Discovering Ephraim In The Bible And His Remarkable Legacy

Photo of author

Published by Kenneth Garcia


Co-Founder of Biblekeeper, Author & Theologian

Last Updated:

Editorial Policy and Guidelines

Our content is expertly crafted and reviewed by theologians and scholars, ensuring accuracy and relevance by referencing reliable sources, primarily the Bible. Before publication and significant updates, we rigorously confirm the factual integrity, delivering well-informed articles grounded in biblical teachings

God assured Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars that shine in the night sky. He would remain their one true God and forever bestow upon them a particular piece of land (Genesis 12:1–3).

One of Abraham’s descendants was named Ephraim. The name clearly appears in the Holy Scriptures 180 times, referring to a Biblical figure, an Israelite tribe, a mountain region, a territory, and a gate. In the Old Testament, Ephraim and Manasseh are Joseph’s two known sons.

As it turned out, Jacob blessed the sons “by faith,” as Hebrews 11:21 reads. He blesses the eldest son (Manasseh) with greatness and blesses the younger one (Ephraim) even more by declaring that he would be even greater, not just as an individual but also “become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:16–19).

Who Is Ephraim In The Bible?

The multiple facets of God’s assurances to Abraham add up to a whole image of grace and salvation for humanity. Following the covenant made with Noah[1], God vows to sustain the created order in this promise. God kept a place where He could carry out His redeeming plans.

The promise made to Abraham is a promise of grace, as it brings forward the redemptive purpose of God. It accomplishes this by forging a distinct nation from Abraham and his children, the Jewish people, using Isaac and all 12 tribes of Israel. One of the aforementioned tribes eventually led to the awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Ephraim is the second biological son of Joseph. He is also the adopted son of Jacob. Joseph called the second Ephraim “for,” and he added, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52). Furthermore, Manasseh and Ephraim were both born in Egypt by Asenath, a child of Potiphera, who is a priest of an old Egyptian town (Genesis 46:20).

The first time he is mentioned takes place when he and his brother Manasseh are brought before Jacob to be blessed (see Genesis 27:1; Genesis 48). Ephraim was Manasseh’s younger brother.

In Genesis 48:5, Jacob gave Ephraim the blessing to become his adopted son, claiming to Joseph, “Your two sons, born to you in Egypt before I came to you here, will be seen as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just like Reuben and Simeon.”

depiction of ephraim in the bible in olden times

What Did Ephraim Do In The Bible?

It all starts with the father of the children of Israel, Jacob. In Genesis 48:14, Jacob consciously bestows the bigger blessing on his younger son, Ephraim, while giving a smaller blessing to his elder son, Manasseh.

Jacob’s prediction in Genesis 48:19 indicates two significant world figures: Manasseh and Ephraim. The nation is without question the strongest single nation when it comes to both riches and influence that the entire world has ever known.

Ephraim’s Name As A Sign Of His Special Role

In His own word, God gives signs about the nature of these nations. One of these most reliable indicators regarding people and nations is found in the origins and meanings of their names.

The book of Genesis includes multiple mentions citing the births of the nation’s forefathers, as well as their parents’ explanations of their names. The births of Joseph’s sons are described in Genesis 41:50–52, together with their father’s reasons for their given names.

He named the firstborn Manasseh because “God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house,” and the second one Ephraim because “God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Therefore, Manasseh implies “making forgetful,” while Ephraim denotes “fruitful.” Joseph, however, implies “He [the LORD] will add,” signifying God’s blessing (refer to Genesis 30:22–24).

Through the blessing of his two sons, completed by Jacob, Joseph inherited the firstborn’s share of Israel’s inheritance. It was primarily through Joseph that God’s promises of riches and power to Abraham were carried out. God undoubtedly strengthened Joseph’s character by granting benefits to his offspring.

The Fruitful Tribe Of Ephraim In The Bible

Ephraim’s people have been fruitful, productive, and successful, which far outweighed their total population and the scope of their region. They launched ships and troops from the small island to take over and lead distant nations and peoples for years.

They harnessed those areas’ riches and fortunes to create a massive productive empire that would benefit the world. The two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, are individuals who have fulfilled their prophetic name.

Ephraim’s legacy lives on through the twelve tribes of Israel. They established themselves in middle Canaan, close to the northwest of the well-known Dead Sea. Manasseh bounded the clan on the north, while Benjamin and Dan bounded it on the south (Joshua 16; 19:50).

Ephraim, the powerhouse of the northern tribes, reigned from Samaria. You’ll even find references to Israel as “Ephraim” in the Scriptures.

There are notable members of Ephraim’s tribe who have done fruitful things. Some of them are Joshua, Samuel, and Jeroboam I, the very first king of Israel’s Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12:25). Following the Babylonian captivity mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:3, a few of Ephraim’s tribe settled and returned to Jerusalem.

The Story Of Ephraim In The Bible

How Joseph Reconnected With His Siblings And Father

The story of Ephraim cannot be complete without telling the background and history of his father, Joseph. Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream during his service, predicting seven prosperous years followed by seven years of famine.

The Pharaoh tasked Joseph with the responsibility of overseeing food stores during the prosperous years and giving out food and supplies during the poor years.

Throughout those hard times, his siblings, who had long assumed he was dead, traveled to Egypt to plead with the Pharaoh for food. The family was surprised to discover Joseph in command, and everyone, even their father Jacob, decided to live with Joseph in the region of Goshen.

When Jacob realized his days were few, he decided to leave an inheritance for the following generation. This has been a practice that began with Abraham.

The Passing Of The Blessing Of God

According to Matt Champlin’s “A Biblical Theology of Blessing in Genesis,” blessing is when God or a blessed individual grants privilege, right, responsibility, or favor to a part of creation. To be blessed means being one of God’s people with all the benefits; essentially, it’s God’s relational presence in one’s life.

This is exactly what the father wished to give his son: a special prayer that God’s goodness would continue to be with them. Furthermore, Champlin claimed that with the passing of Jacob and Joseph’s deaths, they deliver the final lesson of Genesis, as both aged patriarchs await with unwavering spiritual sights the complete acceptance of the blessings.

He continues, “Most of all, they anticipated the guiding presence of God continuing to be with his people, blessing them as he had promised.”

The Birthright Covenants: Abraham To Ephraim

When Jacob summoned Joseph to his deathbed, he requested that Ephraim and Manasseh accompany him. To everyone’s surprise, Jacob “adopts through blessing” his grandchildren and declares them as belonging to him, just as Reuben and Simeon belong to him (Genesis 48:5).

Because Jacob’s sight was deteriorating, Joseph brought his boys close to him, and Joseph positioned Manasseh, the oldest, near Jacob’s right hand (the typical side of blessing given to the oldest child), then Ephraim near Jacob’s left hand. However, Jacob placed the wrong hands on the wrong heads, and Joseph attempted to correct him.

However, Jacob refused, saying, “I know, my son, I know.” He also stated to Joseph that Manasseh would also be a people of Israel, and he would likewise rise to greatness. He further adds that his second son will be greater than the older one, and his blessed descendants will grow into many nations (Genesis 48:19).

What Is Special About Ephraim In The Bible?

Ephraim most probably came into the world with a high social status. He and the rest of his family possessed wealth and status because he was the son of Pharaoh’s loyal man. According to Genesis 43, Joseph had a palace, servants, and fine drinkware.

Pharaoh gave Joseph the signet jewelry ring, the most crucial item, to demonstrate his influence and authority. One can only imagine the advantages he and his sibling Manasseh had.

When his grandfather Jacob chose the younger Ephraim above the older Manasseh, both of them became significant official members of the Hebrew nation. They were no longer the privileged progeny of an Egyptian ruler.

They became someone who attributed their existence to the one God, who established a promise with their forefather Abraham. They also served as tribe leaders who had been chosen to serve by God’s commands.

As we concentrated on Ephraim, we saw that these individuals had to give forgiveness and reconnect with one another. Jacob blessed them, and they had to trust in God as their lives were about to change drastically.

As a boy, Ephraim had no idea his family would grow so quickly when 11 uncles and their grandfathers relocated to Egypt.

He had no idea his children would end up in slavery, then nomadic travel along with nine other Northern tribes, where he would become recognized as the blessed forefather of a nation’s birth, embracing a fresh, unfamiliar form of worship. But once he met his father’s one true God, anything was possible.

three israeli flags on toothpicks


Following the Noahic covenant, where God vows to maintain the created order, God makes similar promises to Abraham.

However, God let a devout Joseph go through enormous tribulations and hardships before redeeming his suffering by bestowing astounding blessings on him, such as his two sons. As part of this redemption, Ephraim (Joseph’s younger son) has fulfilled his prophetic name, which signifies “double fruitfulness,” through his leadership.

Jacob continued the promise of grace by blessing Ephraim as his adopted son. As Ephraim became a descendant of Abraham, he and his brother Manasseh started to lead the whole world. Now, his legacy lives on through his story and his children.

Leave a Comment