Tribes of Israel – Dan and Naphtali

Bilhah and Her Boys

Bilhah is Rachel’s servant; her other claim to fame is that she was unfaithful with Rueben. The other time she is mentioned is in 1 Chronicles 7:13 where the children of Naphtali are identified as her descendents; Dan is mentioned but his descendents are listed. (see List)

I have to think about this a little more but Dan is the first of four “slave children.” Even though the customs mentioned here in Paddan Aram are not stated again in the Bible (first-born daughter marrying first and raising a family by a slave), “slave” children are not treated as equals at other times in Scripture (ex. Jephthah, in Judges). I don’t see these four boys being treated differently by the other brothers but it should be noted that they are on the “Mount of Curses” after they enter the Promise Land and Jacob put her and Zilpah with their children at the head of the column when he was about to meet Esau (first killed/captured).

Dan is Jacob’s fifth child and Bilhah’s first. The name Dan sounds like “vindicated or judged” and was given by Rachel (she also named Naphtali).

Deuteronomy 33: 22 About Dan he said: “Dan is a lion’s cub, springing out of Bashan.”

Genesis 49: 16 “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. 18 “I look for your deliverance, O Lord. (NIV) Several sources consider this a play on words with the meaning of his name.

Dan’s big story is in Judges 17 &18, unfortunately it is not a good one. Even though they were a large tribe they could not take their inheritance and move their allotment to the north. As a tribe they “steal” a priest and idols, kill a peaceful village and take their land. They make most of other highlights of tribal list including an allotment in Ezekiel but they are not listed in 1 Chronicles or Revelations. I have often thought that had to do with the idol worship that continued to the Exile of the Northern Kingdom but other “brothers” messed up just as bad and still made the list. Dan shown here is where he was suppose to be according to Joshua.TwelveTribesofIsraelebible

Naphtali is Jacob’s sixth child and Bilhah’s second; his name means “wrestling.”

Deuteronomy 33: 23 About Naphtali he said: “Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the Lord and is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake.”

Genesis 49:21 “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns. (NIV)

Not much is known of Naphtali as a person and the tribe does show-up at important times but was not a major player. The tribe can be noted for supplying warriors for both Deborah and Gideon. With Zebulun their territory included Nazareth where Jesus grew up.

Map from http://www.biblestudytools.com/resources/maps/twelve-tribes-of-israel-map.html and eBibleTeacher.com.

Tribes of Israel – Benjamin

Benjamin is the thirteenth child of Jacob or the first child of Israel and the second child of Rachel. He is definitely the only son born in the Promise Land.

Deuteronomy 33: 12 About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”

Genesis 49:27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.” (NIV)

The prophecy by Moses in Deuteronomy is started with Jonathan (King Saul’s son) and David in 1 Samuel 18. It continues in 1 Kings 12 when a rather arrogant Rehoboam is used to split the Kingdom; ten tribes follow Jeroboam and only Judah and Benjamin stay true to the royal line of David. (Jerusalem was in the land allotted to Benjamin.)

The prediction of Jacob in Genesis 49 paints an interesting picture of his youngest son. A wolf is relentless and calculating when it pursues what it wants and violent in its attacks but it also sets an example of a supportive family. I think it is safe to assume that when Joseph was “no more” that Benjamin became his favored son. This is reflected by his unwillingness to let him go to Egypt even though the whole clan could have died of starvation.

Since Rachel died in childbirth who raised Benjamin? Bilhah should have been the likely choice since she was Rachel’s slave but she slept with Reuben and I cannot image Jacob trusting her much. So the other choice would have been faithful Leah.

The story in Judges 19,20,21 about Benjamin defending some of their own even though they had clearly crossed several lines of moral behavior sets the stage for Saul and his kingship. (See Why Hide a Grandson There)

http://www.angelfire.com/mn/wolf1/images/pack.gif

Tribes of Israel – Zebulun and Dinah

Zebulun the 10th child of Jacob and 6th of Leah, Dinah the 11th child of Jacob and the 7th of Leah.

Zebulun

Just like Issachar there is not much written about Zebulun. He and Issachar are usually listed together and their land allotments were next to each other after the Conquest. It does not seem that he made it to the ocean by looking at the map; an article in the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible does provide possible explanations on how the prophecy might have played out. They include merging economics with other tribes and land extensions to the Mediterranean.

Deuteronomy 33: 18 About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
and you, Issachar, in your tents.
19 They will summon peoples to the mountain and there offer sacrifices of righteousness; they will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sand.”

Genesis 49:13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon. (NIV)

The two notable things about his extended family are Eglon, a Judge, (Judges 12:11+12) and that Nazareth, which was Jesus’ hometown, is in Zebulun’s land.

Dinah

Other than the short story of her abduction in Shechem nothing else is written about her. But could you image living with her brothers; they were slightly over protective.

Map from http://www.biblestudytools.com/resources/maps/twelve-tribes-of-israel-map.html and eBibleTeacher.com.

Tribes of Israel – Issachar

Issachar is the fifth son of Leah and the ninth child of Jacob.

Deuteronomy 33: 18 About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
and you, Issachar, in your tents.
Genesis 49:14 “Issachar is a rawboned (strong) donkey lying down among the sheep pens. 15 When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor. (NIV)

Like most of the other sons Issachar does not have a lot documented about his life. We know that he was involved in looting Shechem, selling Joseph and the trips to Egypt but that is about it for the story of his life. His family is also pretty quiet but he does have a few standouts in his linage and they are mentioned when all the tribes come together or are being assigned things to do by David or Solomon. They are included in some of the revivals in the latter part of Chronicles.

Tola, a judge mentioned in Judges 10:1+2 is from Issachar and Deborah includes them in her song in Judges 5:15.

Baasha, a king of the Northern Tribes (Israel) is found in 1 Kings 15:27 – 16:7; the NIV mentions that the name may mean “bad” and he lived down to the meaning as he killed the previous king and his entire family. (That seemed to be standard practice for the day.)

Issachar with Zebulun and Judah formed the leading edge of the Camp during the Exodus; in fact those three appear together many times. I feel it is because they are the three “blessed” sons of Leah. Reuben, Simeon and Levi all incurred Jacob’s wrath during his lifetime. I also feel that they were the “true” children of a wife instead of a concubine. (Judah was not a poster child for good as he starts the selling of Joseph and had the trouble with his daughter-in-law.)

He and Zebulun are often mentioned together and were allotted land next to each other after the conquest. But like most of the Northern Tribes they go into Exile under the Assyrians and you loose track of them after that.

Another Issachar connection has to do with Gideon.  He was in Ophrah that was actually in the land of Issachar.  Several sources I have read refer to Manasseh mingling with both Issachar and Zebulun; a map in my Holman Bible puts much of his story in those lands.

Map from http://www.biblestudytools.com/resources/maps/twelve-tribes-of-israel-map.html and eBibleTeacher.com.

Tribes of Israel – Levi

Levi is the third son of Jacob and Leah. His name sounds like the Hebrew word for attached because Leah hoped that Jacob would be attached (love) to her.

Genesis 49:“Simeon and Levi are brothers— their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel.

This prophesy was fulfilled because the Levities had the “Lord as their inheritance” thus they received only cities within other tribes and Simeon was “scattered” into Judah. After the incident at Shechem they really did not do anything else outstanding and just slip into history.

Deuteronomy 33:8 About Levi he said: “Your Thummim and Urim belong to the man you favored. You tested him at Massah; you contended with him at the waters of Meribah.
He said of his father and mother, ‘I have no regard for them.’ He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word
and guarded your covenant.
10 He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11 Bless all his skills, O Lord, and be pleased with the work of his hands. Smite the loins of those who rise up against him; strike his foes till they rise no more.”

The Thummim and Urim was how the Israelites could receive instruction (Ezra 2:63) from the Lord. I have read that the breastplate (Exodus 28:30) the High Priest wore had stones with the names of the tribes inscribed on them and they may have been removable; then they would “roll” them and pick who the Lord’s choice was from the casting of these lots. An example of this may be in Judges 1:1+2 when Judah was picked to lead Israel against the Canaanites. (If you Goggle this subject you will find a lot of non-Christian/Biblical info)

Massah and Meribah was the name given to the campsite of Rephidim (Exodus 17) or the “spring and rock” where the Israelites argued and tested the Lord about drinking water. Rephidim is also where the Amalekites come into the Exodus story as enemies.

Exodus 32 is an interesting chapter featuring the Levities. Moses is up a mountain seeking God and receiving the Commandments, Aaron is making a golden calf and the family collectively is killing people who are out of control because of the calf. And once again God shows His mercy by making Aaron the priest even after he “fibs” about the golden calf in vs.24.  It is interesting to note that a specific genetic marker has been found that allows them to specifically trace Aaron’s family line. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y-chromosomal_Aaron

Other notable descendents of Levi and Aaron are David’s Praise Team: Heman, Asaph and Ethan (1 Chronicles 15: 19), Benaiah the captain of David’s guard was a priest-1 Chronicles 27:5, and Jesus.  Ok, here is my reasoning for Jesus – Mary was cousin to Elizabeth who was indentified as a descendent of Aaron in Luke 1:5.

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