Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mysteries of the Tribes of Israel

Numbers 1

I’ve heard of the “lost tribes” of Israel, and so I’m staying alert as to when those tribes go missing. But, meanwhile, we seem to have now gained a tribe. While the 12 male descendants of Jacob were listed in Genesis 35:22 as: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Daphtali, Gad, and Asher, at the beginning of Numbers (1:5-15), the 12 tribes are listed as: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim (a son of Joseph), Manasseh (another son of Joseph), Benjamin, Dan, Asher, Gad, and Naphtali. The changes include the omission here of Levi, and the breaking down of the descendants of Joseph into two separate lines tracing from Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh. If we add back the Levites (the priestly tribe), there are now 13!

So, I will stay alert as I continue to read about when the "lost tribes" go missing, and which ones they turn out to be!


  1. They go missing much later when the Assyrians conquer Israel (ie the Northern fragment of what was supposed to have been David's kingdom, Judea being the fragment around Jerusalem that remains independent another 100 years or so before the Babylonians conquer them.) The Assyrians have a policy of shuffling conquered people about to impede them making successful revolts (while the Babylonians simply move the leaders of Judea off to Babylon, not a wise decision as their leaders probably helped the Persians conquer Babylon, in return for permission to later return to Jerusalem & rule as vassals of the Persian Empire.)

  2. Check the list of the 12 tribes in the book of Revelation.