(Ephʹra·thah) (Ephʹrath is a contraction) [fruitfulness or fertility].
1. The wife of Caleb (Chelubai) son of Hezron of the tribe of Judah. She married Caleb during the Egyptian captivity after the death of his wife Azubah. Ephrathah became the mother of Hur and in time the great-grandmother of Bezalel, the skilled craftsman so famous in the building of the tabernacle.—1 Chron. 2:9, 19, 50; 4:4; Ex. 35:30-35.
2. Evidently the earlier name of Bethlehem or a name applied to the area around it. The names of Bethlehem (house of bread) and Ephrathah (fruitfulness) are similar in meaning, and both are used jointly in several texts. The account of Rachel’s death relates that she was buried “on the way to Ephrath [Ephrathah], that is to say, Bethlehem.” (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7) Members of Elimelech’s family are called “Ephrathites from Bethlehem,” and it was to Bethlehem that his widow Naomi returned out of Moab. (Ruth 1:2, 19) The blessing pronounced on Boaz, following his marriage to Ruth, was that he might prove his “worth in Ephrathah and make a notable name in Bethlehem.” (Ruth 4:11) And finally, in the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s birth, the names are combined as “Bethlehem Ephrathah.” (Mic. 5:2) In view of this it appears that the reference to Ephrathah in Psalm 132:6, which treats of David’s concern for the ark of the covenant, also applies to this hometown of David.—See BETHLEHEM.