The Tribe of Ephraim

“The children of Ephraim, armed and shooting their bows…” (Psalms 78:9). They counted the 400 years of Egyptian exile from the time when the decree was made, when the Holy One, blessed is He, spoke to Abraham at the Covenant Between the Parts. But in reality the count began 30 years later when Isaac was born. What did they do? They gathered together and went out to war, and many of them fell dead. Why? “Because they did not believe in G-d, neither did they trust in His deliverance” (Psalms 78:22). Because they transgressed the End, and they transgressed the Oath.
(Midrash on Song of Songs 2:7)

The Invaders

The Book of Numbers (14:44) relates that a group of Jews undertook an unauthorized invasion of the Holy Land after the sin of the spies. Moses warned them, “Why do you transgress the command of G-d? It will not succeed!” The end was that “the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that hill country came out, and smote them and smashed them to utter destruction.” The Targum Yonasan on Song of Songs 2:7 says that these invaders transgressed the Oath.

It was during this episode that Moses uttered the famous words, “Why do you transgress the word of G-d? It will not succeed.” (Numbers 14:41) The Biblical commentator Ibn Ezra [year___] makes this into a general rule: “In transgressing the command of G-d there cannot be any success.”

After the sin of the spies, when the Jews wanted to invade the Holy Land, Moses warned them with an oath: “Even though the Divine presence is with you in the Tabernacle, you are not allowed to go into the Land until the proper time, at the end of the 40 years in the desert. But they said, “We are ready to go up to the land.” (Numbers 14:40). The end of the story was that the nations of the land beat them and killed them.
(Ibn Ezra, Commentary on Song of Songs 3:9)

The Jewish War Against Rome

The Talmud (Gittin 56a) says: During the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, there were among the Jews some war-mongering zealots. The rabbis said to them: “Let us go out and make peace with the Romans.” But the zealots did not allow them to do that, saying instead, “Let us make war with them!” The rabbis said, “It will not be successful.” So the zealots arose and burned all the city’s stores of wheat and barley, and the people starved. They were thus forced into war by the zealots, and Jerusalem was destroyed.
The commentator Maharsha (1555-1631) explains how the Rabbis knew that it would not be successful. The relationship between the Jews and the Romans was foretold in the conversation between Esau and Jacob in the Torah (Genesis 33:12-14). Esau suggested that he and Jacob travel together – indicating shared leadership. But Jacob said, “Let my master go ahead of his servant” – meaning that the Romans would rule supreme.

Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno wrote that if only the zealots of the Second Temple had followed the example of Jacob humbling himself before Esau, the Temple would not have been destroyed, as Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai testified when he said, “The zealots among us did not allow me [to surrender to the Romans].”

Bar Kochba

In the year 130 CE, Simeon Bar Kochba led a Jewish revolt against Rome and established a Jewish kingdom. This is another one of the cases listed by the Midrash when the oaths were transgressed.

The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 93b) says that when the Jewish Sages of that time realized that Bar Kochba was not the messiah, they killed him. The Jerusalem Talmud says that he was bitten by a snake. His soldiers lost their morale and the Romans crushed the revolt.

“During the reign of Hadrian, when the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of an important fact; namely, that they must never again attempt to restore their national independence by their own power; they were to entrust their future as a nation solely to Divine Providence.”
(Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), Commentary on the Prayer Book , p. 703)

Rabbi Yaakov Emden [maybe explain] in his commentary on the prayer book explains that the “animals of the field” mentioned in Perek Shirah are a hidden reference to the Jews killed in Bar Kochba’s revolt at the city of Beitar. By revolting against the Romans, they transgressed the oath against forcing the end of exile, and thereby incurred the punishment: “I will permit your flesh like the gazelles and deer of the field.” (Kesubos 111a) This is why they are called “animals of the field.”