When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel,
&c.] Or, with trembling, as Jarchi: so Jeroboam, who was of the tribe of Ephraim, spake before Solomon, a great king, as he observes. R. Moses the priest interprets it of Jeroboam; but it may be understood of the tribe in general, and especially of the heads of it, at anytime before it fell into idolatry; when they spake with submission and humility, they were attended to by the other tribes in all consultations and debates, and great deference was paid unto them; and they were find in great esteem, and highly honoured, agreeably to that common saving of our Lord, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted", ( Luke 14:11 ) ; or, "when [he] spake [there was] trembling" F17; either the neighbouring nations, when he threatened them with war: or among the other tribes of Israel, when he spake in counsel, and with authority, they rose up and heard him with great reverence and respect; see ( Job 29:8-10 ) . So the Targum,
``when anyone of the house of Ephraim spake, trembling laid hold on the people; they became princes in Israel.''Some refer this to the times of Joshua, who was of that tribe, and whom the Israelites feared as they had feared Moses, ( Joshua 4:14 ) ; others to the times of Gideon and Jephthah, with whom the tribe of Ephraim expostulated, ( Judges 8:1 ) ( 12:1 ) ; but others interpret it of Jeroboam's idolatry, of his setting up the worship of the calves, which he did upon his exalting himself, and setting himself up as king of the ten tribes; and, in some agreement with this, Schmidt understands, by "trembling", a terrible and horrible thing, idolatry, which he commanded and appointed; and which he "bore" or "carried", as the word F18 is interpreted by him, and may be; that is, his sin, and the punishment of it, which Jeroboam and his posterity did bear; and so it agrees with what follows: but,
or "and", when he offended in Baal, he died;
or when he sinned, and became guilty of more idolatry still, by worshipping Baal, as well as the calves, which was done in the times of Ahab, ( 1 Kings 16:31 ) ; when Ephraim or the kingdom or Israel fell into distresses and calamities, sunk in their grandeur and authority, declined in their wealth and riches, and were insulted by their enemies, particularly by Benhadad king of Syria, who sent to Ahab, and challenged his silver and gold, his wives and children, as his own, ( 1 Kings 20:3 1 Kings 20:4 ) ; and so they gradually decreased in credit and reputation, in power and authority, in wealth and substance, and at last were delivered to the sword of the enemy, and to captivity, which was their civil death.
F17 (ttr-rbdk) "quum loqueretur--tremor erat", Pagninus, Vatablus; "terror erat", Zanchius, Drusius.
F18 (awh avn) "portavit ipse, [sub.] iniquitatem suam", Schmidt.