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Ephratah

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[some Ephra'tah] (Hebrews Ephra'thah, אֶפְרָתָה, Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19; Genesis 48:7 twice; Psalms 132:6; Micah 5:1; 1 Chronicles 2:50; 1 Chronicles 4:4; Sept. Ε᾿φραθά or Ε᾿φραθᾶ ,Vulg. Ephrata, A.V. "Ephratah" in all but Genesis and the last-named passage of Chron., where it gives " Ephrath"), a prolonged [or sometimes "directive"] form of Eph'rath (Hebrew Ephrath', אֶפְרָת, probably fruitful, 1 Chronicles 2:19; Sept. Φράθ, Vulg. Ephrata), the name of a woman and of one or two places.

1. The second wife of Caleb, the son of Hezron, mother of Hur, and grandmother of Caleb the spy, according to 1 Chronicles 2:19; 1 Chronicles 2:50, and probably 24 (See CALEB-EPHRATAH), and 4:4, in which last passage Hur is apparently called "the father (i.e., founder) of Bethlehem" (see below). B.C. post 1856. 2. The ancient name of Bethlehem in Judah, as is manifest from Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:10; Genesis 48:7, both which passages distinctly prove that it was called Ephrath or Ephratah in Jacob's time, and use the regular formula for adding the modern name, הַיא בִיתאּלֶחֶם, which is Bethlehem (comp. e.g. Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27; Joshua 15:10). It cannot, therefore, have derived its name from Ephratah, the mother of Hur, as the author of Quaest. Hebr. in Paraleip. says, and as one might otherwise have supposed from the connection of her descendants, Salma and Hur, with Bethlehem, which is somewhat obscurely intimated in 1 Chronicles 2:50-51; 1 Chronicles 4:4. It seems obvious, therefore, to infer that, on the contrary, Ephratah, the mother of Hur, was so called from the town of her birth, and that she probably was the owner of the town and district; in fact, that her name was really gentilitious. But if this be so, it would indicate more communication between the Israelites in Egypt and the Canaanites than is commonly supposed. When, however, we recollect that the land of Goshen was the border country on the Palestine side; that the Israelites in Goshen were a tribe of sheep and cattle drovers (Genesis 47:3); that there was an easy communication between Palestine and Egypt from the earliest times (Genesis 12:10; Genesis 16:1; Genesis 21:21, etc.); that there are indications of communications between the Israelites in Egypt and the Canaanites, caused by their trade as keepers of cattle (1 Chronicles 7:21); and that, in the nature of things, the owners or keepers of large herds and flocks in Goshen would have dealings with the nomad tribes in Palestine, it will perhaps seem not impossible that a son of Hezron may have married a woman having property in Ephratah. Another way of accounting for the connection between Ephratah's descendants and Bethlehem, is to suppose that the elder Caleb was not really the son of Hezron, but merely reckoned so as the head of a Hezronite house.

He may in this case have been one of an Edomitish or Horite tribe an idea which is favored by the name of his son Hur, (See CALEB), and have married an Ephrathite. Caleb the spy may have been their grandson. It is singular that "Salma, the father of Bethlehem," should have married a Canaanitish woman. Could she have been of the kindred of Caleb in any way? If she were, and if Salma obtained Bethlehem, a portion of Hur's inheritance, in consequence, this would account for both Hur and Salma being called "father of Bethlehem." Another possible explanation is, that Ephratah may have been the name given to some daughter of Benjamin to commemorate the circumstance of Rachel his mother having died close to Ephrath. This would receive some support from the son of Rachel's other son Joseph being called Ephraim, a word of identical etymology, as appears from the fact that אֶפְרָתַי means indifferently an Ephrathite, i.e., Bethlehemite (Ruth 1:1-2), or an Ephraimite (1 Samuel 1:1). But it would not account for Ephratah's descendants being settled at Bethlehem. From Ruth 1:2, where the sons of Naomi are called" Ephrathites of Bethlehem [of] Judah," it would seem that Ephrath was the name of a district of which Bethlehem was the chief town; and the designation of Micah 4:2 as "Bethlehem [of] Ephratah," is rendered in Matthew 2:6, "Bethlehem [in the] land (γ ' η ) of Judah," as if to distinguish it by adding the name of a district, although a larger one (Lange, Comment. on Matthew in loc.). At all events we should note that in Genesis, and perhaps in Chronicles, it is called Ephrath or Ephratah; in Ruth, Bethlehem-Judah, but the inhabitants Ephrathites; in Micah, Bethlehem-Ephratah; in Matthew Bethlehem in the land of Juda. The Sept. supplies [Ε᾿φραθά (αὕτη ἐστὶ Βηθλέεμ )] its omission among the cities of Judah in Joshua 15:60 (see Reineccius, Progr. on this point, Weissenfels, 1723). Jerome, and after him Kalisch, observe that Ephratah,.fruitful, has the same meaning as Bethlehem, house of bread, a view which is favored by the neighboring cornfields. Ver Poortenn has written monographs entitled Tabernacula Dei in Ephrata [Psalms 133:1-3 (Coburg, 1739); Initia Bethlehemi (ib. 1728); also two: entitled Fata Bethlehemi (both ib. eod.). (See BETHLEHEM).

3. Gesenius and others think that in Psalms 132:6, "Ephratah" means EPHRAIM (See EPHRAIM) (q.v.). The meaning of that passage, however, is greatly disputed. The. most obvious reference is to Bethlehem, which is elsewhere known by that name (see above), and may herebe spoken of as the residence of David at the time when as a youth he first heard of the sacred ark (so Hengstenberg, in loc.). Others consider the name asequivalent to the tribe Ephraim (comp. Ephrathite for Ephraimite, Judges 12:5), which contained Shiloh, the depository of Jehovah's early favor (so Good, in loc., as most interpreters; Delitzsch, Commentar. itber d. Psalter, 2:265, argues at length in favor of this view). Perhaps the best explanation is that which refers the word to Matthew Ephraim (as a special designation of that part of the tribe which contained Shiloh), in parallelism with the other part of the verse alluding to the forest. Hupfeld (in loc.), however, considers it as; merely a poetical term for fruitful field, e.g. Beth- shemesh, the latter part of the verse alluding to Kirjathjearim as the " wood" (יִעִר, yaar).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ephratah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/e/ephratah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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