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Ephraim's glory is like the firstling of his bullocks and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth. ~ Deuteronomy 33:17
Son of Joseph and Asenath.

And unto Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him.Gen. 46: 20

And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. Gen. 41: 52

1 AND it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
5 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.
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
Genesis 48:1, 5, 13-14,17,20

And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. Genesis 50: 23

The tribe of Ephraim miscalculated the time of the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, and left the country thirty years before the appointed time. They were met by a hostile host of Philistines, who offered them battle, in which the Ephraimites lost 300,000 men (according to Pesi?., 180,000; according to Pir?e R. El., 200,000). Their bones were strewn in heaps along the roads. According to the "Sefer ha-Yashar" (see Shemot), this event took place in the 180th year after the Israelites went to Egypt, when 30,000 infantry from the tribe of Ephraim left Egypt. The battle was waged near Gath. Because they rebelled against the word of God in leaving Egypt before the end of the captivity destined by God had arrived, all except ten were slain. The Philistines lost in the battle 20,000 men. The ten men who escaped from the battle returned to Egypt and related to their brethren what had happened to them. Ephraim, who was still alive, mourned over them many days. That the children of Israel might not see the bleached bones of the slain of Ephraim and return to Egypt, God led them to Canaan by circuitous ways (Ex. R. xx.). (S4).

The slain Ephraimites were subsequently resuscitated by Ezekiel (Sanh. 92b). (?). (S4).

Ephraim's banner was painted black, and bore the picture of a bullock (Num. R. ii.); Moses alluded to it when he said of Joseph:
"The firstling of his bullock, majesty is his" (Deut. xxxiii. 17, R. V.).
In the camp during the Exodus, Ephraim occupied the west side; from the west come the severest winds, and also heat and cold; to these Ephraim's strength is compared (Num. R. ii.). As God created the four cardinal points and placed against them the standards of four of the tribes, so He surrounded His throne with four angels, the angel to the west being Raphael ("the Healer"), who was to heal the breach wrought by Ephraim's descendant, King Jeroboam (Ex. R. vii.). See Messiah.S. S. I. Br. (S4).

Adopted by Jacob - Gen 48:5

Blessed before Manasseh; prophecies concerning - Gen 48:14-20

Descendants of - Num 26:35-37; 1Chr 7:20-27

Mourned for his sons - 1Chr 7:21,22

Numbered at Mount Sinai and in plains of Moab - Num 1:33; 26:37

Position in camp and march - Num 2:18,24; 10:22

Blessed by Moses - Deut 33:13-17

Territory allotted to, after the conquest of Canaan - Josh 16:5-9; 17:9,10,15-18; 1Chr 7:28,29

Failed to expel the Canaanites - Josh 16:10

Captured Beth-el in battle - Judg 1:22-25

Rebuked Gideon for not summoning them to join the war against the Midianites - Judg 8:1

Joined Gideon against the Midianites - Judg 7:24,25

Their jealousy of Jephthah - Judg 12:1

Defeated by him - Judg 12:4-6

Received Ish-bosheth as king - 2Sam 2:9

Jeroboam set up a golden calf in Beth-el - 1Ki 12:29

Revolted from house of David - 1Ki 12:25; 2Chr 10:16

Some of tribe joined Judah under Asa - 2Chr 15:9

Chastised Ahaz and Judah - 2Chr 28:7

Joined Hezekiah in reinstituting the Passover - 2Chr 30:18

Joined in the destruction of idolatrous forms in Jerusalem - 2Chr 31:1

Submitted to the scepter of Josiah - 2Chr 34:1-6

Envied by other tribes - Isa 11:13; Jer 7:15; Eze 37:16,19; Hos 13:1

Worshiped Baal - Hos 13:1

Sin of, remembered by God - Hos 13:12

Reallotment of territory, to, by Ezekiel - Eze 48:5

Name of, applied to the ten tribes - 2Chr 17:2; 25:6,7; Isa 7:8,9; 11:12,13; 17:3; Jer 31:18,20; Hos 4:17; 5:3,5; 6:4,10; 8:11; 12:14

Prophecy concerning its conversion - Jer 31:6


A forest east of the Jordan River Absalom killed in - 2Sam 18:6-17

A gate of Jerusalem - 2Ki 14:13; 2Chr 25:23; Neh 8:16; 12:39

A city in the territory of Ephraim - 2Chr 13:19

Jesus escapes to, from the persecution of Caiaphas - John 11:54.

2. A tribe of Israel.

Prophecy concerning - Gen 49:25,26; Isa 7; 9:18-21; 11:13; 28:1; Jer 31; Hos 5:14; Zech 9:10; 10:7

Tribe of Ephraim, called JOSEPH - Rev 7:8

Mount of Ephraim.
A range of low mountains - Josh 17:15-18
Joshua has his inheritance in - Judg 2:9
Residence of Micah - Judg 17:8
A place of hiding for Israelites - 1Sam 14:22
Sheba resides in - 2Sam 20:21
Noted for rich pastures - Jer 50:19

Rhea. {S5}.

CHILDREN of Ephraim:



[S6] http://www.uahc.org/torah/issue/021019.shtml. October 19, 2002 vol. 7, no. 3 13 Cheshvan 5763. Parashat Lech L'cha, Genesis 12:1–17:27. The Torah: A Modern Commentary pp. 91-117. AND YOU SHALL BE A BLESSING. Sharon G. Forman.


Genesis 12:2–3. I will make of you a great nation,/And I will bless you;/I will make your name great,/And you shall be a blessing./I will bless those who bless you/And curse him that curses you;/And all the families of the earth/Shall bless themselves by you.

A visitor peeking into the classrooms of our religious school might see students who have just studied Lech L’cha huddled over a tremendous mural they created that depicts this parashah. The variety of materials used in the mural—crayons, markers, glued-on glitter, tissue paper, and even feathers—reflects the collage of ideas and stories that, cobbled together, make this portion both fascinating and difficult to penetrate. And of all the themes inherent in the chapters of Lech L’cha, the concept of blessing is a constant.

The Jews are a people familiar with blessings. In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir instructs us to say at least one hundred blessings each day. On Shabbat evening, it is traditional for parents to offer blessings to their children. To a daughter, a parent prefaces the Priestly Benediction with the traditional liturgical formula “May God make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah.” And what is the parallel blessing for a son? Is it to be like Abraham, our forefather? Oddly, boys are not encouraged to be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh” is our prayer for our sons.

Perhaps the tradition invoking the names of Joseph’s children, Ephraim and Manasseh, arose in order to remind us of the reunion between Joseph and Jacob and Jacob’s blessing of his grandsons (Genesis 48). But what about Abraham? Doesn’t Nachmanides tell us that we should aspire to be blessed in Abraham’s name? Isn’t Abraham himself considered to be “a blessing”? But the people whose lives were touched directly by Abraham may not have felt so blessed. Sarah struggled during her life with Abraham. Hagar (who midrash tells us was formerly an Egyptian princess) was shunned by her mistress and exiled to the wilderness, then mistreated upon her uncelebrated return. Isaac was almost sacrificed by his own father. So was Abraham really such a blessing to those around him in his own generation?

Perhaps the blessings Abraham brings are his gifts to future generations. Abraham’s legacy is evident in the promise of his descendants Ephraim and Manasseh, two boys he never met. Their existence ensures the continuation of the covenant between Abraham and his God and the prayer that “all the families of the earth/Shall bless themselves by you” (Genesis 12:3).

When we bless our own children, we recall the merit of our ancestors. But by asking God to make our children like Ephraim and Manasseh, we express the hope that our children will be allowed to grow into their own blessings. We realize that being a blessing involves raising the mundane fact of our biological existence into something more sacred and meaningful. Like Abraham, we, too, must take a journey from the accident of who and where we are to who we wish to become. We can become blessings through the work we do, our relationships with others, and our connection with the Divine: Ve’h’yeih b’rachah, “And you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).


“And you shall be a blessing.” You will be the blessing by whom people will be blessed, saying, “God make thee like Abraham.” (Nachmanides on Genesis 12:2)

The promise/demand of God is, “I will make of you a great nation,” which the Tanchuma translates, “I shall create you anew.” In this reading, the call of lech l’cha is an urging to self-transformation: at base, that is the meaning of a change of name or a change of place. (Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis, Image Books, Doubleday, New York, 1995)

The life of men with whom new histories begin can seldom or never be a sheer unclouded blessing; not this it is which their consciousness of self whispers in their ears. “And thou shalt be a destiny”: Such is the purer and more precise meaning of the promise…. (Thomas Mann, quoted in The Torah: A Modern Commentary, edited by Gunther W. Plaut, UAHC Press, New York, 1981, p. 95)


According to the Ramban, what does “being a blessing” mean? If a person “is a blessing,” does he or she necessarily bring comfort or joy to those around him or her?

Rabbi Sharon G. Forman is the principal of Temple Shaaray Tefila Religious School: The Rabbi Harvey M. Tattelbaum School of Judaism, New York, NY.

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