What Is Ephraim In The Bible


Ephraim is one of the two major tribes of the ancient Israelites according to the Bible. He was the son of the Biblical patriarch Joseph and his wife Asenath, and was born in Egypt. He is spoken of in the books of Genesis and Deuteronomy, and is identified as one of the twelve sons of Jacob. He is regarded as one of the four sons of Joseph and the Bible places him in a prominent position in the early history of Israel. He was also known as one of the lost tribes of Israel.

The Significance of Ephraim in the Bible

The importance of Ephraim in the Bible is highlighted in the expansion of the nation of Israel. Ephraim was the firstborn of Joseph and would become the receptor of the blessings of his father’s father (Jacob). The Patriarch Jacob attempted to give preference to Ephraim in the matter of Blessing, to the chagrin of his older brother Manasseh. This resulted in a so-called prophetic signifying of the role of Ephraim in the early days of the Israelites.
After the Patriarch Jacob died, the descendants of Joseph were divided into two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48:5). The tribe of Ephraim was the larger and stronger of the two, and it was this group that eventually became leaders of the kingdom of Israel. It was believed that Ephraim and Manasseh were both descendants of Joseph, but because of the subsequent growth of the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim’s influence was far greater. The Book of Judges and Books of the Kings explain the history of the rivalry between the two tribes, with the tribe of Ephraim often being victorious (Joel 2:18).

Manasseh and Ephraim: Rivalry and Exaltation

Manasseh was larger than Ephraim but weaker in power and influence. In contrast, Ephraim was a smaller but stronger group that occupied the majority of the northern half of the Promised Land. In addition to being named as the larger and more influential tribe, Ephraim is designated several other important roles in the Bible. In the Book of Amos (900-750 BC), it is said that the northern kingdom of Israel will become “a great nation”, and also that its chief cities would belong to Ephraim (Amos 6:1-2). As the leading tribe of the kingdom of Israel, Ephraim achieved a status of preeminence that has continued until today.

The Role of Ephraim in the Old Testament

Ephraim played a prominent role in the Old Testament, especially in the period of the Judges and the early reign of Saul. It was during this period that Ephraim was recognized as one of the great tribes that formed the northern kingdom of Israel. Ephraim was an important figure in the wars against the Midianites, Moabites, and Ammonites. He also was responsible for appointing and launching rulers for the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and later Joseph. He provided military and political leadership for the kingdom of Israel and was a major player in the division of the kingdom of Israel into two separate nations.

The Role of Ephraim Today

In modern times, Ephraim is rarely mentioned in scholarly or religious discussion. Despite this, he is still remembered and celebrated in the Orthodox Judaism. In Orthodox Judaism, Ephraim is traditionally commemorated during the spring festival of Passover. He is also regarded as a patron saint of Israel, and as a symbol of stability and faithfulness to God in the midst of battle.

Ephraim’s Impact on Christianity

Ephraim is also considered to be an important figure within the Christian faith. In the New Testament, John the Baptist warned the Jews against rejecting Christ by invoking the name of Ephraim (Matthew 3:7-10). He is also mentioned in the writings of St. Paul, who called Ephraim the “s’ir apostolicum,” or the apostolic seed (Romans 9:7-8). Additionally, Ephraim retains a lasting presence in Christianity as a symbol of strength and endurance in the fight against evil.

The Biblical Character of Ephraim

The Biblical character of Ephraim is one of strength and resilience. He was an important political and military figure in the early days of the Israelites, and his influence is still seen today in the way he is remembered and celebrated. In the New Testament, he is mentioned as a figure of spiritual persistence, and an example of faith in the face of doubt and unrest. He is a figure of fortitude, courage and faithfulness, providing inspiration for generations of readers of the Bible.

The Influence of Ephraim on the Nation of Israel

Ephraim is recognized as a significant part of the development of the nation of Israel. His leadership and bravery in battle allowed the nation to emerge victorious and gain recognition as a major presence in the region. Additionally, his impact is still felt today in the many symbols and commemoration of the character within Orthodox Judaism and Christianity.

The Significance of Ephraim in Recent History

The influence of Ephraim can also be seen in recent times. He is often invoked by supporters of the nation of Israel for his commitment to the cause of the Jews and for his courage and leadership. Additionally, the stories of Ephraim are seen as inspirational for today’s Jewish community, and his figure continues to be a focus of study and conversation among Orthodox Jews.


The character of Ephraim is often seen as a symbol of courage, determination, and faith in times of difficulty. His role in the early period of the nation of Israel, and his continued presence in the religious and cultural life of the Jews and Christians, make him a figure of key significance in the Bible. As such, Ephraim’s story remains relevant and inspiring today, as we as we confront our own challenges in life.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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