Tribes Of Israel

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Tribes Of Israel

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Post by DavidLeon »

Thirteen Tribes Of Israel (Genesis Chapter 49)

The twelve tribes of Israel were based on the descent from the twelve sons of Jacob, also known as Israel. They were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Jacob, however, blessed Joseph's two sons; the elder Manasseh and the younger Ephraim. (Genesis 48:5, 13-20) Since the tribe of Levi didn't have a land inheritance, but rather portions within the territories of each tribe and didn't register for the army they were not always considered in addition to the 12. Since Joseph died in Egypt before the exodus it only follows that he had no land inheritance. All of this explains why Manasseh wasn't listed at Genesis 49. The chapter is really more about the blessings of Jacob to his 12 sons than a formal listing of the 12 tribes. The "tribe" of Joseph is officially separated into the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim at Numbers 10:14-28.

Army Registration (Numbers Chapter 1)

Numbers chapter 1 gives the details of an army registration, and since the priestly tribe of Levi were not registered as such the tribe of Levi was not mentioned.

Spies Of Israel (Numbers Chapter 13)

Numbers chapter 13 gives the account of 2 chieftains of each of the 12 tribes of Israel, excluding the tribe of Levi being selected for a reconnaissance mission into the land of Canaan. The Levites being excluded due to their priestly duties. Of the 12 tribes, 10 of them return with faithless and cowardly reports, causing the people to fear going into the land. Joshua (then known as Hoshea, Oshea - KJV) from the tribe of Ephraim and Caleb from the tribe of Judah gave favorable reports. Note that the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh are tribes representing Joseph who is not actually listed as a tribe in and of itself.

Moses Blessing (Deuteronomy Chapter 33)

When Moses blessed the tribes Simeon was not named. Probably because as a tribe it was much smaller in size as well as its land was enclosed in the territory of Judah.

Ezekiel's Vision (Ezekiel Chapter 48)

The list of tribes in Ezekiel's vision of the holy contribution is the same as the list given in the land inheritance of Joshua mentioned above.

Land Inheritance (Joshua 13-19)

Upon coming to the Promised Land Joseph wasn't represented by a tribe, but instead his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim were counted as tribes. This didn't result in there being 13 tribes, as such, because the priestly tribe of Levi received no land inheritance nor did they register for the army. (Numbers 1:49 / Deuteronomy 18:1) The listing here is the same as Ezekiel's above.

The Spiritual Israel (Revelation Chapter 7)

The number 12 represents organizational completeness. As can be seen with the 12 apostles as well as the 12 tribes of Israel, natural and spiritual. The list of tribes listed in revelation were not the natural tribes of Israel, as Hosea had foretold, and Paul confirmed. (Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:24-25) The spiritual Israel which Paul referred to as Israel of God at Galatians 6:15-16.

By the time John had written the book of Revelation the tribal records had long been destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem, not to mention natural Israel had rejected the Lamb of God who John now envisioned standing on heavenly Mount Zion with the spiritual Israel - the 144,000. (Revelation 7:4; 14:1, 4) 12 tribes of 12,000 each.

Since Rueben had lost his right as firstborn (Genesis 49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2) and Joseph received that privilege, an extra portion of Israel was given him. (Genesis 48:21-22) Thus Joseph was represented by two familial portions in the spiritual tribe of Israel. Where Levi was often excluded due to priestly duty, he is now included, though the spiritual Israel differs from the natural in that all are a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) Through no fault of Dan he is simply not included in order to maintain the symbolic importance of the number 12, signifying organizational completeness.
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