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Ephratah (also rendered as Ephrath) was the more ancient name of Bethlehem, or the area around Bethlehem that Bethlehem itself was also known as e.g. "do thou worthily in Ephratah and be famous in Bethlehem" (Ruth 4:11 KJV). In Hebrew, Bethlehem (pronounced in Hebrew as bayth-leh-khem) means house of bread while Ephratah / Ephrath (pronounced in Hebrew as ef-raw-thaw) means fruitful. Technically, since He was born there, Jesus Christ could be included among those known as Ephrathites.

"Ephrath, which is Bethlehem"

King David was an Ephrathite ("David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse," 1 Samuel 17:12 KJV); David referred to Ephratah in this prophetic Psalm (see also Christ In The Psalms).

Map of Bethlehem

"A Song of degrees. Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions: How he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; Surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, Until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob. Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength. Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy. For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed." (Psalm 132:1-10 KJV)

"Bethlehem Ephratah" is plainly stated in this prophecy as the birthplace of the Messiah.

"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2 KJV)

"Ephrath, which is Bethlehem" was the birthplace of the Israelite patriarch Benjamin - where his mother Rachel tragically died and was buried.

"And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour. And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, for she died, that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem"

Fact Finder: Were there actually two towns in the land of Israel called Bethlehem?
See Two Bethlehems

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