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Looking at the words Ephrathite and Ephraimite (אפרתי) they have the exact same spelling. From the website doitinhebrew.com the dictionary even said: ‘Ephraimite; inhabitant of Ephrat(ah).’

This reminded me of Beit Lechem the homeground or ancestral home of both Elimelech and Naomi, who are called Ephratites in the book of Ruth (1:2). Which could be derived from the fact that Boaz is identified as a member of Elimelech his family (1:2), a near kinsmen redeemer for Naomi (2:2, 3:12), and a direct descandant of Yehudah (4:18-20). Boaz also identifies Elimelech as ‘a brother’ when he speaks with the nearest kinsmen redeemer (4:3).

So here’s the thing: we know that because of a famine they have to leave Beit Lechem and that when Elimelech and the two sons of Naomi have passed away that she returns with her daughter-in-law Ruth. From the story it becomes clear that Naomi, an Ephraimite, owned ancestral land in Beit Lechem which she decided to sell in an attempt to secure a life partner for Ruth in the hope of raising up a son in the name of Ruth’s widow and Naomi’s deceased son, Mahlon. Because Naomi’s son Mahlon was the rightful heir to her ancestral land, Mahlon’s widow, Ruth, came with the land and the man who purchased the land would be required to fulfill the levirate marriage rites and raise up a son to Mahlon, which would become the heir of the land.

Well, Boaz was that man, and he and Ruth got married, Ruth gave birth to Obed, the father of Yishai, who became the father of David HaMelech. Obed is said to be the grandson of Naomi (for clear reasons), and Ruth would be the great-grand-mother of David.

So David could be seen as a Ephratite of Beit Lechem Yehudah.

If Elimelech and Naomi hadn’t had an ancestral right to the land in Beit Lechem, Boaz wouldn’t had the responsibility to fulfill the levirate marriage role with Ruth because the land was the rightful inheritance of Mahlon.

The fact that Ephrat(ah) isn’t listed as one of the cities of Yehudah, coupled with the fact Elimelech and Naomi are called Ephratites, which could mean the same as Ephraimites, and their ancestral right to land in Beit-Lechem, it may be concluded that this city in the territory of Yehudah was quite different from all other cities in this area. Why? Because it could be that many people in this city had ancestral ties to two tribes, Ephraim and Yehudah.

Because Boaz is a member of Elimelech’s family, could it be he’s also a Ephraimite living in Yehudah?! Of course Boaz is also from the lineage of Yehudah as stated in the end of the book of Ruth.

So here’s my question: could it be that David is descended from both Ephraim as well as Yehudah?

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    It's possible that at some point one of the women in David's lineage was from Ephraim. Don't forget, though, that Kalev who was from Yehudah, married a woman named Efrat, which Chazal say was Miriam (who was from Levi). So Efrat may not necessarily come from Ephraim. – Harel13 Jan 27 at 14:31
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    Do you have a source that אפרתי means someone from Ephraim? – simyou Jan 27 at 18:22
  • @simyou see ruth Ruth Rabbah 2 (P.s. possibly Judges 12:5, 1 Samuel 1:1-2 and 1 Kings 11:26 also, although Elkanah could have been - when compared to Judges 17:7 - called such because he was located in that tribe; i.e. a inhabitant from Efratah. – Y.Talmid Jan 28 at 11:01
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In the question you suggest that Ephrat is so named because of an association with Ephraim:

The fact that Ephrat(ah) isn’t listed aso e of the cities of Yehudah, coupled with the fact Elimelech and Naomi are called Ephratites, which could mean the same as Ephraimites, and their ancestral right to land in Beit-Lechem, it may be concluded that this city in the territory of Yehudah was quite different from all other cities in this area. Why? Because it could be that many people in this city had ancestral ties to two tribes, Ephraim and Yehudah.

However, we find the name Ephrat used for this city well before the settlement of the Land, in Genesis 35:16 :

וַיִּסְעוּ֙ מִבֵּ֣ית אֵ֔ל וַֽיְהִי־ע֥וֹד כִּבְרַת־הָאָ֖רֶץ לָב֣וֹא אֶפְרָ֑תָה וַתֵּ֥לֶד רָחֵ֖ל וַתְּקַ֥שׁ בְּלִדְתָּֽהּ׃

They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.

And in Genesis 48:7 Ephrat is identified with Bethlehem:

וַאֲנִ֣י ׀ בְּבֹאִ֣י מִפַּדָּ֗ן מֵ֩תָה֩ עָלַ֨י רָחֵ֜ל בְּאֶ֤רֶץ כְּנַ֙עַן֙ בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ בְּע֥וֹד כִּבְרַת־אֶ֖רֶץ לָבֹ֣א אֶפְרָ֑תָה וָאֶקְבְּרֶ֤הָ שָּׁם֙ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ אֶפְרָ֔ת הִ֖וא בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם׃

I [do this because], when I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, while I was journeying in the land of Canaan, when still some distance short of Ephrath; and I buried her there on the road to Ephrath”—now Bethlehem.

So it seems that Ephrat is the earlier name, and therefore it should not be associated with any local lineage to Ephraim.

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  • Before the settlement of the land we also have וירדף עד דן, so this is not a good proof – Double AA Jan 28 at 19:53
  • True, and I would not say my answer is a proof. However, here we have Ephrat in Yaakov's words, and not just as part of the narration. Also, אֶפְרָ֔ת הִ֖וא בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם sounds like Ephrat is the earlier name, and Bethlehem is the newer name, and not that Ephrat is an anachronism. – simyou Jan 28 at 19:59
  • @DoubleAA R' Yaakov Kaminetsky says if the place had a name at the time of the story, it uses that name. If it didn't, it uses the name as of when it was written down. E.g. "the Jews settled in New Amsterdam"; vs. "it happened in an empty field which is present-day Teaneck." – Shalom Jun 9 at 9:18
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The Midrash in Rut Rabbah 2:5 says:

"Ephrathites": Rabbi Joshua son of Levi says: "Royals (palatini)", and Rabbi the son of Rabbi Nechemiah says: "Nobles (eugenistai)". Another interpretation: "Ephrathites": Rabbi Pinchas said: "Ephraim was crowned with the whole crown from Jacob our father at the time he was departing (petirato) from the world. He said to him: "Ephraim, head of the tribe, head of the yeshivah, the ascended and the praised of my sons will be called by your name: "son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite (1 Samuel 1:1)". "Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite (1 Kings 11:26)". "David was the son of a certain Ephrathite (1 Samuel 17:12)". "Mahlon and Chilion—Ephrathites".

We can see that the word Ephrati can be understood in two ways:

  1. A nobleman or a member of royalty.

  2. A tribal leader or Rosh Yeshiva.

Per the first understanding, the connection between Ephraim and the word Ephrati is coincidental (though fits in well with different psukim and Midrashim about the pride of Ephraim, for example this and this). Arguably, according to this interpretation, Ephrati probably came before the name Ephraim (as @simyou pointed out, Ephratah was part of Beit Lechem's name even before the birth of Ephraim). In fact, in a different Midrash, Ephraim himself is called a "palatini" or an "avginos", two of the meanings of Ephrati.

Per the second understanding, "Ephrati" comes from Ephraim but it is made clear that that does not mean that everyone who is called "Ephrati" is a descendant of Ephraim, rather, it is part of the blessing of Yaakov to his grandson that in his honor, important people will be named after him. One of the examples brought in this part of the Midrash is King David himself.

Therefore, while there is some connection between the two words, that does not mean that every person that was called an Ephrati is a descendant of Ephraim. At best, they are, in some sense, spiritual descendants of Ephraim, honoring his memory by carrying a title similar to his name.

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