Tanakh and Talmud
Israel
Old Testament

What were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel?

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2017-09-24 15:40:32
2017-09-24 15:40:32

The tribes Jacob blessed were

  1. Reuben (Re'uven, ראובן)
  2. Simeon (Shim'on, שמעון)
  3. Levi (Levi, לוי)
  4. Judah (Yehuda, יהודה)
  5. Issachar (Yisachar, יששכר)
  6. Zebulun (Zvulun, זבולון)
  7. Dan (Dan, דן)
  8. Naphtali (Naftali, נפתלי)
  9. Gad (Gad, גד)
  10. Asher (Asher, אשר)
  11. Joseph (Josef, יוסף)
  12. Benjamin. (Binyamin, בנימין)

Jacob elevated the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph and his Egyptian wife Asenat...Osnat in Modern Hebrew) to the status of full tribes in their own right, replacing the tribe of Joseph.

A: There are traditionally twelve Hebrew tribes recognised, representing each of the sons of Jacob or Israel. However, the names of the tribes vary somewhat through the Old Testament narrative, suggesting a more fluid tribal history than generally recognised.

Genesis 49 lists twelve tribes:

  1. Reuben
  2. Judah
  3. Levi
  4. Benjamin
  5. Joseph
  6. Zebulun
  7. Issachar
  8. Gad
  9. Dan
  10. Naphtali
  11. Asher
  12. Simeon

Deuteronomy 33 lists eleven tribes:

  1. Reuben
  2. Judah
  3. Levi
  4. Benjamin
  5. Joseph (with both Ephraim and Manasseh named)
  6. Zebulun
  7. Issachar
  8. Gad
  9. Dan
  10. Naphtali
  11. Asher.

The Song of Deborah (Judges 5:2-31), which honours those tribes of Israel that joined in battle against a Canaanite coalition and castigates those that held back, names ten tribes as:

  1. Reuben
  2. Benjamin
  3. Ephraim
  4. Manasseh
  5. Zebulon
  6. Issachar
  7. Dan
  8. Naphtali
  9. Asher
  10. Gilead, to which we should add Levi.

This list notably omits Judah, as well as Simeon and Gad, but has Gilead.

Either there were at different times more than twelve tribes, or biblical tradition was unsure of just what tribes existed in the earliest times of Hebrew history.

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2011-06-03 00:59:59
2011-06-03 00:59:59

The Torah states there were 12 tribes.

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