Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah
Either of the ark which David and others had heard of, that it formerly was at Shiloh, ( Joshua 18:1 ) ; here called Ephratah, as some think; so the Ephraimites are called Ephrathites, ( Judges 12:5 ) ; and Elkanah of Ramathaimzophim, of Mount Ephraim, is said to be an Ephrathite, ( 1 Samuel 1:1 ) ; but this tribe the Lord chose not, but the tribe of Judah, for his habitation; and rejected the tabernacle of Shiloh, and removed it from thence, ( Psalms 78:60 Psalms 78:67 Psalms 78:68 ) ;
we found it in the fields of the wood;
at Kirjathjearim, which signifies the city of woods; being built among woods, and surrounded with them: here the ark was twenty years, and here David found it; and from hence he brought it to the house of Obededom, and from thence to Zion, ( 1 Samuel 7:1 1 Samuel 7:2 ) ( 1 Chronicles 13:5 1 Chronicles 13:6 1 Chronicles 13:13 1 Chronicles 13:14 ) ( 16:1 ) . Or else the place where the temple was to be built; which was not known till the times of David, who was of Ephratah or Bethlehem: here he was born and brought up; and here he was, as Arama supposes, when it was revealed to him where the temple should be built. According to R. Moses, the sense is, We have heard of it by the hand of David, who was of Ephratah: but Aben Ezra thinks the meaning is, that in former times men used to say, We have heard from the mouths of the prophets that the chosen place was near to Bethlehem Ephratah; only the precise place was not known, whether to the east or west, or north or south, of Bethlehem. Some think that not any particular city is intended, but a country, even all the neighbourhood of Bethlehem Ephratah; and took in Jerusalem, where the temple was built, it being but a few miles from the place; so Adrichomius F21 says, the country round about Ephratah had its name from thence; see ( 1 Kings 11:26 ) . Now the place found for the building of the temple was "the fields of the wood", or the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite, and was on Mount Moriah; David found by the order he had to build an altar here, and by the acceptance of his sacrifices, that this was the place for the house of God, ( 1 Chronicles 22:1 ) ; and here Solomon built the temple, ( 2 Chronicles 3:1 ) ; and which was formerly a woody place, as mountains generally are; and this seems to have been when Abraham offered his son on it, who then spied a ram caught in the thickets, ( Genesis 22:2 Genesis 22:13 ) . The Targum is,
``we found it in the field of the forest of Lebanon, the place where the ancient fathers prayed;''the temple being built of the wood of Lebanon. But all this is to be understood of the Lord, the mighty God of Jacob, who was heard of at Ephratah; the Shechinah, of divine Majesty; so Kimchi, Arama, and Ben Melech. And indeed the Messiah is meant, the antitype of the ark and temple; of whom the saints or believers in him, a chorus of which is here introduced, had heard that he should be born at Ephratah, which is Bethlehem; see ( Genesis 35:19 ) ( Ruth 4:11 ) ( 1 Samuel 17:12 ) . And if this psalm was written by the captives in Babylon, they might have heard of this from the prophecy of Micah, ( Psalms 5:2 ) ( Matthew 2:4 Matthew 2:5 Matthew 2:6 Matthew 2:8 Matthew 2:11 ) ; the shepherds heard from the mouths of the angels that Christ was born there; and we Christians have heard the same, and know and believe it, ( Luke 2:4-18 ) . And he has been "found in the fields of the wood"; in a low, mean, abject state, as this phrase signifies; ( Ezekiel 16:5 ) . The shepherds found him rejected from being in the inn, there being no room for him, and lying in a manger, ( Luke 2:7 Luke 2:16 ) ; the angels found him in the wilderness, among the wild beasts of the field, ( Mark 1:13 ) ; nor had he the convenience even of foxes, and birds of the air; had no habitation or place where to lay his head, ( Matthew 8:20 ) ; And he is to be found in the field of the Scriptures, where this rich treasure and pearl of great price lies hid, ( Matthew 13:44 ) ; and being preached among the Gentiles, after his incarnation, sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension, who are compared to wildernesses, and desert places, was found by many of them, ( Isaiah 35:1 ) ( 65:1 ) ; and which serves to set off with a foil his glory; being like the apple tree among the trees of the wood, ( Song of Solomon 2:3 ) .
F21 Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 41.