EPHRAIM, MOUNTAIN OF (; R. V. "hill country of Ephraim"):
The northern part of the mountain range west of the Jordan, extending from Beer-sheba to the great plain of Esdraelon. Its southern boundary is not expressly indicated in the Old Testament, and probably never constituted a geographically defined line. It is certain, however, that the section on the north comprised a larger area than that inhabited by the tribe of Ephraim; for, according to Judges iii. 27, the Benjamites also were dwellers in the Ephraim hill country. It is further stated in Judges iv. 5 that Deborah lived between Ramah and Beth-el in Mount Ephraim. As for the extension of the hilly country on the north, the allusion in Josh. xvii. 14 et seq. would seem to prove that it was not taken to stretch as far as the plain of Esdraelon, unless the "woodcountry" (R. V. "forest") here mentioned designates, as some authorities assume, the section of the mountain range between Shechem and the plain. At any rate, the "wood country" is contrasted here with the "Har Efrayim." The whole passage, however, is not clear.
In distinction from the range in Judah, which is somewhat regular in its outline, Ephraim consists of valleys and peaks running in all directions. It also includes several plains without outlet, which in the rainy season are transformed into marshes. The great depression in which Shechem is situated divides the mountain into two halves, the southern and the northern. The southern half attains, in its northern part near Shechem, an elevation of 2,604 feet (Mount Gerizim). The northern half commences near Shechem with Mount Ebal, from which issues a ridge terminating in Ras Ibziḳ with an elevation of 2,205 feet. The promontory Carmel, at an elevation of 1,656 feet, forms the terminus on the northwest.
The hill country of Ephraim is far more fertile than that of Judah, and comprises a number of splendid valleys richly studded with orchards. The marshy plains mentioned above contain excellent soil in summer. The peaks, on the other hand, are bald, being sparsely covered with shrubbery.