​​​​​​CHRIST   END     TIME       CHURCH 


​KNOW YOUR ENEMY!!

VOLUME #  1 FOLLOW ME ON AMAZON

PRAYER WARRIORS CORNER

SCHEMES OF THE ENEMY

IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT RULES RELIGION, YOU MUST ALSO UNDERSTAND WHAT OPERATES BEHIND THEM IF YOU WANT TO STAY ALIVE IN THESE LAST DAYS, GOD EXPECTS YOU TO ALSO OVERCOME THEM.AFTER ALL JESUS DID. WHEN JESUS DIED THIS WAS WHERE HE WENT AND OPENED THE PRISON DOORS TO SET THE CAPTIVES FREE.THIS IS WHY IT IS ESSENTIAL FOR YOU TO BE SPIRITUALLY FREE!!


​PRAYER WARRIORS CORNER

​SEMIRAMIS 2ND EVE

​JEZEBEL   SPIRITS

​LILITH  1ST EVE

BOOK​ ​FOR PRAYER WARRIORS

​HOW SATAN STOPS OUR PRAYERS

HOW IS THIS RELATED TO THE PRAYER WARRIOR? 

​WE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WE KNOW SHALL MAKE US FREE.

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                       PRAYER WARRIORS AND INTERCESSORS CORNER

 

BEFORE YOU PRAY FOR OTHERS, YOUR SPIRIT MUST BE FREE FROM ALL ENCUMBERANCES OF THE ENEMY. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP YOUR SPIRIT FREE AND CLEAR OF ANY AND ALL STRONGHOLDS OF THE ENEMY. OTHERWISE WHEN YOU PRAY YOUR PRAYERS WILL NOT ONLY BE BLOCKED BY SATAN BUT THE PEOPLE YOU ARE PRAYING FOR WILL EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF NEGATIVE INFLUENCES ON THEIR SPIRITS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET RID OF THEMSELVES. THIS CREATES MORE PROBLEM FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL AND CAUSE THEIR LIVES TO BE MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE THEY NOW HAVE TO REMOVE THESE NEGATIVE INFLUENCES IN ORDER TO OVERCOME THEIR CIRCUMSTANCE.

I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO DO SOMETHING THAT I HAVE NOT PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED ,THIS IS WHY I WAS PROMPTED TO WRITE THIS INFO.

 

BEFORE YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF ELIGIBLE TO PRAY FOR OTHERS YOU MUST :

 

KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BY IDENTIFYING WHICH OF THE 4 CHERUBS THAT WORSHIPS GOD 24/7
REPRESENTS YOUR GIFT.

1.The Oxen: They are strong. God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt with the strength of the Oxen

2.The Lion: Jesus was known as the lion of the Tribe of JUDAH

3.The Human Face : They are always pushed to help others in need

4.The Eagle : Do you have the ability to worship God 24/7 do what he tell you to do, and go where he

                        tells you to go. Some of these places are not pleasant places, but his grace will keep you.

Anything else other than above, means somewhere along the line the yoke of ERROR crept in and now have you  operating under COMPROMISE or DECEPTION.

ERROR was the major stronghold satan used to get Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden and out of the presence of God. If you have fallen into this category then you MUST go back to the prayer closet in REPENTANCE before God.

Most of the churches that COMPROMISED fall under this category I mentioned above.

 
KNOW WHICH OF THE 7 CHURCHES YOU REPRESENT

Philadelphia?                 Smyrna                       Laodicia

Sardis?                            Thyatira  

Ephesus?                        Pergamus

 

When you identify your church do what God is asking you to do to come in perfection to his will, repent ,fast and pray to keep your temple clean.

You can know to which of these 7 churches you belong based on the circumstances in your life.

Getting saved is just the beginning of your walk as a child of God. You now need to work on clearing up your Spirit and removing all familiar Spirits that will block you from moving forward. What did Jesus do immediately after he got baptized. The word declares the devil led him into the wilderness. Right after God anoints you, immediately the devil is going to attack you to steal what God gave you ,you MUST protect this even if your life depends on it.

 
KNOW WHICH OF THE 12 TRIBES OF ISRAEL REPRESENTS YOU

The Tribes and Territories


Tribe of Judah

 

The Bible speaks more about the tribe of Judah than any other single tribe of Israel. Why is this tribe given so much attention? What is Judah’s future?

A lion: the biblical symbol of the tribe of Judah.

The history of the tribe of Judah, which eventually became a nation, begins in the book of Genesis. Judah was the fourth son of the patriarch Jacob by his first wife, Leah (Genesis 29:35). He grew up with his brothers, working in the family business tending cattle and sheep.

In time Judah and his brothers developed hatred from jealousy and envy of their younger brother Joseph. Joseph was favored by his father, who gave him a special coat (Genesis 37:3). But it was when Joseph told his brothers about his dreams, which indicated he would be greater than them, that their hatred of him intensified (verses 5-11).

The hatred grew to the point that the brothers wanted to actually kill Joseph; but Reuben, the firstborn, stepped in to stop them. Joseph was placed in a pit; and while Reuben was absent, Judah came up with the idea of selling Joseph to Midianite traders for 20 shekels of silver (verses 18-22, 26-29). The brothers killed a goat and covered Joseph’s coat with blood to deceive their father into believing a wild animal had killed him. Jacob could never get over his grief for the loss of his son (Genesis 37:35).

Find out what happened to the 12 tribes of Israel. Download the free booklet.

Judah suffers with family problems

Judah and his brothers thought they had taken care of the problem of their younger brother, but God did not let that be the end of the story. Judah’s family would suffer many trials over the next 20 years or more. Judah married a Canaanite woman named Shua. They had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.

Judah took a wife, Tamar, for his firstborn son, Er, but he was so evil that God took his life (Genesis 38:6-7). Judah commanded his second-born son, Onan, to marry Tamar and produce an heir for his deceased brother as God’s laws commanded in such circumstances. Onan would not carry through with this act because it would not be his heir. God then took Onan’s life for his refusal to give his brother an heir (Genesis 38:8-10).

A strange event in Judah’s life

Following Onan’s death, Judah asked Tamar to not remarry, but to wait in her father’s house until Judah’s youngest son, Shelah, was old enough to marry. Tamar complied with Judah’s wishes. But quite a number of years went by, and Judah’s wife, Shua, died. Tamar realized that she was not going to be given in marriage to Shelah, who was now grown (Genesis 38:11-14).

One day Tamar heard that her father-in-law was heading out to shear his sheep. She removed her widow’s garments and dressed to appear as a harlot as she sat along the road where Judah would pass by. Judah did not recognize her and propositioned her; and she demanded his signet, cord and staff for collateral. When it was later discovered that she was pregnant, Judah threatened her with death for harlotry. To save her life, she presented the items belonging to Judah and said, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child” (Genesis 38:18, 24-26).

Tamar had twins. At delivery, one twin put out his hand first and the midwife tied a scarlet thread on it and said, “This one came out first.” But the other twin, Perez, came out unexpectedly followed by Zerah with the scarlet thread tied on his hand (Genesis 38:27-30).

God would use the unusual birth of these twins to establish two lines of genealogy in the tribe of Judah.

The second great promise God gave to Abraham stated, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). This promise would come through the line of Perez. King David and the kings of Judah would descend through the line of Perez. But most importantly, Jesus Christ would come through this line so “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Matthew 1:3, 16).

 
Why the tribe of Judah?

In looking at the life of Judah and his character, it is hard to see why the tribe of Judah should become so prominent among the tribes of Israel. On the one hand, Joseph lived a righteous life and was blessed with the birthright in place of Reuben, the firstborn. The name of “Israel” was passed on to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Yet God also chose Judah and his descendants for a special place in His plan through the ages. The prophecy God gave to Jacob at the end of his life concerning his sons’ descendants “in the latter days” reveals a special blessing for the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:1, 8-10).

In speaking of the tribe of Judah, Jacob said, “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:8-10).

In this passage God looked at Judah as a strong warrior and likened him to a young lion sleeping in its den after devouring its prey. Perhaps it was this strength of character and determination that God foresaw in this tribe that influenced Him to choose Judah to be His lawgiver and the tribe from which His Son would later be born (Hebrews 7:14).

Regarding Genesis 49:10, Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “The word ‘Shiloh,’ found in some English versions, is simply an untranslated form of the Hebrew expression meaning ‘one to whom it belongs.’” Jesus Christ is the “one to whom it belongs.”

David was apparently inspired by this passage in Genesis 49 to twice say in the Psalms that “Judah is My lawgiver” (Psalms 60:7; 108:8).

The tribe of Judah has not only been a lawgiver, but a preserver of God’s written laws. The apostle Paul said, “What advantage then has the Jew? … Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles [that which was spoken or commanded] of God” (Romans 3:1-2). Through the centuries, the Jews have faithfully preserved the books of the Old Testament and the Hebrew calendar.

Judah prevails over his brothers

The postexilic writer of 1 Chronicles, probably Ezra, wrote, “Yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s” (1 Chronicles 5:2).

How did Judah prevail?

During the time of Moses, the tribe of Judah became the stronger tribe and “prevailed over his brothers.” The census in Numbers 1 shows that Judah was the leading tribe in population and in men who could go to war (Numbers 1:2-3, 27).

After the death of Joshua, God chose the tribe of Judah to take the lead in conquering the nations who were living in the land promised to the 12 tribes (Judges 1:2). The first chapter of Judges shows that the tribe of Judah was aggressive and strong in driving out the Canaanites in the southern half of the land of Canaan.

The good news for the tribe of Judah and this world is that the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” Jesus Christ, will return to establish the Kingdom of God, and the tribe of Judah will finally accept its Redeemer.An even more important way that Judah prevailed over his brothers took place during the time of King David. The tabernacle of God had long been in Shiloh in the territory of Joseph. But David set the stage for the temple to be built on Mount Zion, “which He [God] loved,” in the tribe of Judah (Psalm 78:67-70). God chose David to be His shepherd and Jerusalem (Mount Zion) for His place to dwell. God also chose David to hold the “scepter,” a symbol of kingship that would always remain in the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Psalm 89:34-37).

National captivity

After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel became divided. Solomon’s son Rehoboam refused to lighten the burden of taxes that had been imposed by his father. In fact, Rehoboam threatened to make life far worse for the people than what his father had done. This resulted in 10 tribes separating and becoming the northern kingdom of Israel with its capital city in Samaria (1 Kings 12:12-14). The tribes of Judah, Benjamin and a part of Levi stayed with Rehoboam and became the southern kingdom of Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The northern kingdom of Israel immediately went into idolatry and turned away from worshipping God. After 200 years, they went into national captivity at the hands of the Assyrian Empire.

The southern kingdom of Judah lasted more than a hundred years after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. Judah also turned away from the God of their fathers and went after idols several times, and several times righteous kings instituted reforms. God sent prophets to warn them of their slide into idolatry, but eventually they would no longer listen. The Jewish nation was taken into national captivity by the Babylonians in several waves of deportations culminating in 586 B.C.

End-time nationhood

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, some of the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, but they didn’t fully return to the status of a sovereign nation until the 20th century. Jesus—the Messiah, the Savior of mankind—would come through the tribe of Judah, but He would be rejected by His own people. The Church Jesus established initially sprang out of the tribe of Judah. But since the middle of the first century, the Church of God has become largely non-Jewish in membership.

Approaching the 20th century, many Jewish groups and Christian churches were advocating a homeland in Palestine for the tribe of Judah. Jewish groups wanted to return to Judea because it was their ancient homeland. Christian groups saw the establishment of a Jewish state as a sign of end-time prophecy being fulfilled that would lead to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. One such prophecy can be found in Daniel 12:11, which indicates that the Jews will resume animal sacrifices before the return of Christ. Presumably, they would need their own homeland to do this.

In 1917 the Balfour Declaration made public Great Britain’s support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. But it would not become a reality until May 14, 1948. Today, the nation called Israel is a major power in the Middle East, but will it remain such a power until the second coming of Jesus Christ?

Tribulation and restoration

Jesus in His Olivet Prophecy said, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). The tribe of Judah and the State of Israel will not be spared from this traumatic time. In Luke’s account of the same prophecy, Jesus said, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).

The prophet Zechariah also spoke of this same time, “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:2). Invasion and war will come to Jerusalem and to the tribe of Judah.

Following the prophecy of the invasion of Israel and Jerusalem, Zechariah announced the good news of the coming of Christ: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. … And the LORD shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:4, 9).

Jeremiah spoke of this same time when he said, “In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:6).

The good news for the tribe of Judah and this world is that the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” Jesus Christ (Revelation 5:5), will return to establish the Kingdom of God, and the tribe of Judah will finally accept its Redeemer (Romans 11:26).

Read more about this wonderful promised future in the section on the “Kingdom of God.” You can also find related articles in this section about the “12 Tribes of Israel” and the section about the “Middle East in Bible Prophecy.

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Judah?"

Answer: Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from their father, Jacob, just before Jacob’s death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Judah, Jacob prophesied, “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:8–12).

Each part of Jacob’s prophecy for the tribe of Judah reveals something about the people of that tribe, their history, and the spiritual application we can draw from it. In verse 8, Jacob prophesies that Judah’s brothers would praise him. Judah’s name signifies praise and was given him by his mother, her heart being filled with praises to God for him (Genesis 29:35). The strength and power of the tribe is also foretold in verse 8. Verse 9 uses the imagery of both a lion and the lion’s cub to portray the tribe of Judah. Judah was comparable to a young lion for his strength, courage, and vitality and to a mature lion in that the line of Judah contained those of national prominence and kingship, including David and Solomon.

The scepter not departing from Judah until “he comes to whom it belongs” is a Messianic prophecy. The name “Shiloh” appears in this verse in several translations, a word that refers to the Messiah. Commentators differ on the exact meaning of this somewhat obscure passage, but all agree that He who comes to obtain the obedience of the nations can be none other than Christ. The rest of the passage, verses 11–12, refers to the great abundance of riches that would belong to the tribe of Judah. So wealthy and blessed would they be that they would be able to tie a donkey to the choicest grapevine and allow him to eat his fill, an indication of the abundance that would belong to Judah.

The second application of verses 11–12, and the one that pertains to Christians today, is the abundance of spiritual riches available to us in Christ, the great quantity of spiritual blessings flowing from the love of God, which come to us through Christ, which are comparable to wine and milk. The riches include His word and His statutes and Christ Himself, the Bread of Life. These may also be applied to Christ and to His human nature, which was like a garment dipped in blood through His sufferings and death. Isaiah 63:1–3 contains this same imagery. It can also refer to His church and His people whose garments are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13–14).


Tribe of Issachar

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Issachar, the ninth son of Jacob, and a son of Leah, from whom it took its name; however some biblical scholars view this also as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[2] According to this biblical passage, the name Issachar refers to Leah hiring Jacob's sexual favours at the cost of some mandrakes; this suggests the etymology is ish-sachar, literally meaning man of hire, though the Bible says it means rewardor recompense, in reference to Issachar being the result of Jacob being hired (Gen 30:17).

A number of people think that some of the Israelite tribes actually originated as part of the sea peoples.[3] Issachar may be one of these, since in Egyptian accounts there is a tribe of sea peoples named Shekelesh; Shekelesh is here believed to be composed from shekel-ish, meaningmen of the shekel, a meaning synonymous with Issachar's man of hire. The biblical passage in which Leah is described as Issachar'smatriarch is one which is regarded by some textual scholars as having been spliced together from its sources in a manner which has highly corrupted the narrative; Leah as a matriarch is interpreted to suggest that the text's authors believed the tribe to be one of the original Israelite groups, and it is having a handmaiden—Bilhah or Zilpah—as a matriarch that would have indicated a foreign origin.[2] In the ancient Song of Deborah, Issachar is closely associated with Naphtali, which itself does have a handmaiden as matriarch, and at one point the text appears to have been changed by the word Issachar being inserted instead of Naphtali.[2]

Character[edit]

Traditionally, Issachar was seen as being dominated by religious scholars;[4] there is said by some to be an allusion to this in the Book of Chronicles[4]—...from Issachar, men who understood the times, and knew what Israel ought to do ...[5]—and if this is indeed an allusion to the tradition, then it would imply that the tradition was in existence by the time that the Book of Chronicles was compiled. In the Midrash, it is said that Issachar were the most influential in proselytism,[4] and that Jewish religious scholars were either from the tribe of Levi or that of Issachar.[6] Additionally, the Midrash argues that Issachar's description in the Blessing of Jacob—Issachar is a strong ass lying down between the sheepfolds: and he saw that settled life was good, and the land was pleasant; he put his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave under forced labour[7]—is a reference to the religious scholarship of the tribe of Issachar, rather than simply to a more literal interpretation of Issachar's name.[4]

 
Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Issachar?"

Answer: Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from his father, Jacob, just before Jacob’s death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and Jacob’s blessings contained prophetic information about each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Issachar, Jacob prophesied, “Issachar is a rawboned donkey, lying down between two burdens; He saw that rest was good, and that the land was pleasant; He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden, and became a band of slaves” (Genesis 49:14-15).

The first part of the prophecy about the tribe of Issachar, whose name means either “he will bring a reward” or “man of wages,” is somewhat obscure. The word translated “rawboned” in the NIV is translated “strong” in other versions. It can also mean “bony” as in “nothing but skin and bones.” Therefore, the prophecy could either mean that the descendants of Issachar would be strong and robust, able to bear burdens, or that they would be thin and weak and unable to do so.

The image of a donkey lying down between its burdens can also be interpreted two ways. On one hand, it could portray a sturdy animal resting for the task ahead. On the other hand, donkeys also are known to stubbornly crouch between their burdens to keep from having to do the work! Again, the prophecy eludes a dogmatic interpretation. The subsequent history of Issachar in the Bible does not conclusively favor either construal.

As for the second part of the prophecy, some commentators believe it is an indication that the descendants of Issachar would be farmers—the reference to “a band of slaves” means they would be servants of the land. Others see it as a prediction of forced labor, although nothing in Scripture indicates that the tribe of Issachar was ever forced into slavery of any kind. In fact, the Hebrew wording is so obscure that English translations vary widely. Consider the following:

KJV: “Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”

ESV: "Issachar is a strong donkey, crouching between the sheepfolds. He saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant, so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant at forced labor.”

NASB: “Issachar is a strong donkey, Lying down between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good And that the land was pleasant, He bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, And became a slave at forced labor.”

NIV: “Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. 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.”

There is another reference to the men of Issachar during the time of David’s struggle against Saul (1 Chronicles 12:32). The two hundred chiefs of Issachar who are faithful to David are described as those who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Scholars are divided on the meaning of the phrase “understood the times.” Some portray the men of Issachar as politically astute, knowing how to use current events to their own advantage. Others interpret the phrase to mean they were known for their understanding of astronomy and physical science. Still others see them as men of prudence and wisdom who, because of their religious scholarship, knew that this was the proper time for David to become king. The truth is that we really don’t know for sure.

As part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Issachar was conquered by the Assyrians around 720 B.C. and the tribe exiled. After that, all explicit biblical references to the tribe cease.

How are we to understand these references to Issachar and their different interpretations, and what do they mean to us as Christians? First, it’s important to understand that Jacob’s prophecies to his sons were just that—prophecies to his sons. We should be very careful when applying Old Testament passages to the Church Age or to Christians in general. We can, however, glean certain general principles regarding work and its rewards. The Bible makes it clear that work is a gift from God for the benefit of His people (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; 5:18-20) and those who don’t work shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The Bible contains numerous references to those who work as reaping rewards, both in the temporal and spiritual realms (2 Chronicles 15:7;1 Corinthians 3:8,14; 2 John 1:8; Revelation 2:23; 22:12).

There are some who would point to the different translations of Genesis 49:14-15 as evidence of the unreliability of the Bible. However, it must be remembered that such cases of obscurity are extremely rare, and none of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith are ever in question. Whether the donkey was bony or robust does not affect the Bible’s teaching on sin, death, judgment, heaven, hell, the atonement of Christ, or a myriad other doctrines. Scripture contains ample information regarding these doctrines to make them clearly understood to all who have “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9, 23).

Tribe of Zebulun

The Tribe of Zebulun plays an important part in the early history of Israel. At the census of the tribes in the Desert of Sinai during the second year of the Exodus, the tribe of Zebulun numbered 57,400 men fit for war (Numbers 1:31). This army, under the command of Eliab the son of Helon, encamped with Judah and Issachar east of the Tabernacle and with them made up the vanguard of the line of march (Numbers 2:3-9). Among the spies sent by Moses to view the land of Canaan, Gaddiel the son of Sodi represented Zebulun (Numbers 13:10).

At Shittim, in the land of Moab, after 24,000 men were slain for their crime, a second census was taken; Zabulon numbered 60,500 fighting men (Numbers 26:27). Elizaphan the son of Parnach was chosen to represent Zebulun at the division of the Promised Land (Numbers 34:25).

During the rule of Joshua it received no special mention. In the Song of Deborah, the tribe is specially singled out as having "offered their lives to death in the region of Merom," (Judges 5:18); and praised because there came "out of Zebulun they that led the army to fight," as in Hebrew, "they that carry the pen of the writer," i.e., such as recruiting and inspecting officers (Judges 5:14).

The reference is to Barak's campaign against Sisera, the commander of the forces of Jabin, King of Canaan (Judges 4:10). They answered the call of Gideon and joined in battle against Madian (Judges 6:35); and gave to Israel Elon, who judged it ten years (Judges 12:11). Among those that followed David to Hebron to make him king were 50,000 fully armed men of Zebulun with no double heart (I Chronicles 12:33), who brought with them, as sign of their hearty allegiance, bounteous supplies of meat and drink to celebrate the accession of their new ruler (I Chronicles 12:41). When Hezekiah made reparation for the abominations of his father Ahaz, he invited all Israel to keep the Passover in the house of the Lord. Mockery and ridicule met the emissaries of the reformer; yet some were true to the religion of their fathers, and, even from far away Zebulun, went up to Jerusalem, destroyed the idols, and kept the feast of the unleavened bread (II Chronicles 30:10-23).

Division of the land[edit]

At the division of the land of Israel among the seven tribes not yet provided for, the lot of Zebulun was third. The tribe's territory started with Sarid (Joshua 19:10), which is supposed to have been Tel Shadud,[3]some five miles southwest of Nazareth. Zebulun's boundaries have not been made out. Of the nineteen proper names that the book of Joshua gives to guide us, only Bethlehem of Galilee (Beit lahm, seven miles northwest of Nazareth) can be identified with certainty, although the archaeological site Tel Hanaton is associated with the city Hanaton listed as the boundary with Asher. The historian Josephus assigns to Zebulun the land near to Carmel and the sea, as far as the Lake of Genesareth.[4] To its northwest lay Asher, to the southeast Issachar. It included a part of the Jezreel Valley, and the great highway from the sea to the lake. Within the territory of Zebulun, Jesus was raised, and did and said much that is narrated in the Gospels, especially in the Synoptics, about his Galilean ministry.

Fate[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Zebulun was conquered by the Assyrians, and the tribe exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost.

Israeli Knesset member Ayoob Kara speculated that the Druze are descended from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, probably Zevulun. Kara stated that the Druze share many of the same beliefs as Jews, and that he has genetic evidence to prove that the Druze were descended from Jews.[5]


Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Zebulun?"

Answer: Zebulun is one of Israel’s twelve tribes. In the time of Moses, Zebulun was divided into three clans: the Seredites, the Elonites, and the Jahleelites, named after Zebulun’s sons (Numbers 26:26). The tribes were named for Jacob’s children (or grandchildren, in the cases of Ephraim and Manasseh).

Jacob’s tenth son, Zebulun, was the youngest of six borne by Leah. When Zebulun was born, Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons” (Genesis 30:20). Zebulun means “dwelling” or “honor.”

Zebulun was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses (Deuteronomy 27:13). By means of these curses, the people promised God they would refrain from certain behaviors. For example, one curse says, “Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol – a thing detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 27:15). Another states, “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow” (Deuteronomy 27:19). Still another: “Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out” (Deuteronomy 27:26). In all, Zebulun helped deliver twelve admonishments of this sort (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).

Upon entering the Promised Land, Zebulun failed to drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron and Nahalol, although Zebulun did subject them to forced labor (Judges 1:30). This was incomplete obedience to God’s clear command to drive out all the inhabitants of the land (Numbers 33:52). Not responding fully to God’s Word, as Zebulun demonstrated, is a trait to which we all can relate. How often do we choose to follow our own paths for various reasons, many of which may not be in concert with God’s wishes?

Later, Zebulun returned to God and followed His commands. They participated in the battles led by Deborah and Barak, and they fought valiantly (Judges 4:6; 5:18). The judge Elon was a Zebulunite (Judges 12:11). During the kingdom years, Zebulun joined David at Hebron to transfer Saul’s kingdom to David (1 Chronicles 12:23, 33, 40). This, too, provides insight into our behavior. While at times we turn away from God, His love for us, and ours for Him, draws us back into communion with Him and compliance with His will.

Zebulun’s territory was located in what later became known as Galilee, in Northern Israel. Moses’ blessing on the tribe was that they would prosper in their overseas dealings with Gentile nations (Deuteronomy 33:18-19). Isaiah prophesied, “In the past [God] humbled the land of Zebulun . . . but in the future he will honor Galilee” (Isaiah 9:1). Isaiah’s prediction is Messianic: Galilee (including Zebulun) would be honored as the first to hear Christ’s preaching, and this would more than compensate for their humiliation at the hands of the Assyrians centuries before.

Numerous verses in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, extol God for His unfailing patience, love, and faithfulness. Indirectly, Zebulun’s history reminds us that God is always present when we return to Him. No matter how battered or bruised we may be or how ashamed we may feel about past transgressions, God can still use us.

 Tribe of Ephraim

Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Ephraim a son of Joseph, from whom it took its name;[16] however some critical Biblical scholars view this also as postdiction, an eponymousmetaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[17] In the Biblical account, Joseph is one of the two children of Rachel and Jacob, a brother to Benjamin, and father to both Ephraim, and his first son, Manasseh; Ephraim received the blessing of the firstborn, although Manasseh was the eldest, because Jacob foresaw that Ephraim's descendants would be greater than his brother's.[18]

Though the biblical descriptions of the geographic boundary of the House of Joseph are fairly consistent, the descriptions of the boundaries between Manasseh and Ephraim are not, and each is portrayed as having exclaves within the territory of the other.[6] Furthermore, in the Blessing of Jacob, and elsewhere ascribed by textual scholars to a similar or earlier time period,[19] Ephraim and Manasseh are treated as a single tribe, with Joseph appearing in their place. From this it is regarded as obvious that originally Ephraim and Manasseh were considered one tribe — that of Joseph.[6] According to several biblical scholars, Benjamin was also originally part of the House of Joseph, but the biblical account of this became lost;[6][17] Benjamin being differentiated by being that part of Ephraim (House of Joseph) which joined theKingdom of Judah rather than that of Israel.

A number of biblical scholars suspect that the Joseph tribes (including Benjamin) represent a second migration of Israelites to Israel, later than the main tribes,[17] specifically that it was only the Joseph tribeswhich went to Egypt and returned, while the main Israelite tribes simply emerged as a subculture from the Canaanites and had remained in Canaan throughout;[17] in the narrative in the Book of Joshua, which concerns the arrival in (and conquest of) Canaan by the Israelites from Egypt, the leader is Joshua, who was a member of the Ephraim tribe. According to this view, the story of Jacob's visit to Laban to obtain a wife began as a metaphor for the second migration, with Jacob's new family, possessions, and livestock, obtained from Laban, being representations of the new wave of migrants;[17]

 
Character[edit]

In the account of the deuteronomic history, Ephraim is portrayed as domineering, haughty, discontented, and jealous, but in classical rabbinical literature, the biblical founder of the tribe is described as being modest and not selfish.[6] These rabbinical sources allege that it was on account of modesty and selflessness, and a prophetic vision of Joshua, that Jacob gave Ephraim precedence over Manasseh, the elder of the two;[6] in these sources, Jacob is regarded as sufficiently just that God upholds the blessing in his honour, and makes Ephraim the leading tribe.[6] Nevertheless, other classical rabbinical texts mock the tribe for the character it has in the deuteronomic history, claiming that Ephraim, being headstrong, left Egypt 30 years prior to the Exodus, and on arrival in Canaan was subjected to a disastrous battle with thePhilistines;[6] in the Midrashic Jasher this is portrayed as a rebellion of Ephraim against God, resulting in the slaying of all but 10, and the bleached bones of the slaughtered being strewn across the roads, so much so that the circuitous route of the Exodus was simply an attempt by God to prevent the Israelites from having to suffer the sight of the remains.[6]

Though from the point of view of an increasing majority of archaeologists, there were always two distinct cultures in Canaan, a strong and prosperous northern kingdom and a weaker and poorer southern one,[20] in the Biblical account the Israelite tribes were initially united in a single kingdom, and only later fractured into the northern and southern kingdoms; this fracture is blamed by the Bible on the jealousy of Ephraim over the growing power of Judah. In the Book of Chronicles, Ephraim's act of splintering from Judah is denounced as forsaking God,[21] and Ephraim is portrayed as becoming highly irreligious, particularly in their resistance to the reforms enacted by Hezekiah and Josiah.[22]

It was not until the close of the first period of Jewish history that God 'refused the tabernacle of Joseph (Hebrew Bible), and chose not the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, the Mount Zion which he loved'. (Ps 78:67,68) When the Ark was removed from Shiloh to Zion the power of Ephraim was sequestered.[citation needed]

Destiny[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Ephraim was conquered by the Assyrians, and the tribe exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost. However, several modern day groups claim descent, with varying levels of academic and rabbinical support. The Samaritans claim that some of their adherents are descended from this tribe, and many Persian Jews claim to be descendants of Ephraim. Further afield, in India the Telugu Jews claim descent from Ephraim, and call themselves Bene Ephraim, relating similar traditions to those of the Mizo Jews, whom the modern state of Israel regards as descendants of Manasseh.[23]

Several western Christian groups, in particular those of the Church of God in Christ, claim that the whole UK is the direct descendant of Ephraim, and that the whole United States is the direct descendant of Manasseh, based on the interpretation that Jacob had said these two tribes would become the most supreme nations in the world.[citation needed]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) believes a significant portion of its members to be descended from or adopted into the tribe of Ephraim, arguing that they are charged with restoring the lost tribes in the latter days as prophesied by Isaiah, and that the tribes of both Ephraim and Judah will play important leadership roles for covenant Israel in the last days; some believe that this would be the fulfilment of part of the Blessing of Jacob, where it states that Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall (Genesis 49:22, interpreting the "wall" as the ocean).[24]

 
Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Ephraim?"

Answer: Israel’s twelve tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Ephraim (and Manasseh), his grandchildren. Ephraim was born in Egypt to Joseph's wife, Asenath. Joseph named his second-born son “Ephraim” because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). When Jacob gave his blessing to his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, he chose to bless the younger Ephraim first, despite Joseph’s protests. In doing so, Jacob noted that Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh (Genesis 48:5–21).

Throughout the Old Testament, the name Ephraim often refers to the ten tribes comprising Israel’s Northern Kingdom, not just the single tribe named after Joseph’s son (Ezekiel 37:16; Hosea 5:3). The Northern Kingdom, also referred to as “Israel,” was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC (Jeremiah 7). The Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians nearly 140 years later (586 BC).

We learn from the tribe of Ephraim (and the other tribes) about our human essence, who we are as people. The history of the early Israelites reflects our universally flawed and sinful nature. As the book of Romans says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

There are several specific events regarding the tribe of Ephraim that we can learn from. While God gifted the tribe as warriors and valiant fighters (1 Chronicles 12:30), Ephraim failed to follow God’s order to remove the Canaanites from the Promised Land (Exodus 23:23–25; Judges 1:29; Joshua 16:10).

During the time of the judges, the Ephraimites became angry with Gideon because he had not initially called for their help in battling the Midianites (Judges 8:1). Gideon wisely displayed godly kindness and extolled the tribe’s commitment and willingness to serve the Lord, thus diffusing what could have become an ugly situation (Judges 8:2–3).

However, ugliness did arise later, and again it can be linked to Ephraim’s pride, jealously, and self-centeredness. When Jephthah chose to fight (and defeat) the Ammonites without the aid of the proud Ephraim warriors, a civil war erupted, and 42,000 warriors from Ephraim were killed. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Do not seek glory for yourself; all honor and glory always belong to God, not to man.

Often, God chooses to use us in a manner less glamorous or spectacular than we would like. Do we pout? Do we yearn for glory? Do we control our pride and jealousy and accept God’s will? Many of us, like the Ephraimites, have difficulty learning those lessons well. God says that we should accept what happens to us as His will, regardless of how good or bad those circumstances seem to us (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).

Other lessons of Ephraim complete the picture of the wide range of human behavior. We see Ephraim turning away from God and doing wicked things (Isaiah 28:1–3), yet we also find the tribe recognizing the need to repent and obey by following the prophet Oded’s instructions (2 Chronicles 28:12).

The biggest lesson from the history of Ephraim is that God loves us as the Perfect Father despite our failings. He is patient and merciful beyond our understanding. He hears our cries of anguish, disciplines and guides us, knows our moments of repentance, and yearns for us to be in perfect communion with Him (Jeremiah 30:22;31:18–20).


 Tribe of Manasseh

 Manasseh, son of Joseph

Manasseh was the older son of Joseph and Asenath, daughter of Potiphera (priest of the sun god Re of heliopolis). Manasseh is the ancestor of the Tribe of Manasseh. According to 1 Chronicles 7:14, Manasseh had an Aramean concubine who bore Machir, the father of Gilead.

When Jacob blessed his grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim, he gave the preferential treatment to Ephraim, instead of the older brother Manasseh, explaining that Ephraim would become greater than Manasseh. Before his death Jacob adopted his grandchildren Manasseh and Ephraim to be equal with his own sons (Genesis 48:5). The tribe of Manassah is the only tribe that settled on both sides of the Jordan River.

In the census taken in Numbers 26, Manasseh had 52,700 men who were twenty-years old or older, and Ephraim had 32,500. When added together, the sons of Joseph totaled 85,200, which was more than any other of Jacob's sons. In Revelation 7:1-8, Manasseh is mentioned as one of the tribes receiving the Seal of God for 12,000 of its members. The name Manasseh means "to forget."

Manasseh, king of Judah

Manasseh, son of King Hezekiah, and mother Hephzibah, began his reign at age 12. He reigned 55 years, the longest of any Hebrew King, but it was an evil reign. He rebuilt the heathen altars that his father Hezekiah had destroyed - the altars of Baal. He even built pagan altars in both courts of the Temple of the Lord, for worshiping the sun, moon and stars.

And Manasseh sacrificed his own children as burnt offerings in the valley of Hinnom. He consulted spirit mediums, fortune tellers and sorcerers. He angered the Lord by encouraging every sort of evil (2 Chronicles 33:4-6). He also murdered large numbers of innocent people (2 Kings 21:16).

Warnings by the Lord were ignored by both Manasseh and his people, so God sent the Assyrian armies, who captured him and took him into exile. It was in captivity that he came to his senses and cried out to God for help. As recorded in 2 Chronicles 33:13, The Lord answered his prayers by returning him to Jerusalem. At that point Manasseh realized that the Lord was really God.

Manasseh removed the foreign idols from the hills and the Temple and tore down the pagan altars. He then rebuilt the altar of the Lord, and offered sacrifices upon it. When Manasseh died, he was buried beneath his own palace, and his son Amon became the new king. The story of Manasseh is found in 2 Kings 21:1-17, and 2 Chronicles 33:1-20.

Interesting fact: The Lord had told Manasseh's father, Hezekiah, who was deathly sick, to prepare to die (2 kings 20:1). When Hezekiah broke down, cried and prayed to God, The Lord added 15 years to Hezekiah's life. Three years later his son, Manasseh, was born.


Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Manasseh?"

Answer: Israel’s twelve tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Manasseh (and Ephraim), his grandchildren. After Jacob wrestled with Him all night, God renamed Jacob “Israel,” which means “you have struggled with God and men and have overcome” (Genesis 32:22–30). The name Israel represents not only the modern-day country but also, originally, Jacob’s offspring to whom God promised a great nation whose “descendants will be like dust of the earth . . . spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south” (Genesis 28:14).

Jacob’s grandson, for whom the tribe was named, was born in Egypt to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, daughter of the priest Potiphera. Joseph named his firstborn “Manasseh” because God had made him “forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41:51).

This tribe provides us with many lessons; chief among them are messages about free will, obedience, faith, and the nature of God.

Early on, we learn that Manasseh is frequently referred to as the “half-tribe” of Manasseh. This designation highlights the choice made by some of the tribe to reside east of the River Jordan (Numbers 32:33; Joshua 13: 29–31). They believed the Transjordan was the more suitable land to raise their flocks. The rest of the tribe settled west of the Jordan, in Canaan, following Joshua’s command to enter and possess the Promised Land. As is evident throughout Scripture, God endows His children with the freedom to choose.

Exercising free will can lead to undesirable or even disastrous results, especially if we disobey God or make selfish choices. Manasseh learned this lesson—painfully—when they failed to obey God’s command to destroy the Canaanites. Part of this failure was due to a lack of faith that God would give them strength to overcome a seemingly unconquerable foe. Manasseh illustrates other human failings as well, such as greed and covetousness. The (half) tribe of Manasseh desired more land because they were “a numerous people.” They may have had the numbers, but they were unwilling to follow Joshua’s exhortation to clear “the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites” (Joshua 17:12-18).

On the other hand, the tribe of Manasseh at times exhibits faithfulness to God. Gideon, who would later become one of Israel’s best judges, questioned God when called to “save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” One of Gideon’s objections was that his “clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). Gideon required proof from God—twice—before he acted (Judges 6:36–40). Once convinced of God’s will, Gideon moved forward with 32,000 troops to conquer the Midianites. But then God told Gideon that he had too many troops for the job, and God reduced his corps to a mere 300 men. Following God’s lead, this paltry force routed the enemy. The battle proved God was with Gideon and the half-tribe of Manasseh.

Other interesting lessons emerge. One is that God is just. Zelophehad, great-great-grandson of Manasseh, had no sons and died in the desert before entering the Promised Land. His daughters petitioned Moses, asking that the practice of male inheritance be changed so they could receive their deceased father’s property. After consulting with the Lord, Moses agreed and developed rules designed to keep property within a family (Numbers 27:1–11)

Tribe of Benjamin

Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob with Rachel.

Character[edit]

In the Blessing of Jacob, Benjamin is referred to as a ravenous wolf;[2] traditional interpretations often considered this to refer to the might of a specific member of the tribe, either the champion Ehud, king Saul, or Mordecai of the Esther narrative, or in Christian circles, the apostle Paul.[3] The Temple in Jerusalem was traditionally said to be partly in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin (but mostly in that of Judah), and some traditional interpretations of the Blessing consider the ravenous wolf to refer to the Temple's altar, as simile in regard to the heavy presence there of biblical sacrifices.[3] Some scholars believe that it instead originates from the tribe having the figure of a wolf in its standard.

The Battle of Gibeah[edit]

Main article: Battle at Gibeah

The tribe of Benjamin is initially described in the Bible as being very pugnacious,[3] for example in the Song of Deborah, and in descriptions where they are described as being taught to fight left handed, so as to be able to wrong foot their enemies (Judges 3:15-21, 20:16, 1 Chronicles 12:2) and where they are portrayed as being brave and skilled archers. (1 Chronicles 8:40, 2 Chronicles 14:8)

However, an abrupt change of character to one of placidity occurs in the text after a traumatic incident for the tribe.[3] The Book of Judges recounts that an incident of the rape of a concubine who belonged to a member of the tribe of Levi, by part of the tribe resulted in a Battle at Gibeah, in which the other tribes of Israel sought vengeance, and after which the surviving members of Benjamin were systematically slaughtered, including women and children. When Benjamin was nearly extinguished, it was decided that the tribe should be allowed to survive, and the 600 surviving men of Benjamin were married off to women from the tribe of Machir, whose men had been killed when it was discovered that they had not participated in the war against Benjamin. (Judges 19-21)

When these events took place is subject to academic dispute. According to textual scholars,[who?] biblical text that describes the battle and surrounding events is considerably later, originating close to the time that they postulate as the date of the deuteronomist's compilation of Judges from its source material, and may exaggerate numbers and of modes of warfare,[3][citation needed] and additionally, the inhospitality that triggered the Battle is reminiscent of the Torah's account of Sodom and Gomorrah.[3]

Territory[edit]

According to the Hebrew Bible, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE,[4] Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. To Benjamin he assigned the territory between that of Ephraim to the north and Judah to the south, with the Jordan River as the eastern border, and included many historically important cities, such as Bethel, Gibeah, and encroached on the northern hills of Jerusalem. (Joshua 18:11-28)

Modern Israeli scholars have identified most of the towns mentioned in the Book of Joshua and that belong to the lot of Benjamin. Only those towns and villages on the northern-most and southern-most territorial boundary lines, or purlieu, are named in the land allocation—though, in actuality, all unnamed towns and villages in between these boundaries would still belong to the tribe of Benjamin. TheBabylonian Talmud[5] names three of these cities, all of which were formerly enclosed by a wall, and belonged to the tribe of Benjamin: Lydda (Lod), Ono (Kfar 'Ana = كفر ئنا - wherein is now built Or Yehudah), and Gei Ha-ḥarashim. Presumably, the westward boundary of the tribe of Benjamin would have stretched as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Marking what is now one of the southern-most butts and bounds of Benjamin's territory is "the spring of the waters of Nephtoah" (Josh. 18:15), a place identified as Kefar Lifta (كفر لفتا), and situate on the left-hand side of the road as one enters Jerusalem. It is now an abandoned Arab village. The word Lifta is merely a corruption of the Hebrew name Nephtoah, and where a natural spring by that name still abounds.[6]

Though Jerusalem was in the territory allocated to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28), it remained under the independent control of the Jebusites. Judges 1:21 points to the city being within the territory of Benjamin, while Joshua 15:63 implies that the city was within the territory of Judah. In any event, Jerusalem remained an independent Jebusite city until it was finally conquered by David[7] in c. 11th century BC and made into the capital of the united Kingdom of Israel.[8][9] After the breakup of the United Monarchy, Jerusalem continued as the capital of the southern Kingdom of Judah.

The ownership of Bethel is also ambiguous. Though Joshua allocated Bethel to Benjamin, by the time of the prophetess Deborah, Bethel is described as being in the land of the Tribe of Ephraim. (Judges 4:5) Then, some twenty years after the breakup of the United Monarchy, Abijah, the second king of Kingdom of Judah, defeated Jeroboam of Israel and took back the towns of Bethel, Jeshanah and Ephron, with their surrounding villages.[10] Ephron is believed to be the Ophrah that was also allocated to the Tribe of Benjamin by Joshua.[11]

Its situation, between the leading tribe of the Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), and the leading tribe of the Kingdom of Judah (Judah),may have been prophesied in the Blessing of Moses, where it is described asdwelling between YHWH's shoulders.[12] Some textual scholars view this as a postdiction - maintaining that the poem was written long after the tribe had settled there.[13]

Fate[edit]

After the dissolution of the united Kingdom of Israel in c. 930 BCE, the Tribe of Benjamin joined the Tribe of Judah as a junior partner in the Kingdom of Judah, or Southern Kingdom. The Davidic dynasty, which had roots in Judah, continued to reign in Judah. As part of the kingdom of Judah, Benjamin survived the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians, but instead was subjected to the Babylonian captivity; when the captivity ended, the distinction between Benjamin and Judah was lost in favour of a common identity as Israel, though in the biblical book of Esther, Mordecai is referred to as being of the tribe of Benjamin,[14]and as late as the time of Jesus of Nazareth some (notably Paul the Apostle) still identified their Benjamite ancestry.[15]

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Benjamin?"

Answer: In Genesis 49 the patriarch Jacob, sensing his impending death, gathers his sons to his bedside to bless them. Each son became the progenitor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Benjamin, as the youngest, receives his father’s blessing last: “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Genesis 49:27). The warlike nature of the small tribe of Benjamin became well known, as exhibited in their swordsmen (Judges 20:15–16; 1 Chronicles 8:40, 12:2; 2 Chronicles 14:8,17:17) and in their ungodly defense of their extreme wickedness in Gibeah (Judges 19—20).

Benjamin’s blessing has three parts. Compared to a wolf, his blessing has two time frames, morning and evening; it has two actions, devouring and dividing; and two outcomes, prey and spoil. This sets up a type of “before and after” experience for Benjamin and his offspring.

Scripture shows that at least four great people came from Benjamin’s tribe, even though it was the smallest of the twelve tribes (1 Samuel 9:21). First, Ehud, a great warrior who delivered Israel from Moab (Judges 3:12–30). Next, Saul becomes the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9:15–27). In later Jewish history, many Jews lived in Persia, God used Mordecai and Esther, from the tribe of Benjamin, to deliver the Jews from death (Esther 2:5–7). Finally, in the New Testament the apostle Paul affirms he, too, came from Benjamin. “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). Paul repeats this affirmation in Philippians 3:4–5.

Yet Benjamin’s tribe had its dark side. Their warlike nature came out not only in defense of their country but also in depravity within their country. In Judges 19—21 Benjamin takes up an offence against the other eleven tribes of Israel, and civil war ensues. This period had the reputation of everyone doing what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). What led to the civil war was the horrific abuse and death of an unnamed Levite’s concubine (Judges 19:10–28). The eleven tribes turned against the tribe of Benjamin and nearly annihilated them because of their refusal to give up the perpetrators (Judges 20:1—21:25). Eventually, the tribes restored Benjamin’s tribe, greatly diminished due to the war, and the country reunited.

In Jewish culture the day begins at evening. Here begins the “after” for Benjamin. Benjamin’s prophecy ends in the evening, the beginning of a new day, in which he will “divide the spoil.” This has two aspects. First, through the apostle Paul, who testifies, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). In the apostle Paul Benjamin’s tribe had a citizen who served God mightily, as he says of himself, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith“ (2 Timothy 4:7).

But Benjamin’s “dividing of the spoil” has another fulfillment yet future. In Revelation 7:8, during the tribulation period, 12,000 men from Benjamin, along with 12,000 from each of the other tribes of Israel, will reach the world’s population with the gospel. The result will be a multitude of the saved “that no man could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9). The second dividing of the spoil for Benjamin comes in the millennial kingdom when they will have a place in the land of Israel, along with a gate that has their name on it in the city of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 48:32). They, along with the other tribes of Israel, will find the ultimate dividing of the spoils in the New Jerusalem as each gate has a name of one of the tribes, Benjamin included (Revelation 21:12–13). What a glorious finish! What grace is this!

Benjamin has great truths to teach. First, God doesn’t see as men see, for God looks on the heart. God saw a warrior inside of Benjamin. Outwardly, others saw him as the youngest son and his tribe as the smallest tribe. But God saw more, a man who would both devour and divide. The second lesson for us lies in the two Sauls who came from the tribe of Benjamin. King Saul, the epitome of the sin nature and its war against God, and Saul/Paul whose nature was changed by God from a murderous Pharisee to the apostle of grace. Paul is the example of what God does for those who come to Christ in faith.


 Tribe of Dan
Origin [edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Dan, a son of Jacob and Bilhah, Rachel's maidservant (Genesis 30:4). In the biblical account, Dan is one of the two children of Bilhah, the handmaid of Jacob's wife Rachel, the other child of Bilhah being Naphtali. Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Dan and Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin (being descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives).[1] Some have noted that the territory of the handmaid tribes happens to be the territory closest to the north and eastern borders of Canaan, thus exposing them to Assyria and Aram.[2] However, other tribes born to wives, including the firstborn Reuben, were also included on the eastern outskirts, and immediately adjacent to Israel's more traditional enemies at the time of their entry to Canaan, the Moabites and Ammonites.

The initial territory of Dan appears in dark green north of Philistia on this map of the tribes.


History[edit]

The Dan tribe's serpent plate on the Heichal Shlomo's door in Jerusalem

In the Biblical census of the Book of Numbers, the tribe of Dan is portrayed as the second largest Israelite tribe (after Judah).[3] Some textual scholars regard the census as being from the Priestly Source, dating it to around the 7th century BC, and more likely to reflect the biases of its authors, though this still implies that Dan was one of the largest tribes at a point fresh to the memories of the 7th century BC.[4][5] In the Blessing of Moses, which some textual scholars regard as dating from only slightly earlier than the deuteronomist,[4] In Moses' blessing Dan is prophesied to "leap from Bashan"; scholars are uncertain why this should be since the tribe did not live in theBashan plain, east of the Jordan.[1]

Conquest and territory[edit]

According to the Hebrew Bible, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE,[6] Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. Dan was the last tribe to receive its territorial inheritance.[7][8] According to the biblical narrative, the land originally allocated to Dan was a small enclave in the central coastal area of Canaan, between Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim and the Philistines.[9] On the north the territory of Dan ended opposite Joppa, the modern Jaffa. This territory, not very extensive originally, was soon diminished by its dangerous neighbors, the Philistines.[1] The tribe was only able to camp in the hill country overlooking the Sorek Valley, the camp location becoming known as Mahaneh Dan ("Camps of Dan"). (Joshua 19) The region they were trying to settle extended south into the Shephelah in the area of Timnah; as a result, the modern state of Israel refers to the region as Gush Dan (the Dan area).

From after the conquest of the land by Joshua until the formation of the first united Kingdom of Israel in c. 1050 BC, the Tribe of Dan was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed, and in times of crisis the people were led by ad hoc leaders known as Judges.[10]

The most celebrated Danite was Samson, a Danaite judge from the period of settlement in the lands allotted by Joshua. Pnina Galpaz-Feller sees similarities between the story of Samson and Denyen tribal legends.[10]

As a consequence of the pressure from the Philistines, the tribe abandoned hopes of settling near the central coast, instead migrating to the north of Philistine territory, and after conquering Laish, refounded it as their capital (renaming it Dan) (Judges 18). Thus their territory in the end lay northwest of that of Naphtali, east of the upperJordan River, near its eastern sources.

United Monarchy[edit]

With the growth of the threat from Philistine incursions, the Israelite tribes decided to form a strong centralised monarchy to meet the challenge, and the Tribe of Dan joined the new kingdom with Saul as the first king. After the death of Saul, all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul, but after the death of Ish-bosheth, Saul's son and successor to the throne of Israel, the Tribe of Dan joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, king of a re-united Kingdom of Israel.[11]

Northern Kingdom of Israel[edit]

However, on the accession of Rehoboam, David's grandson, in c. 930 BC the northern tribes split from the House of David to reform a Kingdom of Israel as the Northern Kingdom.[11]

Assyrian conquest and demise[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Dan was conquered by the Assyrians, and exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost.

Claims of descent from Dan[edit]

Simon Magus, also known as Simon the Sorcerer, and Simon the Magican, came from the village of Gitta (also spelled Getta) in Samaria, according to Justin Martyr;[12] a site settled by the tribe of Dan according to Josephus.[13][14] Justin, who was himself a 2nd-century native of Samaria, wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of Simon. Surviving orthodox texts, such as those ofIrenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius, regarded Simon as the source of all heresies, including Gnosticism. Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel, claim descent from the Tribe of Dan, whose members migrated south along with members of the tribes of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, into the Kingdom of Kush, now Ethiopia and Sudan,[15] during the destruction of the First Temple. This position is supported by former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.[16] They are said to have fought with the natives.[17] Charles Upton relates the serpent voodoo God Danbhala as derived in part from a heterodox form of Ethiopian Judaism.[18]

Characteristics[edit]

Their primary trade characteristic was seafaring, unusual for the Israelite tribes.[19] In the Song of Deborah the tribe is said to have stayed on their ships with their belongings.[20][21][22]

Iconography[edit]

Scales of justice emblem of the tribe

Modern artists use the "scales of justice" to represent the Tribe of Dan due to Genesis 49:16 referencing Dan "shall achieve justice for his kindred". However, more traditional artists use a snake to represent Dan, based on Genesis 49:17, "Let Dan be a serpent by the roadside, a horned viper by the path, That bites the horse's heel, so that the rider tumbles backward."

Book of Revelation[edit]

The Book of Revelation (7:4–8), mentions that people from the twelve tribes of Israel will be sealed. The selection of the twelve tribes does not include the names of Ephraim and Dan, although their names were used for the twelve tribes that settled in the Promised Land. It has been suggested that this could be because of their pagan practices.[23] This made Hippolytus of Rome and a few Millennialists propose that the Antichrist will come from the tribe of Dan.[24][25


Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Dan?"

Answer: The tribe of Dan was the group of people who descended from the fifth son of Jacob, Dan. Jacob went on to have twelve sons who became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. The history of the tribe of Dan is especially instructive to us in that it contains multiple examples of the tendency of people to follow man-made religion over biblical faith in God. This is totally contrary to the Scriptures that teach us “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20) and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

As the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, by lot certain areas of territory were assigned to each tribe. The tribe of Dan was given a tract of land that was smaller than the other land grants but was fertile and also had a boundary along the Mediterranean Sea where there was fishing and commerce available to them.

However, the tribe of Dan never fully conquered this area as a result of a lack of faith in God. This was true of the other tribes as well, as the early chapters of the book of Judges clearly teach, and led to a time during the period of Judges where it was said, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 18:1–31 tells the story of the people of Dan falling into idolatry. They also did not like the territory that was theirs, so they sent out spies to find a better area. In the north, some representatives of Dan learned of an area where a peaceful group of people lived. The tribe of Dan took things into their own hands and wiped out the people of that land so they could then move the entire tribe up to a region close to the sources of the Jordan River, just south of present-day Lebanon. There they established their main city and called it Dan.

Later in the history of the Hebrews, the kingdom was divided after the reign of Solomon. The kingdom split into Israel’s ten tribes in the north and Judah’s two in the south. The people of Dan were in the northern kingdom of Israel. We learn in 1 Kings 12:25–33 that King Jeroboam was afraid that those who lived in his kingdom in the north would still go down to the southern kingdom to worship at Jerusalem, since that was where the temple that God had authorized was located. So Jeroboam built two additional altars for the people of his nation to worship. He established worship in the south at Bethel and in the north at Dan. He built a golden calf at each location and instituted special days and feasts when people would meet. Sadly, this man-made worship at Dan has been one of its lasting legacies.

Today, many people follow various man-made religions and are convinced that all ways lead to God. Unfortunately, these groups follow the ways of the tribe of Dan. Proverbs 16:25 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Jesus taught that the way to God was specific when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). John 3:36teaches that “he who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To learn from the mistakes of Dan would be to worship the God of the Bible alone and live for Him by faith.

 

Tribe of Asher

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Asher (Hebrew: אָשֵׁר, Modern Asher, Tiberian ʼĀšēr; "happy one") was one of the Tribes of Israel.

Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE,[1] Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. To Asher he assigned western and coastal Galilee, (Joshua 19:24-31) a region with comparatively low temperature, and much rainfall, making it some of the most fertile land in Canaan, with rich pasture, wooded hills, and orchards; as such Asher was particularly prosperous, and known for its olive oil.[2]

The Blessing of Moses appears to prophesy this allocation, although textual scholars view this as a postdiction.[3][4]

From after the conquest of the land by Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel in c. 1050 BC, the Tribe of Asher was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed, and in times of crisis the people were led by ad hoc leaders known as Judges (see the Book of Judges). With the growth of the threat from Philistine incursions, the Israelite tribes decided to form a strong centralized monarchy to meet the challenge, and the Tribe of Asher joined the new kingdom with Saul as the first king. After the death of Saul, all the tribes other than Judah remained loyal to the House of Saul, and followed his son Ish-bosheth, [5] but after Ish-bosheth's death, the Tribe of Asher joined the other northern Israelite tribes in making David, who was then the king of Judah, king of a re-united Kingdom of Israel.

On the accession of Rehoboam, David's grandson, in c. 930 BC the northern tribes split from the House of David to reform a Kingdom of Israel as the Northern Kingdom. Asher was a member of the kingdom until the kingdom was conquered by Assyria in c. 723 BC and the population deported. From that time, the Tribe of Asher has been counted as one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

In the New Testament, Anna the prophetess and her father, Phanuel, are described as belonging to the Tribe of Asher.[6]

 

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Asher?"

Answer: Asher is one of Israel’s twelve tribes. In the time of Moses, Asher was divided into five clans: the Imnites; the Ishvites; and the Berites; and, through Beriah, the Berite patriarch, two more clans: the Heberites and the Malkielites. The first three clans were named after Asher’s sons; the fourth and fifth after Beriah’s sons (Numbers 26:44-45).

Asher was Jacob’s eighth son. His mother was Leah’s maidservant, Zilpah, and he was her second and last child with Jacob. When Asher was born, Leah said, “How happy am I! The women will call me happy” (Genesis 30:13). Asher’s name means “happy.”

Asher was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses (Deuteronomy 27:13). Through these curses, the people promised God they would refrain from bad behavior. For example, one curse says, “Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother” (Deuteronomy 27:16). Another states, “Cursed is the man who leads the blind astray on the road” (Deuteronomy 27:18). Still another: “Cursed is the man who sleeps with his mother-in-law” (Deuteronomy 27:23). In all, Asher delivered twelve admonishments (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).

When Jacob blessed his sons, he said, “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king” (Genesis 49:20). Later, Moses blessed the tribe, saying, "Most blessed of the sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days” (Deuteronomy 33:24). Washing one’s feet in oil was a sign of prosperity, and Jacob’s reference to Asher’s food being “rich” indicated that Asher would possess fertile lands. In Joshua 19:24-31, we learn that Asher received land along the Mediterranean coast.

Despite all its blessings, the tribe of Asher failed to drive out the Canaanites, and “because of this the people of Asher lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land” (Judges 1:31-32). In the time of Deborah and Barak, “Asher remained on the coast and stayed in its coves” rather than join the fight against Jabin, a Canaanite king (Judges 5:17). This failure to aid their fellow tribes could indicate a lack of reliance on God, a lack of effort, a fear of the enemy, or a reluctance to upset those with whom they did business. Thus, the example set here is a negative one: although Asher was richly blessed, they did not behave admirably; when the time for action came, they failed to trust in God and honor His plan.

Later in Judges, Asher does respond to Gideon’s call to repel the Midianites, Amalekites, and others from the East (Judges 6:35). In another important gesture, Asher accepts Hezekiah’s invitation to the tribes from the Northern Kingdom to join the Passover celebration in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:11). This was considered an act of humility, proof of a contrite heart before God.

In the end, we find that Asher received many great blessings from God. Having received a blessing, they were expected to obey the Lord’s commands. In this they sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed. We, too, have been blessed by God (Ephesians 1:3), and the Lord expects us to obey His commands (John 14:15). Just as Asher received a prophetic blessing from Jacob, God’s children have received this promise: “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Praise the Lord for His wonderful plans for us. What a comfort!

Map of the twelve tribes of Israel

Despite the connection to this general geographic region, it is difficult to determine from the Torah the exact boundaries of the tribe, to the extent that it is even uncertain whether Asher even had continuous territory.[7] Sites which according to the Bible were allocated to Asher, and whose locations have since been identified, appear to be a scattered distribution of settlements rather than a compact and well-defined tribal region.[7] Despite appearing to have had good contact with the markets of Phoenicia, Asher appears, throughout its history, to have been fairly disconnected from the other tribes of Israel; additionally it seems to have taken little part in the antagonism portrayed in the Torah between the Canaanites and the other tribes, for example in the war involving Barak and Sisera.[7] Critical scholars generally conclude that Asher consisted of certain clans that were affiliated with portions of the Israelite tribal confederation, but were never incorporated into the body politic.[7]

Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Asher the eighth son of Jacob, from whom it took its name.

Critical scholars view this as an eponymous metaphor.[4] Asher is one of the two descendants of Zilpah, originally a handmaid of Leah, the other being Gad; critical scholars claim that the authors intended this to mean Asher and Gad were not of entirely of Israelite origin.[7]

Archaeological evidence[edit]

A group named Aseru, living in a similar region to Asher in the 14th century BC, are mentioned in Egyptian monuments of the period. Identification with the tribe of Asher is plausible according to views that place the Exodus at the end of the Hyksos period but conflicts with views that date it to the 13th century.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

 
Tribe of Naphtali

 
Origin[edit]

Map of the 12 tribes of Israel. Naphtali is located in the north.

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Naphtali, a son of Jacob and Bilhah, from whom it took its name. However, Biblical scholars view this as a postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[7]

Character[edit]

Militarism is featured in Naphtali's history. In the ancient Song of Deborah, Naphtali is commended, along with Zebulun, for risking their lives in the fight againstSisera;[8] in the prose account of the event,[9] which textual scholars regard as a much later narrative based on the poem,[7][10] there is the addition that Barak, the leader of the anti-Sisera forces, hails from the tribe of Naphtali.[11] In the Gideon narrative Naphtali are one of the tribes which join in an attack against Midianiteinvaders, though textual scholars regard the Gideon narrative as being spliced together from at least three earlier texts, the oldest of which describes only personal vengeance by Gideon and 300 men of his own clan, not a battle in which the rest of the northern tribes join him.[12] In the Blessing of Jacob, which textual scholars date to 700-600 BC - and thus a postdiction, Naphtali is compared to a hind let loose, and commended for giving goodly words.[13]

The territory allotted to the tribe in Canaan was in the extreme north, and was bordered on the north by the Litani River, on the east by the River Jordan until it was 12 miles (19 km) south of the Sea of Galilee, on the west by the tribes of Asher and Zabulon; and on the south by the tribe of Issachar.[14]

Fate[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, during one of the several wars between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, Naphtali was persecuted by Ben-Hadad, the king ofAram-Damascus, on behalf of Asa, the king of Judah, and desolated. Centuries later, the Assyrians invaded Israel, which, though it had been a tributary, had alsodefaulted, and so Naphtali, one of the most northerly tribes, became one of the first to be conquered. With the land taken, the tribe were exiled; the manner of their exile led to their further history being lost.

The symbol of the tribe is a gazelle-a very quick animal. The people of Naftali were famous for being great runners.[citation needed]

There has been speculation that the Bukharian Jews of Central Asia are the descendants of the Naphtali tribe.[15

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Naphtali?"

Answer: Israel’s tribes were named for Jacob’s children. Naphtali, being the sixth son of Jacob, is one of Israel’s twelve tribes. In the time of Moses, Naphtali was divided into four clans: the Jahzeelites, the Gunites, the Jezerites, and the Shillemites, named after Naphtali’s sons (Numbers 26:48–49). Naphtali was borne by Rachel’s maidservant, Bilhah. He was her second and last child with Jacob. When Naphtali was born, Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won” (Genesis 30:8). Naphtali means “my struggle.”

Naphtali was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses (Deuteronomy 27:13). By means of these curses, the people promised God they would refrain from certain behaviors. For example, one curse says, “Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor’s boundary stone” (Deuteronomy 27:17). Another states, “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien or fatherless or the widow” (Deuteronomy 27:19). Still another: “Cursed is the man who kills his neighbor secretly” (Deuteronomy 27:24). In all, Naphtali helped deliver twelve such admonishments (Deuteronomy 27:15–26).

When Jacob blessed his twelve sons, he said, “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns” (Genesis 49:21). The image presented is of one who springs forth with great speed and provides good news. Later, Moses blessed the tribe: “Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the Lord and is full of his blessing; he will inherit southward to the lake” (Deuteronomy 33:23). In Joshua 19:32–39, we learn that Napthali’s land was in northern Israel, bordering Asher’s territory, and the Sea of Kinnereth (or Galilee) touched the southern portion of its territory.

Despite all their blessings, the tribe of Naphtali failed to obey God’s command to drive out all the Canaanites living in their territory. Therefore, “the Naphtalites too lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land, and those living in Beth Shemesh or Beth Anath became forced labor for them” (Judges 1:33).

In Judges 4:6–9, we learn that Barak was a Naphtalite. He had been chosen by God to lead a military force of 10,000 of his tribe against their Canaanite oppressors. However, when the time came for action, Barak responded in fear and cowardice, agreeing to fight against King Jabin’s army only if Deborah the judge would accompany him. Deborah consents, but she prophesies that the honor for the victory would go to a woman and not to Barak. The prophecy was fulfilled in Judges 4:17–22.

“The Song of Deborah and Barak” (Judges 5) relates that the tribe of Naphtali risked their lives “on the heights of the field” (verse 18) and so was honored in the victory over the Canaanites.

Later, Naphtali responded to Gideon’s call to repel the Midianites, Amalekites, and others from the East from their encampment in the Jezreel Valley (Judges 6:35). Along with the tribes of Asher and Manasseh, Naphtali followed Gideon into battle and chased the Midianites to Zererah and Abel Meholah (Judges 7:23).

When the time came for David to assume the throne, the tribe of Naphtali provided “1,000 officers, together with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears,” along with a caravan of food, to help him (1 Chronicles 12:34,40). When King Solomon was building the temple, he hired Huram, a man whose mother was a Naphtalite, to do the bronze work (1 Kings 7:13–47).

In the time of Christ, the land of Naphtali was part of the area of Galilee, and it was viewed by the Jews in Judea as a place of dishonor, full of Gentile pagans (see John 1:46; 7:52). But Isaiah had prophesied that Naphtali would be honored: “In the past he humbled . . . the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan” (Isaiah 9:1). This honor came with the coming of Jesus Christ. All Jesus’ disciples but Judas, who betrayed Him, hailed from Galilee, and much of Jesus’ ministry took place there. Thus, “on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

The tribe of Naphtali had its ups and downs. Its history includes incomplete obedience and shades of cowardice, but it also includes bravery under Gideon and a godly support of King David. Probably the greatest lesson we can take from Naphtali is that God exalts the humble. Naphtali (as part of Galilee) was despised, and Nazareth was the lowest of the low. Yet Nazareth was Jesus’ hometown, and Galilee was exactly where Jesus chose to begin His ministry. For our sakes, He became “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). The King of kings had the most unpretentious start. He is truly “humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29


Tribe of Simeon

 According to the Hebrew Bible, the tribe consisted of descendants of Simeon, the second son of Jacob and of Leah, from whom it took its name; however some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[8] With Leah as a matriarch, Biblical scholars believe the tribe to have been regarded by the text's authors to have been part of the original Israelite confederation. However, the tribe is not mentioned in the ancient Song of Deborah, and some scholars think that Simeon was not originally regarded as a distinct tribe;[9] according to Israel Finkelstein, the south of Canaan, in which Simeon was situated, was simply an insignificant rural backwater at the time the poem was written.[10]

Character[edit]

The impression gained from the Books of Chronicles is that the tribe wasn't entirely fixed in location; at one point it is mentioned that some members of the tribe migrated southwards to Gedor, so as to find suitable pasture for their sheep.[11] In the following verse, which may or may not be related,[12] it is mentioned that during the reign of Hezekiah, part of the tribe came to the land of some Meunim, and slaughtered them, taking the land in their place.[13]Further verses state that about 500 men from the tribe migrated to Mount Seir, slaughtering the Amalekites who had previously settled there.[14]

According to the Midrash, many families in the other Israelite tribes were descended from women from Simeon, which had been widowed from their original Simeonite husbands.[12]

Simeon was one of the strongest tribes during the wandering in the desert. Its symbol is that of a gate representing the city of Shechem.

Fate[edit]

Simeon is listed in the Book of Joshua,[15] elsewhere in the same Book these towns are ascribed to Judah;[12][16] some textual scholars view the Book of Joshua as being spliced together from several different source texts, in this particular case, the lists of towns being different documents, from different periods to each other.[17][18] This seeming contradiction can be explained in the following way. The tribe of Simeon, like Levi, was decreed to be scattered throughout as punishment for massacring Shechem. Levi was scattered throughout all of Israel whereas Simeon was scattered in towns only within Judah. The tribe seems to have dwindled in size, and the size of the tribe dramatically drops by over half between the two census recorded in the Book of Numbers; although the Bible places these census during the Exodus, textual scholars place them in the period of priestly source, roughly 700-600 BC.[19][20] The tribe is completely absent from the Blessing of Moses, which textual scholars date to near the time of theDeuteronomist, after the dates of these census;[20] some Septuagint manuscripts appear to have attempted to correct this, adding the name of Simeon to the latter half of verse 6, which scholars view as unwarranted based on the Hebrew manuscripts.[12]

In the Bible, the dwindling of Simeon is portrayed as being a divine punishment for their reaction to the Rape of Dinah, though many biblical scholars[who?] view the episode, and Dinah herself, as an etiological myth which developed to explain Simeon's misfortune, after it had occurred.[17] In the Blessing of Jacob, this punishment appears to be prophesied, with the tribe being predicted to become divided and scattered. Some textual scholars view this as a postdiction, believing that the Blessing of Jacob was written in a period around the 9th or 8th centuries (900-701 BC), the same period in which the tribe was actually dwindling.[20]

As part of the kingdom of Judah, whatever remained of Simeon was ultimately subjected to the Babylonian captivity; when the captivity ended, all remaining distinctions between Simeon and the other tribes in the kingdom of Judah had been lost in favour of a common identity as Jews. Nevertheless, an apocryphal midrash claims that the tribe was deported by the Babylonians to the Kingdom of Aksum (in what is now Ethiopia), to a place behind the dark mountains.[12] Conversely, Eldad ha-Dani argued that the tribe of Simeon had become quite powerful, taking tribute from 25 other kingdoms, some of which wereArabians; though he names their location, surviving versions of his manuscripts differ as to whether it was the land of the Khazars or of the Chaldeans (Chaldeans would be an anachronism, though it could possibly refer to Buyid Dynasty Persia). A few modern-day groups claim descent from the tribe of Simeon, with varying levels of academic and rabbinical support; some Christian Identity followers believe themselves to be descendants of the tribe.

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Simeon?"

Answer: Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from their father, Jacob, just before his death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Simeon, which was paired in the prophecy with the tribe of Levi, Jacob prophesied, “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” (Genesis 49:5–7).

Jacob pronounces a curse upon the anger of Simeon and Levi, no doubt remembering when they treacherously and barbarously destroyed the Shechemites, an act Jacob deeply resented for the barbarous way in which it was done and the reproach it brought upon his entire family (Genesis 34:24–30). Simeon’s anger was evil, not because indignation against sin is unwarranted, but because his wrath was marked by deeds of fierceness and cruelty. Righteous anger and indignation, the kind Jesus exhibited in cleansing the temple, for example, is never characterized by cruelty. The swords of Simeon, which should have been only weapons of defense, were weapons of violence to do wrong to others, not to save themselves from wrong.

Jacob’s pronouncement “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel” came true. The tribe of Simeon was the smallest and weakest of all the tribes at the close of their sojourn in the wilderness, as noted in the second census of Moses (Numbers 26:14), and the tribe of Simeon was omitted from the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy 33:8). Further, because of its size, the tribe of Simeon was forced to share territory with Judah, a larger and more powerful tribe (Joshua 19:1–9). Jacob did not cut the descendants of Simeon off from any part in the promised inheritance, but he did divide and scatter them.

As Christians, we learn from the tribe of Simeon that anger is the cause of a great deal of sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurts are multiplied (Proverbs 29:11). Anger leaves devastation in its wake, often with irreparable consequences. Furthermore, while anger against sin is not unwarranted, we ought always to be very careful to distinguish between the sinner and the sin, so as not to love or bless the sin for the sake of the person, nor to hate or curse the person for the sake of the sin.

Jacob’s statement “Let me not enter their counsel; let me not join their assembly” is a lesson for us as well. We are not to take the counsel of the angry man because he is unstable and exhibits an inability to control his passions. When anger is a defining trait in another’s life, it is an indication of the lack of self-control, which is a hallmark of believers (Galatians 5:22–23). An angry person makes a poor counselor, and, in fact, his company should be avoided, especially when the sin of anger is unconfessed and there is no attempt to deal with it in a godly manner.

Finally, Simeon and Levi appeared to be inseparable brothers who are always mentioned together in Scripture, an indication that, like many brothers and sisters, they may have “brought out the worst in each other.” Christian parents who see this type of relationship developing in siblings whose influence upon one another is unhealthy, would do well to consider separating them from one another in circumstances where their unfortunate tendency to spur one another to wrong may exert itself.

Tribe of Levi

In the Torah[edit]

In the Book of Numbers the Levites were charged with ministering to the Kohanim (priests) and keeping watch over the Tabernacle:

2 And with you bring your brother also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, that they may join you and minister to you while you and your sons with you are before the tent of the testimony.3 They shall keep guard over you and over the whole tent, but shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary or to the altar lest they, and you, die.4 They shall join you and keep guard over the tent of meeting for all the service of the tent, and no outsider shall come near you.5 And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel.6 And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel. They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting. Numbers 18:2-6 (ESV)

In the Prophets[edit]

The Book of Jeremiah speaks of a covenant with the Kohanim (priests) and Levites, connecting it with the covenant with the seed of King David:

As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David My servant, and the Levites that minister unto Me.

And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying:

'Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying: The two families which the LORD did choose, He hath cast them off? Jeremiah 33:22-24

The prophet Malachi also spoke of a covenant with Levi:

Know then that I have sent this commandment unto you, that My covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.

My covenant was with him of life and peace, and I gave them to him, and of fear, and he feared Me, and was afraid of My name.

The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and did turn many away from iniquity. Malachi 2:4-6

Malachi connected a purification of the "sons of Levi" with the coming of God's messenger:

Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to His temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in, behold, he cometh, saith the LORD of hosts.

But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap;

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver; and there shall be they that shall offer unto the LORD offerings in righteousness.Malachi 3:1-3

In Biblical criticism[edit]

The parts of the Torah attributed by advocates of the Documentary Hypothesis to the Elohist, seem to treat Levite as a descriptive attribute for someone particularly suited to the priesthood, rather than as the designator of a tribe and feel that Moses and Aaron are being portrayed as part of the Joseph group rather than being part of a tribe called Levi.[4] The Levites are not mentioned by the Song of Deborahconsidered one of the oldest passages of the Bible. Jahwist passages have more ambiguous language; traditionally interpreted as referring to a person named Levi they could also be interpreted as just referring to a social position titled levi.[5] In the Blessing of Jacob (later than the Song of Deborah), Levi is treated as a tribe, cursing them to become scattered; critics regard this as an aetiological postdiction to explain how a tribe could be so scattered, the simpler solution being that the priesthood was originally open to any tribe, but gradually became seen as a distinct tribe to themselves.[5][6] In the Priestly Sourceand Blessing of Moses, which critical scholars view as originating centuries later, the Levites are firmly established as a tribe, and the only tribe with the right to be priests.

 
Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Levi / the Levites?"

Answer: The patriarch Jacob, just before he died, gave each of his twelve sons a blessing. The twelve sons were the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessings contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Levi, which was paired in the prophecy with the tribe of Simeon, Jacob prophesied about him and his brother at the same time: “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” (Genesis 49:5–7). In addition to referring to the future of the tribe of Levi, the prophecy contains within it several lessons for all of us.

Jacob pronounced a curse upon Levi’s (and Simeon’s) anger partly due to their treacherous and violent destruction of the Shechemites (Genesis 34:24–30). Levi’s anger was evil because it was characterized by deeds of fierceness and cruelty. Righteous anger and indignation, the kind Jesus exhibited in cleansing the Temple, for example, is never characterized by cruelty. The swords of Levi, which should have been only weapons of defense, were weapons of violence, to do wrong to others, not to save themselves from wrong or to protect the innocent.

Jacob’s pronouncement, “I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” certainly came true. The tribe of Levi was scattered through Israel. But they became, by God’s grace and through their loyalty to God (Exodus 32:26–29), the priestly tribe and residents of the cities of refuge. They never possessed their own designated region, as the other tribes did, but Levi’s priestly office was certainly a privileged one.

As Christians, we learn from the tribe of Levi that unrestrained anger is the cause of a great deal of sin. Anger leaves devastation in its wake, often with irreparable consequences. Jacob’s statement “let me not enter their counsel; let me not join their assembly” is a lesson for us as well. We are not to take the counsel of angry people because they are unstable and exhibit an inability to control their passions. When anger is a defining trait, it is an indication of the lack of the spiritual gift of self-control that characterizes all believers (Galatians 5:22–23). An angry person makes a poor counselor, and, in fact, his company should be avoided, especially when the sin of anger is unconfessed and there is no attempt to deal with it in a godly manner.

Finally, the ultimate lesson in the tribe of Levi, for Christians, is that of restoration of the sinner to the privileged position of children of God. Through the high priestly intercession of Christ, who exchanged His righteousness for our sins on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21), we become a nation of priests in our own right. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Tribe of Gad

Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Gad the seventh son of Jacob, from whom it took its name. However, some Biblical scholars view this also as a postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[3] In the Biblical account, Gad is one of the two descendants of Zilpah, a handmaid of Jacob, the other descendant being Asher; scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Gad and Asher as being not of entirely Israelite origin (hence descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives).[4] In common with Asher is the possibility that the tribal name derives from a deity worshipped by the tribe, Gad being thought by scholars to be likely to have taken its name from Gad, the semitic god of fortune;[4]the name of Gad does not appear in the Song of Deborah, which scholars regard as one of the oldest parts of the Bible, pre-dating most of the Torah.[3]

Like Asher, Gad's geographic details are diverse and divergent,[4] with cities sometimes indicated as being part of Gad, and sometimes as part of other tribes,[5] and with inconsistent boundaries,[4][6] with Gileadsometimes including Gad[7] and sometimes not.[8] Furthermore, the Moabite Stone seemingly differentiates between the kingdom of Israel and the tribe of Gad, presenting Gad as predating Israel in the lands east of the Jordan,.[4] These details seems to indicate that Gad was originally a northwards-migrating nomadic tribe, at a time when the other tribes were quite settled in Canaan.[4]

In the biblical account, Gad's presence on the east of the Jordan is explained as a matter of the tribe desiring the land as soon as they saw it, before they had even crossed the Jordan under Joshua, and conquered Canaan. Classical rabbinical literature regards this selection of the other side by Gad as something for which they should be blamed, remarking that, as mentioned in Ecclesiastes, the full stomach of the rich denies them sleep.[4][9]

Fate[edit]

Though initially forming part of the Kingdom of Israel, from the biblical account it appears that under Uzziah and Jotham the tribe of Gad joined with the kingdom of Judah instead. Nevertheless, when Tiglath-pileser III annexed the kingdom of Israel in about 733-731 BC, Gad also fell victim to the actions of the Assyrians, and the tribe were exiled; in the Talmud, it is Gad, along with the tribe of Reuben, that are portrayed as being the first victims of this fate. The manner of the exile led to the further history of the tribe being lost, and according to the Book of Jeremiah, their former lands were (re)conquered by theAmmonites.[10] According to Simcha Jacobovici, a part of the tribe of Gad settled in southern Spain and the ancient name of the city of Cadiz was Gadir which means city of Gad and the people in Cadiz still call themselves Gaditanos which means Gadites. Simcha goes on to tell that Jesus visited a place in Spain known as the land of the Gadareans in ancient times. Simcha mentions that the word Gad which is Guad in Spanish is embedded all over the geography of southern Spain eg. Gadir, Guadalete, Guadalquivir, and Guadiana.[11] [12] As further proof you find written on the coat of arms of Cadiz, its latin name which is Gadium (the city of Gad).[13

 
Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Gad?"

Answer: Israel’s 12 tribes, of which Gad was one, were named for Jacob’s children (or grandchildren, in the cases of Ephraim and Manasseh). “Israel” was God’s name for Jacob (Genesis 32:22-30); therefore, the phrase “children of Israel” is a way of referring to Jacob’s descendants. Jacob’s son Gad was one of three children born in Paddan Aram to Jacob’s first wife’s maidservant, Zilpah (Genesis 35:26). When Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he said, “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels” (Genesis 49:19). Later, Moses blessed the tribe of Gad, saying, "Blessed is he who enlarges Gad's domain! Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at arm or head. 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" (Deuteronomy 33:20-21).

Mostly, what we learn from this tribe is that we are rewarded when we obey and honor God (Numbers 32:16-19). During the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua gave Gad the best of the new land because they obeyed God and punished Israel’s wicked enemies (Deuteronomy 32:20-21). Gad was one of the tribes especially dedicated in the fight to conquer the land as God commanded. 

The tribe of Gad was one of three (Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh were the others) to fight for and be awarded lands east of the Jordan River, the gateway to the Promised Land. (Joshua 12:6; 13:8-13). The Gadites fought valiantly for this land but did not stop there. They crossed the Jordan with the other tribes and assisted them in following God’s order to take the inheritance He provided. Gad could have stopped fighting once they had received their own dwelling place, but they did not: “We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance” (Numbers 32:18). The tribe demonstrated how we should not focus simply on our own needs and desires, but commit to the larger picture and promise that is God’s plan for us. Gad was obedient to God: “We your servants will do as our Lord commands” (Numbers 32:25b). 

Another lesson for us is that honoring God can present difficulties. After the tribes had settled into their lands, they were shocked to hear that Gad had built an altar in its territory across the Jordan. The other tribes took the altar to be a sign that the Gadites were breaking from the worship of God in Shiloh, and plans were made to attack Gad for its transgression. Prior to battle, however, a delegation went to Gad to learn more about its action and rebuke the tribe for its sin. The emissaries discovered that Gad had constructed the altar to honor God and to prevent the Jordan River, a significant geographical divide between Gad and the majority of the other tribes, from spiritually dividing God’s people (Joshua 22:10-34). “And the Reubenites and Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God” (Joshua 22:34). War was averted, but we are reminded that differences in how we choose to honor God may result in misunderstanding, discord and strife, even among believers.

Gad, along with all the other northern tribes of Israel, was sent into exile in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 15:29 – 17:41). Gad’s specific circumstances, triggered by the half-tribe of Manasseh’s unfaithfulness to God, are described in1 Chronicles 5:11-26.

Perhaps the most important lesson we learn from Gad (and all the other tribes) is to recognize the need for complete faith and trust in God. God commanded Moses to remind the Israelites to “carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9). “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison” (Deuteronomy 29:18).

 
Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Reuben, the first son of Jacob, and a son of Leah, from whom it took its name. However, Peake's commentary viewed this as a postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[4]

In the biblical account, Reuben is portrayed as having arrived east of the Jordan after leaving Egypt, but rather than taking land on the west of the Jordan, after conquering it under Joshua, instead took land on the east, as they owned a large number of cattle, and the territory seemed suitable for pasture. Israel Finkelstein et al., however, have claimed that lack of evidence for a systematic conquest or the abrupt appearance of a new culture indicates that the Israelites simply arose as a subculture within Canaanite society.[5] The territory of Reuben encapsulated the territory of the earlier kingdom of Sihon.

Character[edit]

According to the ancient Song of Deborah, Reuben declined to take part in the war against Sisera, the people instead idly resting among their flocks as if it were a time of peace, though the decision to do so was taken with a heavy heart.[6] According to the Book of Chronicles, during the reign of King Saul Reuben instigated a war with the Hagarites, and was victorious;[7]in another portion of the same text, Reuben is said to have been assisted in this war by Gad and the eastern half of Manasseh.[8] In the Blessing of Jacob, which some textual scholars date substantially later than these events,[9] the tribe is characterised as fickle - unstable as water, and condemned to dwindle in power and size due to the incest of their progenitor laying with Bilhah.[10]

Fate[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Reuben was conquered by the Assyrians, and the tribe exiled; the manner of their exile lead to their further history being lost.

Tribe of Reuben

 

Origin[edit]

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Reuben, the first son of Jacob, and a son of Leah, from whom it took its name. However, Peake's commentary viewed this as a postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[4]

In the biblical account, Reuben is portrayed as having arrived east of the Jordan after leaving Egypt, but rather than taking land on the west of the Jordan, after conquering it under Joshua, instead took land on the east, as they owned a large number of cattle, and the territory seemed suitable for pasture. Israel Finkelstein et al., however, have claimed that lack of evidence for a systematic conquest or the abrupt appearance of a new culture indicates that the Israelites simply arose as a subculture within Canaanite society.[5] The territory of Reuben encapsulated the territory of the earlier kingdom of Sihon.

Character[edit]

According to the ancient Song of Deborah, Reuben declined to take part in the war against Sisera, the people instead idly resting among their flocks as if it were a time of peace, though the decision to do so was taken with a heavy heart.[6] According to the Book of Chronicles, during the reign of King Saul Reuben instigated a war with the Hagarites, and was victorious;[7]in another portion of the same text, Reuben is said to have been assisted in this war by Gad and the eastern half of Manasseh.[8] In the Blessing of Jacob, which some textual scholars date substantially later than these events,[9] the tribe is characterised as fickle - unstable as water, and condemned to dwindle in power and size due to the incest of their progenitor laying with Bilhah.[10]

Fate[edit]

As part of the Kingdom of Israel, the territory of Reuben was conquered by the Assyrians, and the tribe exiled; the manner of their exile lead to their further history being lost.

 

Question: "What should we learn from the tribe of Reuben?"

Answer: Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from his father, Jacob, just before Jacob’s death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Reuben, Jacob prophesied, “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honor, excelling in power. Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel, for you went up onto your father's bed, onto my couch and defiled it” (Genesis 49:3–4). In addition to referring to the future of the tribe of Reuben, the prophecy contains within it several lessons for all of us.

Reuben, the firstborn of the twelve sons, was to Jacob his “might, the first sign of my strength” (Genesis 49:3), indicating that to him were all the rights and prerogatives of a firstborn son. At first, he excelled in honor and power, as is fitting the firstborn son, but Jacob declares that Reuben “will no longer excel” (verse 4) due to his sin of incest with Bilhah, his father’s concubine wife (Genesis 35:22). Although that sin was committed forty years prior, there was left an indelible spot on Reuben’s character and that of his posterity. By committing this uncleanness with his father’s wife, there would be reproach upon his tribe and the family, to whom he ought to have been an example and a blessing. He forfeited the prerogatives of the birthright, and his dying father demoted him, although he did not disown or disinherit him. He would still have all the privileges of a son, but not of the firstborn.

Jacob’s sad prophecy for Reuben certainly came true. No judge, prophet, ruler, or prince came from that tribe, nor any person of renown except Dathan and Abiram, who were noted for their rebellion against Moses. Reuben’s tribe chose a settlement on the other side Jordan, a further indication of the loss of godly influence on his brothers to which his birthright entitled him. Although Reuben was the firstborn, the kingdom was given to Judah and the priesthood to Levi, leaving Reuben’s tribe to be small and non-influential.

Further, Reuben was “unstable as water” (some versions translate it “turbulent as water”), and in this phrase we find several lessons for all Christians. For one thing, Reuben’s virtue was unstable; he did not have control of himself and his own appetites. The charge of instability could refer to his being sometimes very regular and orderly, while at other times wild and undisciplined. As Christians, we are to be in control of our flesh and its appetites and desires at all times. Most importantly, we are to be steadfast in our faith and not “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

We also learn from Reuben that those who dabble in sin must not expect to save their reputation or maintain a positive influence upon others. Although we know our sins were nailed to the cross and we are forever forgiven for past sins, we still have to suffer the consequences of those sins, which include remorse and a loss of reputation and influence. Reuben’s sin left an indelible mark upon him and his family. As Christians, we must understand that dishonor is a wound that will not be healed without a scar.