Today’s name is Eph•ra•im (pronounced like Ef•ra•yim), Ephraim.
You may remember that Jacob, who wanted to marry Rachel and worked for 7 years to win her, was cheated by her father, Laban, who gave him at the wedding night his other daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. He was forced to serve Laban for 7 more years for the right to marry Rachel, whom he loved. According to the Hebrew Bible, Leah was hated by Jacob, but God opened her womb and gave her six sons and one daughter, while Rachel was still barren. With the births of Joseph and Benjamin, Rachel’s honor was restored by God, though she died while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. Benjamin became the father of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, but his brother, Yosef (Joseph), never did. Instead of Joseph, his two sons from his Egyptian wife, Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, became the fathers of two tribes of the 12 tribes of Israel with designated parcels of the land of Israel as inheritance. These are Manasseh, whom we discussed yesterday, and Eph•ra•im, (Ephraim).
“And the name of the second called he Ephraim; ‘For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”’
In this verse, too, the English translation is correct and the name Eph•ra•im indeed comes from the verb ‘hif•ra,’ which means ‘to make someone fruitful.’
It’s noteworthy to mention that Ephraim becomes a favourite in the eyes of his grandfather, Jacob; Moses; and God Himself. Jacob blesses him more generously and does so before giving his blessing to his older brother, Manasseh, as one would expect (read more about the quiet struggle between Jacob and Joseph regarding his surprising choice in Gen. 48:17-19.)
“And he blessed them that day, saying, ‘In you shall Israel bless, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh’; and he set Ephraim before Manasseh”
The greatest of all are God’s famous words about this tribe:
“‘Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a darling child? For whenever I speak of him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore my inward parts are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him,’ says the Lord”
According to most Bible scholars, in these words God is relating to the entire house of Israel.