Friday, August 14, 2009

The Drunkards of Ephraim

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!
Isaiah 28:1

"Drunkard" in this instance is used metaphorically, referring to one who is carried away with his own sense of power, pride, and glory. The Israelites had become drunk with power and false religious zeal, the Baal worship. In the East when people are carried away with their false pride and power we say, "they are drunken."

Ephraim was situated in one of the most fertile parts of Palestine (note: the fat valley). The land was graced with wheat fields and vineyards. Wine was abundant. Then again, the people boasted of their power and glory. They were the descendants of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, whom Jacob had blessed, predicting that he would become a great people [Gen. 48:5-22]. Moreover, the name of Israel, the prince of God, was bestowed upon Ephraim and his descendants.

Therefore, Ephraim was the crown of the pride of Israel, but had defiled himself by worshiping pagan gods. Now he was wearing upon his head a shameful diadem. Ephraim had been unfaithful. He made alliances with pagan nations, and had utterly forsaken the Lord God of Israel and his everlasting covenant.

(Lamsa, George M. 1964. Old Testament Light. San Francisco: Harper Collins., pg 663)


  1. It seems like Ephraim was struggling with the same burden of pride that many of his descendants must shoulder today. Except for me of course, I am as humble as they come, "practically perfect in every way!"

    (If you can't tell I'm joking, it is because you have never met me, I'm no Mother Teresa when it comes to humility.)

  2. Mike, thanks for bringing this to a modern-day application because it's easy (and less painful) to think Israel was different back then than we, as Israel, are today. There are a few interesting things I noticed here.

    Like Ephraim's fat valley, we are graced with wheat fields which, when fat, would mean they are white and "ready to harvest" as is mentioned numerous times in the D&C. In other words, we have as Ephraim an obligation for missionary work in the "fat valley", yet if we are drunk with pride, which is doing your OWN will instead of God's will, we too may be guilty of being drunkards of Ephraim if we neglect missionary work.

    Dr. Gileadi added an additional interpretation of the wine they are drunk with "self-deception". I like this too because it flows well with the part of the scripture that speaks of the glorious flower with fading beauty. In other words, are we, through pride and self-deception, stuck in the glories and victories of Israel's past? We may revel in 'our' reputation as the "glorious" but are we actively working to maintain or enhance that, or are we content where we are, and living as though "All is well in Zion"? It is this slacking and "forgetting" that led to their apostasy.

    One last thing that jumped out is that we see in the first part of the verse that it is a crown of pride worn by Ephraim. Then, if we extend further into the chapter into the fifth verse, we see that the Lord will be a crown of glory. So there is a comparison of Ephraim here, and I think the clue to determining which side we are on is his reference in the same verse 5 to the "residue of his people". His people, as opposed to 'those' or 'the' people, are always distinguished by their obedience to His covenants. Here we see that before the Lord rules in glory, there will be a residue or remnant of His people who remain true to their covenants, forsaking the wine of pride, power, and materialism.

    Like yesterday's post, this is a wonderful opportunity for self-examination to see where we are relatives to the covenants we have made.

  3. Love, love. LOVE the comparisons to 'fat' wheat ready to harvest and missionary work--especially since that is Ephraim's main responsibility in these last days. Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Wow! This is wonderful. Amazing comparisons to today. We better do a bit of self-examination, Ephraimites!