Ephraim was the second son of Joseph the patriarch, by Asenath the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On. Born during the seven years of plenty in Egypt, Ephraim means fruitful and Joseph named him so because God had caused him to be fruitful in the land of his affliction. The region of Ephraim is about 14 miles north of Jerusalem and 4 miles to the east of Bethel. Ephraim is often used in the prophets for the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of the leading place that the tribe of Ephraim exercised in it. So Jesus and his disciples withdrew to Ephraim, meaning to the north. Ephraim is often used for the kingdom of Israel especially in the prophetic, including the last days.

In the Old Testament, the laying on of hands often conferred spiritual blessings. Israel stretched out his hands on the two sons of Joseph as a blessing, "guiding his hands wittingly." A definite impartation was received in this action, being the right hand placed on the head of Ephraim and setting him before Manasseh who was given the left even though Ephraim was the younger, though he was still blessed. Speaking words of wisdom, Jacob's hands were prophetically guided by the Holy Ghost in the blessing.

Of the twelve sons of Israel, Levi did not receive a portion of the land but did have cities to dwell in; they were the priests and received tithes. The two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, who was the eldest, received a portion apiece and so were numbered with the twelve tribes. The inheritance of Ephraim included the border of Ataroth-addar on the east unto Beth-horon, the upper, toward the sea to Michmethah on the north and westward to Taanath-shiloh and passed by it on the east to Janohah roughly to Jericho and to the Jordan. The Lord did make the tribe of Ephraim fruitful for by the time of Moses, it was spoken of the thousands of Manasseh and the ten thousands of Ephraim. Both of them were considered a great people with great power by Joshua but were criticized for being afraid and not driving out the Canaanites completely, like sin in the church, left to fester and infect the whole body. Samaria, the capital of the ten tribes, being in Ephraim, represents the disobedience of not driving out the inhabitants completely and the resulting mixture of the children of God and the children of men. Joshua was buried in Mount Ephraim.

We may learn some about the prophetic Ephraim from the Psalms of David. The Lord said through David that Ephraim was the strength of Mine head. Judah and Israel were undivided until after the days of David but the prophecies in Psalms shows the plan of God beforehand. The lesson of Ephraim is for us today. The Lord asks us to give ear to His words, the children of Ephraim, while being armed and carrying bows, they turned back in the day of battle. They did not keep the covenant and did not walk in His law. Although they witnessed so many marvelous things in Egypt, they had forgotten His wonders and questioned and doubted God in the wilderness, tempting Him and provoking Him by turning back to their own unfaithfulness. Because they did not believe God or trust in His salvation, the Lord became angry and slew the chosen men of Israel and yet they still kept on sinning, their heart just wasn't right. Even so, God took compassion on them and did not destroy them but because they turned aside, the Lord refused the house of Joseph and the tribe of Ephraim and chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which He loved with David also and fed and guided them according to the integrity of His heart and the skillfulness of His hands.

The Kingdom of David and Solomon was the Kingdom of Israel, undivided. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon was so oppressive that the ten tribes of the upper kingdom rebelled against the house of David, being Judah and Benjamin. For some reason, the Lord had done this and did not want them re-united, even when Rehoboam tried. The Levites who were in the north came unto Judah. Now we have Judah and Israel, two kingdoms of which Ephraim is dominant and Samaria as capital among the ten tribes in the north and Judah, Benjamin and Levites in the south who are now known as Jews. As soon as Rehoboam starts dealing wisely with Judah, God strengthens him for a few years, then he forsakes the law of the Lord and Jerusalem is attacked by Egypt and plundered. Once the people and the king humbled themselves, they were delivered but the damage is done. Israel and Ephraim to the north, however, never do seem to humble themselves.

The book of Hosea is devoted to the sins and adultery of Ephraim, the foolish prophets and idolatry that will contribute to her downfall. The Christian church has used these prophecies to illustrate Israel as the church and the call to not forsake Jesus. By the time of Isaiah, we find Ephraim (Israel) in league with the Syrians against Judah. The Lord speaks against it and gives Ephraim only 65 more years as a people. The prophecies of the Lord Jesus are given at this time and even Ephraim shall be witness to it. For Ephraim to not be a people and then to be able to witness Jesus is significant. The Assyrians invaded Israel and Ephraim is taken captive along with the whole of northern Israel and the ten tribes of Israel are now called the ten lost tribes. They are not the destroyed tribes but only lost. They lost their identification with Israel because they were scattered and assimilated among the Gentiles. Judah kept the identity. There is a remnant of Israel and "the remnant shall return." When the 144,000 come in the last days, they will be twelve thousand each of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Jews as you can see comprise only two of the tribes, Judah and Benjamin, plus Levi, the other ten are dispersed among the Gentiles and could be among any of us. "For all this, His anger is not turned away but His hand is stretched out still."

The Lord speaks through Jeremiah saying, "...I am a Father to Israel and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the Lord O ye nations and declare it in the isles afar off and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock." The restoration of Israel began with the birth of Jesus. "Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? For since I spoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still, therefore my bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord." Remember this that the Jews have their own promises but the promises of God are not according to Judah or Israel but to Israel and Judah together. God has given us a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah where the law is not in stone but written in our hearts. When Israel is spoken of as coming back to their own land by Ezekiel, it is with a cleansing, a new heart and new spirit, not divided into two kingdoms but one nation with the sanctuary of the Lord in the midst of them.
[295, 355, 380 BD, Genesis 41:52; 46:20; 48, Joshua 14, 16, 17, Psalm 60:7, 78, II Chronicles 10-11, Isaiah 7-10, Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36-37, ]

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