phraim was the second son of Joseph of Egypt , who gave his name to one of the 12 tribes of Israel. The tribe of Ephraim became very powerful and several important figures came from that tribe. After the country was divided into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel, the name Ephraim came to represent the people of Israel.
After being promoted by Pharaoh, Joseph married an Egyptian and had two children: Manasseh and Ephraim ( Genesis 41: 50-52 ). Years later, when his father Jacob was blind and old, Joseph took his two children to visit him. Joseph placed Manasseh on Jacob’s right and Ephraim on the left to receive his blessing. Jacob, however, crossed his arms and put his right hand on Ephraim’s head!
Joseph thought it was wrong, because Ephraim was the youngest and the right hand represented the blessing of the eldest son, the future head of the family. But Jacob prophesied that Ephraim would become more powerful than Manasseh ( Genesis 48: 19-20 ). Jacob also adopted Ephraim and Manasseh as if they were his children. Thus, they were counted as two tribes, not just as one.
See the story of Joseph of Egypt here.
The Bible does not speak about Ephraim’s life. It just says that he had some children. Two of his sons were killed when they tried to steal the flocks of the people of the city of Gate. This made Ephraim very sad.
Some time later, Ephraim won another son, named Berias, who would be Joshua’s ancestor, who conquered the promised land. Ephraim also had a daughter, Seerah, who founded three cities ( 1 Chronicles 7: 23-24 ).
See also the story of Manasseh.
The tribe of Ephraim
Over time, the tribe of Ephraim grew and became very numerous. In addition to Joshua , some other famous people in the Bible also came from the tribe of Ephraim:
- Judge Deborah
- Jeroboam, Israel’s first king after he separated from Judah
Find out here: who was Deborah in the Bible?
Ephraim’s tribe was also very influential because it was based in the center of the country and had many warriors. The participation of Ephraim’s troops could change the course of a battle. Before the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, the tabernacle was set up for a long time in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim.
When the rest of Israel separated from Judah and the kings who were descendants of David, Jeroboam, who was from Ephraim, became the king of Israel. He established an idolatrous altar at Bethel, which was in the territory of Ephraim ( 1 Kings 12: 28-29 ). This altar became a major religious center in the country , leading Israel to sin.
Later, Samaria, a city in Ephraim, became the capital of the kingdom of Israel. Because of all these links between the tribe of Ephraim and important aspects of the kingdom of Israel, the name Ephraim has become a metaphor for speaking of all the people of Israel . Several references to “Ephraim” in the Bible actually mean the kingdom of Israel, separated from Judah.
Ephraim received a special blessing from God but later suffered great punishment, because the tribe abandoned God ( Hosea 13: 1 ). Despite God’s love, Ephraim (and all the people of Israel) chose sin and idolatry. For this reason, God punished him but did not stop loving his people and calling them to repentance, to receive His forgiveness ( Jeremiah 31: 9 ).