The first mention of Ephrath occurs in Genesis, in reference to where Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin and is buried on the road from Bethel. A very old tradition is that Ephrath refers to Bethlehem, and thus that she died on the way there, reflected by the ancient Tomb of Rachel at the city's entrance.
Some modern scholars have placed this location closer to Bethel, in the vicinity of Ramallah, based on verses in Samuel I and Jeremiah. A prime candidate according to this view is a site known in Arabic as "kubur beni israil" ("burial of the Children of Israel"), and is adjacent to the "Farah" wadi, whose name recalls "Ephrath".
The birth of Jesus in nearby Bethlehem, in the territory of or "towards Ephrata" (Bethlehem Ephrata) has always been accounted by Christians a fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2 (5:1 in some texts):
- "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." (King James Version).
Locations named after Ephrath
Some modern places named after Ephrath include:
- The Israeli town of Efrat, near Bethlehem
- The town of Ephrata, Pennsylvania
- The town of Ephratah, New York
- The town of Ephrata, Washington
- The locality and creek of Eprapah, Victoria Point, near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. A Scout environmental education training centre.
- "Ephratah" in Holman Bible Dictionary (Holman: Tennessee, 2003), 500-501
- "Ephratah (Ephrath) (WebBible Encyclopedia)". ChristianAnswers.Net. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- 1Samuel 10:2
- Jeremiah 31:14
- 1Chronicles 4:4
- Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 120.