Sunday, December 6, 2020

אפרתה, what is your real name?

 I figured I would reuse the name I used for a similar post on the city of יהץ/יהצה.

ל"ה"ט"ז

וַיִּסְעוּ מִבֵּית אֵל וַיְהִי־עוֹד כִּבְרַת־הָאָרֶץ לָבוֹא אֶפְרָתָה וַתֵּלֶד רָחֵל וַתְּקַשׁ בְּלִדְתָּהּ

It seems the clear that the meaning here is "to אפרת."

ל"ה:י"ט

וַתָּמָת רָחֵל וַתִּקָּבֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶפְרָתָה הִוא בֵּית לָחֶם׃

This is the one that is hard to explain. The ending ה does not seem necessary. Especially, if you consider the פסוק in ויחי:

אֲנִי בְּבֹאִי מִפַּדָּן מֵתָה עָלַי רָחֵל בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּעוֹד כִּבְרַת־אֶרֶץ לָבֹא אֶפְרָתָה וָאֶקְבְּרֶהָ שָּׁם בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶפְרָת הִוא בֵּית לָחֶם

The only plausible explanation I have heard is that this city has two valid names - אפרת and אפרתה - which seem to be somewhat interchangeable. This reality is actually supported by this contemporary news story regarding a dispute as to what the modern-day name of the city ought to be.


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