OPHRAH (ŏf'ra, Heb. ‘ophrâh, hind)
A town in Benjamin (Josh.18.23). Now called Et-Taiyibah. It lies on a conical hill about three miles (five km.) NE of Bethel and probably is the “Ephraim” (John.11.54) to which our Lord retired when under persecution.A town in the tribe of Manasseh (Judg.6.24) pertaining to the Abiezrites, a family of that tribe. Here the angel of God appeared, sitting under an oak tree, and talked with Gideon, commissioning him to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Gideon placed in Ophrah the ephod that the children of Israel worshiped (Judg.8.27).A son of Meonothai, an early member of the tribe of Judah (1Chr.4.14).
OPHRAH ŏf’ rə
, B; ̓Αφρα
, A; ̓Ιεφραθα
). 1. A member of the tribe of Judah, son of Meonothai (1 Chron 4:14
2. A city of Benjamin listed with other cities generally NE of Jerusalem (Josh 18:23). It was in the area of Michmash, for from there one of three raiding parties of Philistines, prior to battle with Saul, headed toward it (1 Sam 13:17, 18). Since the other two parties went W and E respectively, and Saul was S at Gibeah, it is likely that Ophrah lay to the N. Ophrah is commonly identified with Ephon, associated in 2 Chronicles 13:19 with Bethel; and also with Ephraim, associated in 2 Samuel 13:23 (cf. John 11:54) with Baal-hazor (identified with a high mountain, Jebel el-’Asur, nine m. NNE of Bethel). Jerome identifies Ophrah with Ephraim and places it five Rom. m. E of Bethel. These data point to modern et-Taiyibeh, a conical hill some five m. NE of Beitin (Bethel) and six m. NNE of Mukhmas (Michmash), as the site. The name Taiyibeh is a regular Arab. replacement for the name Ophrah or Ephron. Negatively, however, this site seems too far N to have been included in Benjaminite territory, which leaves the matter still uncertain.
The location is uncertain. Another et-Taiyibeh, located eight m. NW of Bethshan, commends itself, for it is in the vicinity of the well of Harod and hill of Moreh (7:1) between which Gideon defeated the enemy. However, it is located in Issachar rather than Manasseh. Other suggested sites are Fer’ata, W of Gerizim; Tell el-Far’ah, seven m. NW of Shechem; and Silet ed-Dahr, thirteen m. N of Shechem, but for none is evidence convincing.
E. G. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 154; J. Simons, GTT (1959), 30, 174, 334.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(`ophrah; Codex Vaticanus Aphra; Codex Alexandrinus Iephratha, etc.):
(1) A town in the territory allotted to Benjamin named between Parah and Chephar-ammoni (Jos 18:23). It is mentioned again in 1Sa 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" (2Ch 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 (Jud 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 (Jud 6:33 f), 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 (Jud 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 (Jud 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 (1Ch 4:14).