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Ophrah

OPHRAH

of'-ra (`ophrah; Codex Vaticanus Aphra; Codex Alexandrinus Iephratha, etc.):

(1) A town in the territory allotted to Benjamin named between Parah and Chephar-ammoni (Joshua 18:23). It is mentioned again in 1 Samuel 13:17. The Philistines who were encamped at Michmash sent out marauding bands, one of which went westward, another eastward, down "the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness"; the third "turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual." This must have been northward, as Saul commanded the passage to the South. Eusebius, Onomasticon places it 5 Roman miles East of Bethel. A site which comes near to fulfilling these conditions is eT-Taiyebeh, which stands on a conical hill some 5 miles Northeast of Beitin. This is possibly identical with "Ephron" (2 Chronicles 13:19), and "Ephraim" (Jn. 11:54).

(2) A city in the tribal lot of Manasseh West of Jordan. It is mentioned only in connection with Gideon, whose native place it was, and with his son Abimelech (Judges 6:11, etc.). It was, indeed, family property, belonging to Joash the Abiezrite, the father of Gideon. It was apparently not far from the plain of Esdraelon (Judges 6:33), so that Gideon and his kinsmen smarted under the near presence of the oppressing Midianites. Manasseh, of course, as bordering on the southern edge of the plain, was in close touch with the invaders. At Ophrah, Gideon reared his altar to Yahweh, and made thorough cleansing of the instruments of idolatry. After his great victory, he set up here the golden ephod made from the spoils of the enemy, which proved a snare to himself and to his house (Judges 8:27). Here he was finally laid to rest. It was at Ophrah that Abimelech, aspiring to the kingdom, put to death upon one stone three score and ten of his brethren, as possible rivals, Jotham alone escaping alive (Judges 9:5). Apparently the mother of Abimelech belonged to Shechem; this established a relationship with that town, his connection with which does not therefore mean that Ophrah was near it.

No quite satisfactory identification has yet been suggested. Conder (PEFS, 1876, 1971) quotes the Samaritan Chronicle as identifying Ferata, which is 6 miles West of Nablus, with an ancient Ophra, "and the one that suggests itself as most probably identical is Ophrah of the Abiezerite." But this seems too far to the South.

(3) A man of the tribe of Judah, son of Meonothai (1 Chronicles 4:14).

W. Ewing


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'OPHRAH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.