What the scriptures say about
EPHRAIM
Younger but greater son of Joseph, son of Jacob (Israel)

The area of Israel (divided northern kingdom) where the city of Samaria was

EPHRAIM in scriptures [BibleGateway Search]

select Cross Reference Bible links
Gen 41:52, 46:20, 48:17-20, 50:23
Numbers 1:10, 1:32-33
Deuteromony 33:17; Joshua 14:4; Judges 1:29, 4:4-5
Judges 5:14 - Those whose root is in Amalek came out of Ephraim ...
Judges 12:1-6 - ... Now say ‘Shibboleth’”...
Hosea 1-2 (children of Israel); 5:3, 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10:11 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14:8
Eze 37:16; Jer 31:6-9

Abraham's seed: Gen 15:2-5; 26:3; 28:4;
Strangers in Canaan: Heb 11:8-9
Foreigners joined to Yahweh: Isa 56:3,6-8; Eph 2:11-22


EPHRAIM [Easton Bible Dictionary]

Double fruitfulness ("for God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction"). The second son of Joseph, born in Egypt (Genesis 41:52; 46:20). The first incident recorded regarding him is his being placed, along with his brother Manasseh, before their grandfather, Jacob, that he might bless them (48:10; Compare 27:1). The intention of Joseph was that the right hand of the aged patriarch should be placed on the head of the elder of the two; but Jacob set Ephraim the younger before his brother, "guiding his hands wittingly." Before Joseph's death, Ephraim's family had reached the third generation (Genesis 50:23).

EPHRAIM, Tribe of [Easton Bible Dictionary]

Took precedence over that of Manasseh by virtue of Jacob's blessing (Genesis 41:52; 48:1). The descendants of Joseph formed two of the tribes of Israel, whereas each of the other sons of Jacob was the founder of only one tribe. Thus there were in reality thirteen tribes; but the number twelve was preserved by excluding that of Levi when Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned separately (Numbers 1:32-34; Joshua 17:14,17; 1 Chronicles 7:20).

Territory of. At the time of the first census in the wilderness this tribe numbered 40,500 (Numbers 1:32,33); forty years later, when about to take possession of the Promised Land, it numbered only 32,500. During the march (see CAMP) Ephraim's place was on the west side of the tabernacle (Numbers 2:18-24). When the spies were sent out to spy the land, "Oshea the son of Nun" of this tribe signalized himself.

The boundaries of the portion of the land assigned to Ephraim are given in Joshua 16:1-10. It included most of what was afterwards called Samaria as distinguished from Judea and Galilee. It thus lay in the centre of all traffic, from north to south, and from Jordan to the sea, and was about 55 miles long and 30 broad. The tabernacle and the ark were deposited within its limits at Shiloh, where it remained for four hundred years. During the time of the judges and the first stage of the monarchy this tribe manifested a domineering and haughty and discontented spirit. "For more than five hundred years, a period equal to that which elapsed between the Norman Conquest and the War of the Roses, Ephraim, with its two dependent tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin, exercised undisputed pre-eminence. Joshua the first conqueror, Gideon the greatest of the judges, and Saul the first king, belonged to one or other of the three tribes. It was not till the close of the first period of Jewish history that God 'refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he loved' (Psalms 78:67,68). When the ark was removed from Shiloh to Zion the power of Ephraim was humbled."

Among the causes which operated to bring about the disruption of Israel was Ephraim's jealousy of the growing power of Judah. From the settlement of Canaan till the time of David and Solomon, Ephraim had held the place of honour among the tribes. It occupied the central and fairest portions of the land, and had Shiloh and Shechem within its borders. But now when Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom, and the centre of power and worship for the whole nation of Israel, Ephraim declined in influence. The discontent came to a crisis by Rehoboam's refusal to grant certain redresses that were demanded (1 Kings 12).


EPHRAIM [Smith Bible Dictionary]

(double fruitfulness),
- the second son of Joseph by his wife Asenath. (B.C. 1715-1708.) The first indication we have of that ascendancy over his elder brother Manasseh which at a later period the tribe of Ephraim so unmistakably possessed is in the blessing of the children by Jacob. (Genesis 48:1) ...

- that portion of Canaan named after Joseph’s second son. (Genesis 41:50-52) The boundaries of the portion of Ephraim are given in (Joshua 16:1-10) The south boundary was coincident for part of its length with the north boundary of Benjamin. It extended from the Jordan on the east, at the reach opposite Jericho, to the Mediterranean on the west, probably about Joppa. On the north of Ephraim and Manasseh were the tribes of Asher, Zebulun and Issachar. The territory thus allotted to the "house of Joseph" may be roughly estimated at 55 miles from east to west by 70 from north to south. It was one at once of great richness and great security. Its fertile plains and well-watered valleys could only be reached by a laborious ascent through steep and narrow ravines, all but impassable for an army. Under Joshua the tribe must have taken a high position in the nation, to judge from the tone which the Ephraimites assumed on occasions shortly subsequent to the conquest. After the revolt of Jeroboam the history of Ephraim is the history of the kingdom of Israel, since not only did the tribe become a kingdom, but the kingdom embraced little besides the tribe.

- In "Baal-hazor which is by Ephraim" was Absalom’s sheepfarm, at which took place the murder of Amnon, one of the earliest precursors of the great revolt. (2 Samuel 13:23) There is no clue to its situation.

- a city "in the district near the wilderness" to which our Lord retired with his disciples when threatened with violence by the priests. (John 11:54)


EPHRAIM [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]

e'-fra-im, e'-fra-im ('ephrayim, "double fruit"):

1. The Patriarch:

The younger of the two sons of Joseph and Asenath, born in Egypt. He and his brother Manasseh were adopted by Jacob, and ranked as his own sons, each becoming the ancestor of a tribe in Israel. In blessing his grandchildren, despite their father's protest, Jacob preferred the younger, foreshadowing the future eminence of his descendants (Genesis 41:50 ff; Genesis 48:20 ff). In the Blessing of Jacob however, the two are included under the name of Joseph (Genesis 49:22 f).
2. The Tribe:
At the first census on leaving Egypt, Ephraim's men of war numbered 40,500; and at the second census they are given as 32,500 (Numbers 1:33; 26:37). See, however, article NUMBERS. The head of the tribe at the Exodus was Elishama, son of Ammihud (Numbers 1:10). With the standard of the tribe of Ephraim on the West of the tabernacle in the desert march were Manasseh and Benjamin (Numbers 2:18 ff). The Ephraimite among the spies was Hoshea (i.e. Joshua), the son of Nun (Numbers 13:8). At the division of the land Ephraim was represented by prince Kemuel, son of Shiphtan (Numbers 34:24). The future power of this tribe is again foreshadowed in the Blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:17). When Moses died, a member of the tribe, Joshua, whose faith and courage had distinguished him among the spies, succeeded to the chief place in Israel. It was natural that the scene of national assemblies, and the center of the nation's worship, should be chosen within the land occupied by the children of Joseph, at Shechem and Shiloh respectively. The leadership of Ephraim was further emphasized by the rule of Samuel. From the beginning of life in Palestine they enjoyed a certain prestige, and were very sensitive on the point of honor (Judges 7:24; 8:1; 12:1 ff). Their acceptance of and loyalty to Saul, the first king chosen over Israel, may be explained by his belonging to a Rachel tribe, and by the close and tender relations existing between Joseph and Benjamin. But they were never reconciled to the passing of the scepter to Judah in the person of David (2 Samuel 2:8 f). That Israel would have submitted to the sovereignty of Absalom, any more than to that of David, is not to be believed; but his revolt furnished an opportunity to deal a shrewd blow at the power of the southern tribe (2 Samuel 15:13). Solomon's lack of wisdom and the crass folly of Rehoboam in the management of the northern tribes fanned the smoldering discontent into a fierce flame. This made easy the work of the rebel Jeroboam; and from the day of the disruption till the fall of the Northern Kingdom there was none to dispute the supremacy of Ephraim, the names Ephraim and Israel being synonymous. The most distinguished of Ephraim's sons were Joshua, Samuel and Jeroboam I.
3. The Territory:
The central part of Western Palestine fell to the children of Joseph; and, while the boundaries of the territory allotted to Ephraim and Manasseh respectively are given in Joshua 16; 17:1 ff, it seems to have been held by them in common for some time (Joshua 17:14). The Canaanites in certain cities of both divisions were not driven out. It was probably thought more profitable to enslave them (Joshua 16:10; 17:13). The boundaries of Ephraim cannot be followed with accuracy, but roughly, they were as follows: The southern boundary, agreeing with the northern border of Benjamin, started from Bethel, and passed down westward by nether Beth-horon and Gezer toward the sea (Joshua 16:3; in verse 5 it stops at upper Beth-horon); it turned northward to the southern bank of the brook Kanah (Wady Kanah) along which it ran eastward (Joshua 17:10) to Michmethath (the plain of Mukhneh); thence it went northward along the western edge of the plain to Shechem. It then bent eastward and southward past Taanath-shiloh (Ta`ana), Janoah (Yankun) to Ataroth and Naarah (unidentified) and the Jordan (Joshua 16:7). From Ataroth, which probably corresponds to Ataroth-addar (Joshua 16:5), possibly identical with the modern et-Truneh, the southern border passed up to Bethel. Along the eastern front of the land thus defined there is a steep descent into the Jordan valley. It is torn by many gorges, and is rocky and unfruitful. The long slopes to the westward, however, furnish much of the finest land in Palestine. Well watered as it is, the valleys are beautiful in season with cornfields, vineyards, olives and other fruit trees. The uplands are accessible at many points from the maritime plain; but the great avenue of entrance to the country runs up Wady esh-Sha`ir to Nablus, whence, threading the pass between Gerizim and Ebal, it descends to the Jordan valley. In this favored region the people must have lived in the main a prosperous and happy life. How appropriate are the prophetic allusions to these conditions in the days of Ephraim's moral decay (Isaiah 28:1,4; Jeremiah 31:18; Hosea 9:13; 10:11, etc.)!
W. Ewing

Also:

(1) A position apparently of some importance, since the position of Baal-hazor (probably = Tell `Asur) where Abraham's sheep-farm was located, is determined by relation to it (2 Samuel 13:23). That it lay North of Jerusalem seems to be indicated in 2 Samuel 13:34. It may be identical with the Ephraim of Eusebius, Onomasticon, 20 Roman miles North of Jerusalem, and therefore to be sought somewhere in the neighborhood of Sinjil and el- Lubban. Connected with this may have been the name Aphaerema, a district in Samaria mentioned in 1 Macc 11:34; Ant, XIII, iv, 9.

(2) The town near the wilderness to which Jesus retired after the raising of Lazarus (John 11:54). This probably corresponds to Ephrem of Eusebius, Onomasticon (s.v. "Afra") 5 Roman miles East of Bethel. This may be the place named along with Bethel by Josephus (BJ, IV, ix, 9). It probably answers to eT-Taiyebeh, a large village about 4 miles North of Beitin. The antiquity of the site is attested by the cisterns and rock tombs. It stands on a high hill with a wide outlook including the plains of Jericho and the Dead Sea.

See EPHRON (1) .

W. Ewing


EPHRAIM [Thompson Chain Reference]
# Son of Joseph

    * Genesis 41:52
    * Genesis 48:5
    * Genesis 48:14
    * 1 Chronicles 7:20

# Tribe of

    * Numbers 1:33
    * Deuteronomy 33:17
    * Joshua 16:5
    * Judges 1:22
    * Judges 8:1
    * Judges 12:1
    * 2 Samuel 2:9
    * 2 Chronicles 15:9
    * 2 Chronicles 28:7
    * Isaiah 11:13

# Town of

    * 2 Samuel 13:23
    * 2 Chronicles 13:19
    * John 11:54

# A Gate of Jerusalem

    * 2 Kings 14:13
    * Nehemiah 8:16
    * Nehemiah 12:39 

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