tribes of Israel


tribes of Israel
The nation of Israel was divided into twelve [[➝ Twelve, the]] tribes, recognizably related but each having a specific character dependent on its experience of migration, war, and economic fortunes. In the tradition all the tribes were in Egypt and all came out at the Exodus [[➝ Exodus, the]] (Gen. 49), though it is possible that in fact certain tribes were not in Egypt at all. Many modern scholars are sceptical about the antiquity of the tribal system itself and hold that the tribal names refer to the geographical areas where they lived, without any necessary family linkage. In their own traditions, the tribes traced their corporate existence to the eponymous ancestor Jacob or Israel (Gen. 32:28; 35:10). Six tribes were regarded as descended from Jacob's wife Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Two tribes came from Rachel: Joseph (subdivided into Ephraim and Manasseh) and Benjamin. On the fringe of these tribes were those alleged to be descendants of the concubines Zilpah (Gad and Asher) and Bilhah (Dan and Naphtali).
The twelve tribes are not identical in each of the OT lists: Levi is omitted in Num. 1:20–43 and 26:5–50, but the total of twelve is maintained by regarding Ephraim and Manasseh as separate tribes. Levi possessed no land but members of the tribe were distributed amongst the others. In 722 BCE the northern tribes (called Ephraim or Israel) were taken to Assyria; the southern tribes (called Judah) were exiled to Babylon in the 6th cent.
After the Exile tribal distinctions were lost, but the number twelve retained a symbolic importance: the NT Church claims to be the successor of the Jews by the use of the number twelve—the twelve apostles will judge the twelve tribes (Matt. 19:28). James addressed Christians as the twelve tribes in the dispersion (Jas. 1:1); and just as in the OT lists there is a certain discrepancy so that by combining them there become thirteen tribes, so the lists of the apostles as given in the four gospels and the Acts are not identical and could be made into thirteen names.

Dictionary of the Bible.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tribes of Israel — noun twelve kin groups of ancient Israel each traditionally descended from one of the twelve sons of Jacob • Syn: ↑Twelve Tribes of Israel • Hypernyms: ↑kin, ↑kin group, ↑kinship group, ↑kindred, ↑clan, ↑tribe …   Useful english dictionary

  • Twelve Tribes of Israel —       in the Bible, the Hebrew people who, after the death of Moses, took possession of the Promised Land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Because the tribes were named after sons or grandsons of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel… …   Universalium

  • Kashmiri descent from lost tribes of Israel — It has been claimed by some sources that the Kashmiri people are descendants of the twelve lost tribes of Israel. Rabbi Marvin Tokayer claims that the Kashmiri people are originally of Jewish descent, a claim that he backs up with drawing… …   Wikipedia

  • Twelve Tribes of Israel — noun twelve kin groups of ancient Israel each traditionally descended from one of the twelve sons of Jacob • Syn: ↑Tribes of Israel • Hypernyms: ↑kin, ↑kin group, ↑kinship group, ↑kindred, ↑clan, ↑tribe …   Useful english dictionary

  • Twelve Tribes of Israel — the twelve tribes of Israel, twelve tribes of Israelites descended from Jacob s twelve sons …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Leaders of the tribes of Israel — The Torah gives several lists of leaders of the tribes of Israel. First list The first, and main, list, appears in . It lists the leaders who supervised the first census of the Israelites, and who led them during their travels in the wilderness.… …   Wikipedia

  • Ten Lost Tribes of Israel —       10 of the original 12 Hebrew tribes, which, under the leadership of Joshua, took possession of Canaan, the Promised Land, after the death of Moses. They were named Asher, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and… …   Universalium

  • Ten Tribes of Israel —  Десять Колен Израилевых …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • Ten Lost Tribes of Israel — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Israel —     Israelites     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Israelites     The word designates the descendants of the Patriarch Jacob, or Israel. It corresponds to the Hebrew appellation children of Israel , a name by which together with the simple form Israel… …   Catholic encyclopedia


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