Tribes of Israel – Joseph

Joseph is the twelfth child of Jacob and the first son of Rachel; he was the last child born in Paddan Aram. The NIV Bible says the name means “may He add” Rachel believed to have another son. He is the first-born son of the “loved” wife and it showed when he met Esau; Rachel and Joseph were in the back far away from the first attack (Genesis 33:2).Joseph as a slave

Deuteronomy 33: 13 About Joseph he said: “May the Lord bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; 14 with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; 15 with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; 16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. 17 In majesty he is like a firstborn bull; his horns are the horns of a wild ox. With them, he will gore the nations, even those at the ends of the earth. Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim; such are the thousands of Manasseh.” (NIV)

Genesis 49:22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall. 23 With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. 24 But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25 because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb. 26 Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (NIV)

Jacob and Moses in their blessings pretty much gave it all to Joseph and his children.  I really don’t have a lot to say about Joseph because I think every pastor has at least two Joseph sermons. He has all kind of types and shadows from being a type of Jesus to a picture of blessing and faithfulness in hard times.

In Genesis 47 Joseph does his job and gives all of the lands of Egypt to Pharaoh. Oh, we are supposed to do an excellent job for a heathen boss. This is done in the last five years of the famine after his family has joined him.

It is interesting that Jacob continues the “second son” being first in Genesis 48; he was the second son, Joseph is the “second son” and was placed before even Judah as noted in Genesis 48:22 and 1 Chronicles 5:2. Ephraim’s children do live up to all the predictions and play important roles in Israel’s history.  In Amos and Obadiah the children are grouped again under the name of Joseph and in Revelation 7 Manasseh is mentioned by name but Ephraim is not and instead, it is the “tribe of Joseph.”

joseph-dreams of wheatAll told Joseph must have been an amazing person who understood his destiny and believed God was going to get him there even when he sold as a slave and put into prison.

Pictures from: http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/joseph-dreams/ 

Tribes of Israel – Gad and Asher

Zilpah and Her Boys

Zilpah is Leah’s slave and is not mentioned outside of Genesis. Even though she had children by Jacob you have to wonder if life really changed any for her because of the “marriage.” Like Bilhah she did not even name her children. (see comments under Bilhah)

Gad is Jacob’s seventh child and Zilpah’s first, his name means “good fortune.”

Deuteronomy 33: 20 About Gad he said:“Blessed is he who enlarges Gad’s domain! Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at arm or head. 21 He chose the best land for himself; the leader’s portion was kept for him. When the heads of the people assembled, he carried out the Lord’s righteous will, and his judgments concerning Israel.” (NIV)

Genesis 49:19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels. (NIV)

Once again little is told about his life and his family became shepherds with lots of animals and settled on the east bank of the Jordan with Reuben and Manasseh. Those tribes seem to blend together and are called Gilead often in scripture. The Gadites produced warriors that “crossed the Jordan” with the half-tribe of Manasseh all the way to the time of David. With the other trans-Jordan tribes they built a large alter in order to announce their intentions of worshipping Jehovah.

Asher is Jacob’s eighth child and Zilpah’s second, his name means “happy.”

Deuteronomy 33: 24 About Asher he said: “Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. 25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days. (NIV)

Genesis 49:20 “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king. (NIV)

This word from Jacob was fulfilled in their allotment because that area has some of the best olive trees and orchids in the land. The tribe helped Gideon but for the most part they are rather quite throughout Israel’s history. Anna the prophetess, in the book of Luke, that met Mary in the Temple is about it for notable tribe members.

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 – A timeline

This is a new timeline of Jacob and Joseph. I now understand how hard it is to make an accurate line from verb descriptions. To do this I started at the end (Jacob’s life) and moved to Joseph’s birth and and the twenty years of service; transition/travel times also add error into my dates. The numbers surprised me, I have always thought that Jacob left around forty years of age because Esau’s age is mentioned when he married (Genesis 26: 34) and the text moves right to Isaac being tricked and Jacob leaving. My first timeline is wrong, especially when it comes to Isaac and Jacob and Isaac’s death. So please except my “close” and use it that way. I used Excel and took screen shots to get my graphics so you will need to double click on them to view them.