Home / Apostles / Names / Generations / 3Feasts / Fig. of Speech / Rock of Ages  

AKA:  Children of Israel, Hebrews, Circumcision, Seed(s) of Abraham, Sons of Jacob

The 12 Tribes of Israel




In the order of their birth, beginning in Genesis 29:32, these are the original twelve sons of Jacob -- the namesakes of the twelve families who went down into Egypt and became known as the Twelve (12) Tribes of Israel. Jacob was given the other name of "Israel" after wrestling that epiphany in Gen32:28.

The twelve boys had one sister, Dinah, born after Zebulun and just prior to Joseph: Gen30:21.

Reuben lost out on the firstborn birthright reward and it was given to Joseph instead. 1Chr5:1.

It took four women to produce the 13 children sired by Jacob.

It was Leah who was the most fruitful; producing six sons and Dinah.

Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah, produced Dan and Naphtali.

Leah's handmaid, Zilpah, produced Gad and Asher.

Jacob's first intended, Rachel, was barren all the while those first ten siblings were being born, but following Zebulun's birth she gave birth to her firstborn, Joseph, and afterwards died near Bethlehem giving birth to Benjamin.

But what about the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, you ask?

Those were the two sons of Joseph, by his Egyptian wife Asenath, who were integrated, or adopted, into Israel in Joseph's place. Effectively there were then fourteen "tribes" (by name), but only thirteen groups of families.

People ask about the 13th Tribe, but there is none. Perhaps they're thinking of the Tribe of Joseph which morphed into the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim.

Six of the tribes were charged to stand upon Mount Gerizim -- Mountain of Blessing, Deut27:12

Simeon - Levi - Judah - Issachar - Joseph - Benjamin

Six of the tribes were charged to stand upon Mount Ebal -- Mountain of Cursing. Deut27:13

Reuben - Gad - Asher - Zebulun - Dan - Naphtali

So which mountain would you prefer to be thrown into the sea?

'Making mountains out of molehills' is a common figure of speech applied to persons who build a small issue or irritation into a major issue.. The 'mountains' apply to poor thinking!


And the Lord spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying:

"Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of his father's house..." Numbers 2:2

Judah (186,400) would pitch camp on the East, and would go FIRST in breaking camp. With him would be the tribes of Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400).

Reuben (46,500) would pitch camp on the South, with Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650). This camp (151,450) would go in the second rank: Num2:16.

Ephraim (40,500) would pitch on the West, with Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400). This camp (108,100) would go in the third rank.

Dan (62,700) would pitch on the North, with Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400). This camp numbered 157,600, bringing the total of the four camps to 603,550.

The Levites would be located in the center (middle) of the four camps and were NOT to be numbered. Num2:17,33.

The camp may have included 111,800 Levites, and perhaps others as well. No details of the flags are given in scripture, but some teach they may be as the four faces in Ezekiel 1:10, the lion, ox, man, and eagle; while others say the twelve tribes may have flown flags representing the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

About four(4) faces:  Judah began as one individual who grew to become a family and Tribe of Judah, and then the Southern Kingdom, and finally came to represent the entire Jewish religion and nation.

The number "12" fits a pattern of entirety: tribes, zodiac(Heb.mazzaroth)
clock: 24 too, but Jesus asked "Are there not 12 hours in the day?" Jn11:9
12 stones(Josh4:8), 12 apostles, 12 moons, 12 gates(Rev21:21).

The 'Dukes of Edom' in the genealogy of Esau are a study in contrast to the Tribes of Jacob.
Duke Amalek, Timnah, Aliah, Jetheth, Aholibamah, Elah, Pinon, Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, Magdiel, and Iram, are the beginning of Arab nations. 1Chr1:51, Gen36:40

A Divided Kingdom: 10:2

The first three kings of Israel (Saul, David, Solomon) reigned over ALL the tribes, but after Solomon's reign their kingdom divided: ten of the tribes went North as the Kingdom of Israel, and two of the tribes, Judah and Benjamin, went South as the Kingdom of Judah.

Eventually the ten tribes of Israel were defeated by Assyria and carried into all the world, and the Judean Kingdom was carried away to Babylon for 70 years as prophesied by Jeremiah 29:10/Dan9:2.

Reuben - means "Seeing".   Mother: Leah.
He lost the firstborn birthright by sleeping with his father's wife.
Simeon - means "Hearing"  2nd born of Leah.
He was left as hostage in Egypt when the brothers went back to Canaan with orders to return with Benjamin.
Levi - means "Joined".   3rd born of Leah.
This was the priestly line--only Levites were permitted to be priests and even then they weren't allowed any physical blemishes. Levi had a son Kohath who had a son Amram, the father of Moses, so these may be the "four generations" spoken of in Gen15:16.
Judah - means "Praise"   4th born of Leah.
His was the line that proceeded to the House of David and to Jesus. He acknowledged Tamar (means "Palm") was more righteous than himself. Gen38:26.   His 5 sons may be a contrast to the 5 daughters of Zelophehad.   Click for more..More.

Dan - "God is judge". 1st born of Bilhah. Type of Judas or the anti-christ? Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path.." Gen49:17, also Amos8:14. Missing from the Rev 144,000. (This was Samson's tribe).
Naphtali - means "Wrestling"   2nd born of Bilhah, a 'hind' too
Wrestling was what Jacob did prior to receiving the new name of Israel. It's a word used uniquely in Eph6 re the Armor of God.

Gad - means "A troop comes".   1st born of Zilpah.
The blessing of Moses, Deut33:20 KJV, says of Gad "he dwells as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head".
Asher - means "Blessed"   2nd born of Zilpah.
The blessing of Moses said of him: "...Let him dip his foot in oil".

Issachar - means "Wages".   5th born of Leah.
Zebulun - means "Dwelling with husband"   6th born of Leah.
Spelled Zabulon, with an a and o, in Matthew and Revelation, and the tribe called "Zebulonites" in Judg12:12

Joseph - means "The Lord will add a son".   1st born of Rachel.
This Godly man is a figure (type) of Christ, and his coat of many colors was a precept of how Jesus had his vesture dipped in blood as saviour to all colors and races of men. This Joseph was not in the father-son trail to Jesus.
Benjamin - means "Son of the right hand"   2nd born of Rachel.
Responsible for dismembering a body into twelve pieces, Judges 19:29. Now the church is described as a body with many members in 1Cor12:13, and we see Jesus is the REAL son of the right hand.

Manasseh - means "To forget my toil and my father's house".   1st born son of Joseph. This was Gideon's tribe.
A type of "the Jew first", Rom2:9,10. Known as 'half-tribe' because their inheritance was on either(both) side(s) of Jordan. Num32:33.
Ephraim - means "Fruitful"   2nd son of Joseph.
A type of "and then the Gentile" Rom1:16. The ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom were also known as "Ephraim". Isa7:8. This was Samuel's tribe.   Hosea 11:1-3 refers to a "son called out of Egypt".

The 7th chapter of the Book of Revelation lists the 12,000 each of the twelve tribes of: Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, Benjamin. Some spelling is different, and note that both Joseph and Manasses are included, but NOT Dan and Ephraim.

Let's get real!

Cast off those religious spirits, and see the Truth for what it is -- The Word of God -- A primer for language expression and right-thinking by intelligent design, as well as principles for preachers, and an Instruction Manual from the Creator of Life!

Exodus 28:21 speaks of the "precious" twelve stones, representing each of the twelve tribes.

Sardius,topaz,carbuncle / emerald,sapphire,diamond

ligure,agate,amethyst / beryl,onyx,jasper

Grouped in a 6-6 configuration on the High Priest's breastplate, and spelled out in four rows of three. KJV spelling.

Note: The RUBY isn't spoken of here--leaving that precious jewel to be explained in the final twenty-two (22) verses of Proverbs.
Chin-up, ladies, your day is coming!

Revelation 21:19 lists the twelve foundations of New Jerusalem, and the gems aren't all the same or in the same order as in Exodus, but let us remember how spelling in Greek differs from Hebrew which reads from right to left, and omits vowels.

Jasper,sapphire,chalcedony / emerald,sardonyx,sardius

chrysolite,beryl,topaz / chrysoprasus,jacinth,amethyst


  We note that the emerald is the only gem in the same relative position, but still listed are the jasper, sapphire, sardius, beryl, topaz, and amethyst. The jasper,"clear as crystal" Rev21:11, is thought by some to be a diamond (With a new name?) but both of them are included in the Ezekiel list.

"Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering: the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle...
and gold. The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes were prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created." Ezek 28:13

Pearls of Wisdom.

The principal thing, according to Prov4:7. The pearl is another precious gem which is named in Scripture, but doesn't represent just one of the twelve tribes. It's different from a geologic stone, and Jesus spoke of not casting your pearls to the swine, Mt7:6.

Which is why I'm convinced the Revelation pearls, which were also the 12 gates, is speaking of "Pearls of Wisdom". Figuratively it's the pearl necklace which represents ALL twelve of the tribes, rather than just one. Rev21:21. It's the Figure of Speech 'synecdoche'.

Joshua 4:8 speaks plainly of the twelve stones taken from the River Jordan: one stone for each tribe, adding up to one memorial. Clearly, the Holy Ghostwriter is giving us precepts for the symbolical truth of how we are "lively stones", 1Pet2:5, and how God and Jesus can be spoken of as "Rocks" or a "cornerstone".

So when we speak of someone who is a "chip off the old block", we can see how it applies to Christians who are "In Christ", Col 1:27, as well as sons who do what they see their Father do. John8:28

"Ye also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ". 1Pet2:5

JEWEL THIEF! We know how the Bible tells us Jesus will be returning "as a thief in the night", and of how the Book of Malachi 3:17 says "they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him". So don't we all want to be vessels of honor or precious stones in His sight?

The INHERITANCE followed...

Nine of the Tribes inherited land on the west side of Jordan: Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Benjamin, and Ephraim; plus half the tribe of Manasseh. Josh13:7.

The Tribes of Reuben and Gad (aka Gilead), plus half of Manasseh, took their inheritance from the east side of Jordan. The Tribe of Levi received no inheritance: "the LORD God of Israel was their inheritance.." Josh13:33.

We don't see the Tribe of Joseph here, because he received the double-portion (instead of Reuben), and so his two sons, Manasseh & Ephraim, were made 'tribes' in his stead. 1Chr5:1.

The "inheritance" is spoken of about twenty times in the New Testament:  "To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you".1Pet1:4

Jacob's Blessing to his Sons, Gen49(KJV)

Gen49:28 - "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing". The prophecy, he told them, was for "the last days". Gen49:1.
Reuben - "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power;   Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defilest thou it: he went up to my couch".

Simeon & Levi - "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitation.   O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall.
Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel; I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel".

Judah - "Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise. Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee.
Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.
His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.".

Zebulun - "Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon".

Issachar - "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".

Dan - "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horses heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.   I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD."

Gad - "A troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last."            

Asher - "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties."

Naphtali - "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words."                        

Joseph - "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren."

Benjamin - "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil."

Gen49:28 - "All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them, and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them".

SPIES!   When Joseph's ten brothers journeyed to Egypt in search of bread, Joseph pretended not to know them, and accused them of being spies. Now today in the 21st century we become "spies" whenever we read and examine the Bible in search of Truth (God's Bread).

Return to
Table of Contents

Christian Prayer / Names / 12 Apostles / Solomon's Temple