Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: Double ash heap, I shall be doubly fruitful, double fruitful
Strong's Concordance #H669, #G2187

The name Ephraim not only designates a person but also the tribe he started and their inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 16:5 - 9). It is Biblically used for a city and part of a mountain range in the heart of Israel. Additionally, a forest, a gate, and a symbolic reference to the northern ten tribes of Israel also uses the name.

Ephraim is the name of Joseph's youngest of two sons, the firstborn being Manasseh (Genesis 41:52). After Jacob (Israel) migrated to the country with his entire family, he "adopted" the two boys and made them the primary partakers of God's blessings. Though not the firstborn, God selected him and his descendants to be the leading Israelite tribe (Genesis 48).

Part of a mountain range that runs through their territory is referred to as "mount Ephraim" (Joshua 17:15, 19:50).

Ephraim's inheritance in the Promised Land
Ephraim's Inheritance in the Promised Land

The prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 7:2), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:6), Hosea (Hosea 4:17) and others sometimes used the name to symbolize all the northern ten tribes of Israel (the Kingdom of Israel) that existed after the nation split in two.

The forest (wood) of Ephraim was the place where King David's son Absalom, who sought to replace his father as ruler, was killed by Joab (2Samuel 13 - 19).

Biblical commentaries speculate the city named after the tribe may have been previously known as Ophrah (Joshua 18:23) or possibly Ephron (2Chronicles 13:19).

Jealous Tribe

The tribe, taking its role as the leader of Israel a bit too seriously, took on a spirit of jealousy and rivalry when its status was not recognized. They severely chastised Gideon for not including them in his fight against the Midianites, even though God only needed three hundred men to defeat them (Judges 8:1 - 3).

When God used Jephthah to defeat the Ammonites, the Ephraimites protested that they were not called to help (Judges 12:1). They protested in spite of the fact that they rejected an earlier request for assistance against the enemy. They pressed the issue so strongly that Jephthah and the Gileadites had to fight and kill 42,000 of them for their demands to cease (verses 2 - 6)!

New Testament Visit

Jesus, toward the end of his life, travelled to the city of Ephraim to avoid threats against his life (John 11:54).

Important Verses


Genesis 41:52
And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Genesis 48:20
And he (Jacob) blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh . . .

Tribal name

Joshua 16:5
And the border of the children of Ephraim according to their families was thus: even the border of their inheritance on the east side was Atarothaddar, unto Bethhoron the upper;

Mountain range

Joshua 17:15
And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.


2Samuel 18:5 - 6
And the king (David) commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom . . . So the people went out into the field against Israel: and the battle was in the wood of Ephraim . . .


Isaiah 7:2
And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.


John 11:53 - 54
Then from that day forth they (the Jews) took counsel together for to put him (Jesus) to death.

Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
References are based on the
King James Bible translation (KJV).