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The Israelite Patriarchs - Ephraim
by Wayne Blank
"his seed shall become a multitude of nations"
Ephraim was the second-born son of Joseph and his Egyptian wife Asenath. Ephraim, in Hebrew pronounced ef-ray-yeem, means doubly fruitful.
"And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. 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 41:50-52 KJV)
When Jacob / Israel knew that he was soon to die ("And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die," Genesis 48:21 KJV), he summoned Joseph to tend to some important family business, in effect his will, but, as we shall see, it was also The Lord's Will that was to be declared. First, the adoption of Jacob's grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh as sons, with the same legal rights as their father and uncles.
"And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. And thy issue, which thou begettest after them, shall be thine, and shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance." (Genesis 48:5-6 KJV)
As mentioned, it was The Lord's Will that was actually being implemented - Israel couldn't even see them, but The Lord guided his hands.
"And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said, Who are these?"
Ephraim's family began in Egypt.
"And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees" (Genesis 50:22-23 KJV)
By the time of the exodus out of Egypt centuries later, the descendants of Ephraim "were forty thousand and five hundred." (see also The Camp)
"And The Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, after their families, by the house of their fathers, with the number of their names, every male by their polls; From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: thou and Aaron shall number them by their armies."
Although the Israelites were led out of Egypt by two Levites, Moses and Aaron, it was a descendant of Ephraim, Joshua, who led them into the Promised Land forty years later. Note in this genealogy in the King James Version that Nun and his son Joshua are translated as "Non his son, Jehoshuah his son." The RSV and most later translations have "Nun his son, Joshua his son," which is nothing more than how various English translators pronounced the original Hebrew names. It was Moses who changed his name to (according to the various English translations) Joshua / Jehoshuah from Hoshea / Oshea ("And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua," Numbers 13:16 KJV).
"And Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him. And when he went in to his wife, she conceived, and bare a son, and he called his name Beriah, because it went evil with his house. And his daughter was Sherah, who built Bethhoron the nether, and the upper, and Uzzensherah. And Rephah was his son, also Resheph, and Telah his son, and Tahan his son, Laadan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Non his son, Jehoshuah his son." (1 Chronicles 7:22-27 KJV)
At the time that Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel and Judah (see When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"), the kingdom of Judah had a king of the tribe of Judah, Rehoboam, while the kingdom of Israel had a king from the tribe of Ephraim, Jeroboam (see Kings of Israel and Judah; also Israelite Dynasties). Both Shechem and Shiloh were in the territory of Ephraim.
"And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only." (1 Kings 12:20 KJV)
"Ephraim" is mentioned in a number of prophecies, including one in which the division of Judah and Israel will be healed. Keep in mind, as shown above, that they split at the time when their leaders were of the tribes of Judah and Ephraim; the future gathering of Israel and Judah describes the end to that division between Judah and Ephraim.
"Say unto them, Thus saith The Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith The Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all" (Ezekiel 37:19-22 KJV)
Fact Finder: What other sort of gathering will occur around the time that Israel and Judah are physically gathered?