Ephrath

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Ephrath or Ephratah (Hebrew: אפרת\ה‎) is the name of a Biblical place or tribe.

The first mention of Ephrath occurs in Genesis,[1] in reference to where Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin and is buried on the road from Bethel. A very old tradition is that Ephrath refers to Bethlehem,[2] and thus that she died on the way there, reflected by the ancient Tomb of Rachel at the city's entrance.

However, some modern scholars have placed this location closer to Bethel, in the vicinity of Ramallah, based on verses in Samuel I[3] and Jeremiah.[4] A prime candidate according to this view is a site known in Arabic as "kubur beni israil" ("burial of the Children of Israel"), and is adjacent to the "Farah" wadi, whose name recalls "Ephrath".[1]

Throughout much of the Bible,[5] Ephrath is a description for members of the Israelite tribe of Ephraim, as well as for the possible founders of Bethlehem.[6]

The birth of Jesus in nearby Bethlehem in the territory of or "towards Ephrata" (Bethlehem Ephrata) has always been accounted by Christians a fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah (5:2) [5:1 by Judaism's count]:

Ephrath was the wife of Caleb (son of Hezron) and mother of Hur (I Chronicles ii. 19 and 50; iv. 4). According to Jewish tradition this was another name for Miriam.

Geographic Names

Some modern places are named after Ephrath:

The Israeli settlement of Efrat, near Bethlehem
The town of Ephrata, Pennsylvania
The town of Ephratah, New York
The town of Ephrata, Washington

References

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