Friday, December 1, 2023

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.


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

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


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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