In this week’s Parashah, Parashat Vayechi, Yisrael (Yaakov/Jacob) is dying and Yoseph (Joseph) brings
his two children to Yisrael so that he could bless them before he dies. In the narrative Yisrael
adopts Yoseph’s children as his own (48:5). This is
the source verse for the origins of the half tribe of Manasseh and the half tribe of Ephraim that are
mentioned later on in the Torah. Yisrael also mentions that his wife Rachel died while he was traveling
to Ephrat (Bethlehem). I find it interesting that he mentions Ephrat as the destination of his journey
in the land of Canaan. Ephratah means fruitful in Hebrew. Ephratah was the second wife of Caleb,
the son of Hezron, mother of Hur; Caleb was one of the men sent to spy out the land
(1 Chronicles 2:19 and 2:50).
Ephratah was the ancient name of Bethlehem in Judah according to Bereshit / Genesis 35:16, 35:19, and 48:7.
In Ruth 1:2 the town is called “Bethlehem-Judah,” whose inhabitants
were called “Ephrathites“ in
Micah 5:2. The city was also called “Bethlehem-Ephratah“
in Matthew 2:6, “Bethlehem in the
land of Judah.” In Tehilim / Psalms 132:6 it is mentioned
as the place where David spent his youth, and where he heard the Torah and the Ark of the Covenant he saw at
Kirjath-jearim in 1 Samuel 7:1 and
2 Samuel 6:3-4. Ephrat (Bethlehem) is an important city throughout the history of Yisrael
and to God.
Read More here.