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Sometimes the tribes of Israel are listed genealogically (Gen. 35:23; I Chron. 2:1-2); sometimes in cultic formation (Num. chapters 2-3; Deut. 27:12); and sometimes geographically (Num. 34:14-28; I Chron. 6:54; Ezek. 48:1). Usually twelve tribes are mentioned, but the identification of the tribes varies.
The twelve tribes of Israel came from the twelve sons of Jacob, whom is later called “Israel” (Gen.32:28). twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun His, Joseph, and Benjamin (Gen.35:23-26; Ex.1:1-4; 1 Chron.2:1-2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, only 11 of the 12 tribes were granted a territory. The descendants of Levi did not receive a territory for themselves (Josh.13:14). They were the priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. They received tithes from the other tribes to sustain them.
Joseph’s tribe was divided in two . . . Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, basically giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in saving the family from famine (Gen.47:11-12). This means the tribes who received territory in the Promised Land were Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. In one place in Scripture, the tribe of Ephraim is referred to as the tribe of Joseph (Num.1:32-33).
After King Solomon died, the nation of Israel split into two kingdoms (1 K.12), Judah, to the south, included Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The other tribes combined to make the kingdom of Israel in the north. Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, and most of the Israelites were either killed or deported; the Israelites who remained most likely combined with the kingdom of Judah.
Jesus was from Judah, Paul was from Benjamin, and John the Baptist was a Levite, but, since the diaspora in A.D. 70, identifying the tribe of a modern Jew is more difficult. During the Tribulation, when most of the world has abandoned God and is following Antichrist, 144,000 Jews shall be sealed by God. This number includes 12,000 from each tribe. If people do not know their tribe . . . God knows! The tribes are listed again in Rev.7:5-8, but they are not the same tribes that were given land in Joshua. Manasseh is there, and Ephraim (under Joseph’s name). But instead of Dan, Levi is included. No explanation is given as to why. Why should we question God?
Israel, 12 Spies
Israel, Beginning of
Israel, Bones Shall Live
Israel, a Byword Among the Nations
Israel, Defeated in battle
Israel, Did She Kill JESUS?
Israel, Dispersion of
Israel, Divine Curse
Israel, God's Chosen People
Israel, God Faithful to
Israel, God Hides His Face From
Israel, Hating Israel is a Sin
Israel, Their Promised Land
Israel, Their Sabbath or Ours?
Israel, Their Ten failures