One of the signs of a dysfunctional family is everybody getting into everybody else’s business. There always seems to be at least one instigator who spends all his time finding out what everyone is doing and spreading the news to others. Whether you want to think of them as busy bodies, gossips, or trouble makers, they feel it is their job to keep everyone informed.
My family is no different than any other. Our instigator happened to be the grandma with too much time on her hands. She thought she was doing the family a service, but in reality, she was just stirring the pot and perpetuating conflict. I believe the instigator in our family was motivated by a need to be the center of attention and a deep concern for the well being of her family. In a sense, you could say she was a worry wart that was not able to trust God for her family’s protection.
The men of Ephraim appear to be the instigators among the children of Israel. On two occasions, they asked why they had not been contacted regarding battle plans. Jephthah’s response to their question “Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee?” (Judges 12:1) my have been sarcastic because he uses a different word for call when he says “I and my people were in great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands” (Judges 12:2).
The word Jephthah used for called, zâ‘aq (zaw – ak´) is typically used in reference to crying out to God for deliverance. “Its first occurrence is in the record of the Israelites bondage in Egypt” (2199). There is a distinct difference between za‘aq which refers to divine aid and qârâ (kaw – raw´) which “signifies the specification of a name” (7121). So Jephthah may have been trying to make a point: I didn’t call you because only God has the ability to deliver us from our enemies.
“Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim…and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand” (Judges 12:4, 5). Family conflicts are sometimes necessary and can serve a purpose, but often the damage is not worth it. The loss of 42,000 men was significant. The Ephraimites might have been better off to mind their own business.