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Holman Bible Dictionary


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(ehf' ruh tah) Place and personal name meaning, “fruitful.” Modern translations spell Ephrathah. 1. Town near which Jacob buried his wife Rachel (Genesis 35:16-19 ; usually translated in English as Ephrath). Genesis 36:16 seems to indicate that Ephrath(ah) must have been near Bethel. This is supported by 1 Samuel 10:2 ; Jeremiah 31:15 which place Rachel's tomb near Ramah on the border between the tribal territories of Ephraim and Benjamin. Genesis 35:19 , however, identifies Ephrath(ah) with Bethlehem. Compare Genesis 48:7 . It is part of Judah's tribal territory according to the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament, words omitted in current Hebrew manuscripts (Joshua 15:59 REB). Micah 5:2 also appears to equate Bethlehem and Ephrath(ah) as the home of the coming Messiah. This, in turn, was based on Bethlehem ( 1 Samuel 16:1 ) and Ephrath(ah) (1 Samuel 17:12 ) as the home of David's father Jesse and thus of David. In sending Messiah, God chose to start over at David's birthplace. Naomi's husband Elimelech was an Ephrathite from Bethlehem (Ruth 1:2 ). In Ruth 4:11 Bethlehem and Ephrathah are apparently identified in poetic parallelism. It may be that Ephrathah was a clan name of a family in Bethlehem whose importance made the clan name a synonym for the city. The parallelism in Psalm 132:6 seems to equate Ephrathah with “the field of Jaar” (NAS and most modern translations). This would be Kiriath-jearim, though two different resting points of the ark—Bethlehem and Kiriath-jearim—may be intended here. The identification with Kiriath-jearim could be supported by the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 2:1 which lists both personal and place names. Shobal, the founder of Kiriath-jearim, was the son of Ephrathah, Caleb's wife (1Chronicles 2:19, 1 Chronicles 2:50 ). In 1 Chronicles 4:4 Ephrathah's son Hur was the father of Bethlehem. Ephrathah may have been a clan name associated with several different geographical localities, the most famous of which was Bethlehem. The textual and geographical connections are not always easy to figure out. 2. Caeb's wife ( 1 Chronicles 2:50 ; spelled Ephrath in 1 Chronicles 2:19 ; compare 1 Chronicles 4:4 ).

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Ephratah'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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