The 12 Tribes of Israel

12 Tribes website

“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt with Jacob; every man came with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah: Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin: Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls; and Joseph was in Egypt already.” (Exodus 1:1-5)
The Nation of Israel began as the twelve sons of Jacob. After leaving Egypt, the Children of Israel traveled and camped in a 4 sided formation according to tribes. By divine instruction, each tribe had its own flag and every three tribes camped as a unit, with the flag of the dominant tribe as the unit flag. At the center of this formation camped the Levites and the priests surrounding the Tabernacle at the center. The symbolism of the Israelite encampment is clear. Every person, family and tribe had a special place, if you will, a position, in this ideal society dictated by divine decree in the desert. The individualism of each person, his family and tribe was preserved while creating a common goal to serve God, represented by the Tabernacle at the center of the encampment.
When the Nation of Israel entered the land of Israel, the land was divided among the tribes according to regions. Judah and Simeon received land in the south, Reuben, Menashe and Gad received land on the eastern side of the Jordan river (today known as Jordan), Dan in the metropolitan Tel Aviv Jaffa area (known today as the Dan region) Benjamin and Efraim (Joseph) were just north of Judah and the city of Jerusalem, Menashe in the Shomron area, and Issachar, Zebulun, Asher and Naphtali in the Galilee. The tribe of Levi did not receive a region of land as the bible tells us in Deuteronomy (10:8-9):
“At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day. Wherefore Levi hath no portion nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God spoke unto him.”
The Levites were the spiritual leaders of the Nation of Israel and lived in cities within each tribal inheritance in order to inspire and give spiritual guidance. The other tribes, in turn, supported the Levites by giving them tithes from their crops and livestock.
When the Jewish people returned to their homeland thousands of years later, they began to rebuild and settle the land of old. They searched for names to express their exhilaration and gratitude, and to help them reconnect to the land of their ancestors. And they found those names in the scriptures.
On the ancient land of Judah the new settlers rebuilt, for example, the cities and towns of Kiryat Yearim (1950), Kisalon, Beit Shemesh and Kiryat Ekron (1948).
“And the border was drawn from the top of the mountain unto the fountain of the waters of Nephtoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron; and the border was drawn to Baalah–the same is Kiriath-jearim. And the border turned about from Baalah westward unto mount Seir, and passed along unto the side of mount Jearim on the north–the same is Chesalon–and went down to Beth-shemesh, and passed along by Timnah.” (Joshua 15:9)
In the region of Naphtali, the modern Nation of Israel established the towns of Hukok (1945), Hammat (Hammat Teveria), and Hazor Galilee.
As scripture tells us in Joshua 19:
And the border turned westward to Aznoth-tabor, and went out from thence to Hukok; and it reached to Zebulun on the south, and reached to Asher on the west, and to Judah at the Jordan toward the sunrising. And the fortified cities were Ziddim-zer, and Hammath, and Rakkath, and Chinnereth; and Adamah, and Ramah, and Hazor;
The list of kibbutzim, towns and cities named for places in scripture is extensive. Today, these names seem self-evident. It’s almost as though the names and places of the past hadn’t lain dormant and unused for thousands of years. These places are coming alive. Kibutzim such as Shaalvim, Dovrat, Sarid and Evron; cities such as Ashkelon, Bnei Braq, and Ashkelon; and regional councils such as Bnei Shimon (Simeon), Matteh Yehudah (Judah), Matteh Binyamin ( Benjamin), and Matteh Asher, have all returned to the map as if they’d never been erased. These places are alive and thriving, just as the Jewish People have returned and are once again thriving in their ancient homeland.
It’s as if they never left.

Published: July 16, 2015
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