Ephraim, The tribe of

took precedence over that of Manasseh by virtue of Jacob's
blessing (Gen. 41:52; 48:1). The descendants of Joseph formed
two of the tribes of Israel, whereas each of the other sons of
Jacob was the founder of only one tribe. Thus there were in
reality thirteen tribes; but the number twelve was preserved by
excluding that of Levi when Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned
separately (Num. 1:32-34; Josh. 17:14, 17; 1 Chr. 7:20).

Territory of. At the time of the first census in the
wilderness this tribe numbered 40,500 (Num. 1:32, 33); forty
years later, when about to take possession of the Promised Land,
it numbered only 32,500. During the march (see CAMP T0000700)
Ephraim's place was on the west side of the tabernacle (Num.
2:18-24). When the spies were sent out to spy the land, "Oshea
the son of Nun" of this tribe signalized himself.

The boundaries of the portion of the land assigned to Ephraim
are given in Josh. 16:1-10. It included most of what was
afterwards called Samaria as distinguished from Judea and
Galilee. It thus lay in the centre of all traffic, from north to
south, and from Jordan to the sea, and was about 55 miles long
and 30 broad. The tabernacle and the ark were deposited within
its limits at Shiloh, where it remained for four hundred years.
During the time of the judges and the first stage of the
monarchy this tribe manifested a domineering and haughty and
discontented spirit. "For more than five hundred years, a period
equal to that which elapsed between the Norman Conquest and the
War of the Roses, Ephraim, with its two dependent tribes of
Manasseh and Benjamin, exercised undisputed pre-eminence. Joshua
the first conqueror, Gideon the greatest of the judges, and Saul
the first king, belonged to one or other of the three tribes. It
was not till the close of the first period of Jewish history
that God 'refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the
tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion
which he loved' (Ps. 78:67, 68). When the ark was removed from
Shiloh to Zion the power of Ephraim was humbled."

Among the causes which operated to bring about the disruption
of Israel was Ephraim's jealousy of the growing power of Judah.
From the settlement of Canaan till the time of David and
Solomon, Ephraim had held the place of honour among the tribes.
It occupied the central and fairest portions of the land, and
had Shiloh and Shechem within its borders. But now when
Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom, and the centre of
power and worship for the whole nation of Israel, Ephraim
declined in influence. The discontent came to a crisis by
Rehoboam's refusal to grant certain redresses that were demanded
(1 Kings 12).