "The Jews are threatening us and our land; Come and help us stop them!"


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RELATED CATEGORIES

History » Patriarchs, 12 Tribes

Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Haggadah
Text read at the Passover Eve feasts. The Haggadah recounts in great detail the story of our Exodus from Egypt.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Canaan
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."
Joseph
Firstborn son of Rachel and Jacob. Because he was Jacob's favorite son, his brothers conspired against him and sold him into slavery He ended up in Egypt where he became viceroy of the land, and eventually brought his entire family to Egypt. Died in 1451 BCE.
Ezekiel
1. Major Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies which Ezekiel transmitted.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.