Read Chapters 4-8
Q: Who is this a genealogy of?
Q: This is NOT a trick question: How many tribes are there?
A; There are at least 13, and it’s possible from a certain perspective to identify 14. The reason there can be 13 is that Levi is often not listed as it belongs to the Lord rather than the nation. It was the only tribe not given a specific portion of the land but provided cities and land among all the other tribes. There can technically be as many as 14 because Joseph is often interchangeable with either of his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Sometimes Joseph alone is mentioned, which includes both his sons, and sometimes they are split out for different reasons.
Q: Therefore, which tribes are listed in THIS genealogy? Which are missing?
A: To be accurate, there are 2 listings in chapters 2-8 and a third listing in 1 Chronicles 12. They are:
- 1 Chronicles 2: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Neither Ephraim nor Manasseh are specifically mentioned as they are assumed to be included under Joseph.
- 1 Chronicles 2-8: Judah, Simeon, Reuben, Gad, Levi, Issachar, Benjamin, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Asher. Not mentioned are Dan and Zebulun. This shows the difference in how the land was eventually apportioned as opposed to who was strictly born to whom. Perhaps there’s a lesson here about obedience, spiritual sonship and spiritual inheritance?
- 1 Chronicles 12: Judah, Simeon, Levi, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Dan, Asher, Reuben, and Gad. Here they are described as “divisions equipped for war” and that is why both Ephraim and Manasseh show in place of Joseph. Note that there are a total of 13 tribes listed
Q: Which tribes comprised the northern kingdom of Israel and were carried away into captivity by Assyria, and which were the southern kingdom of Judah that were carried away to Babylon? What is missing and why?
A: The northern kingdom (everyone except Judah and Benjamin) were carried away to Assyria nearly 300 years before the 2 tribes of the southern kingdom. What is missing, however, is Levi. In reality, they lived among all the tribes, but would have been more greatly concentrated in and around Jerusalem in Judah because of the temple.
Q: If 10-1/2 tribes were carried off by Assyria and have not clearly been shown to have returned from exile, how is it possible that all of the tribes exist from that point on?
A: Those that remained faithful in their relationship with God understood the need to maintain contact with Jerusalem and His temple in order to be fully compliant with the Law. Scripture is clear that Believers from ALL tribes migrated south and lived amongst a nation PREDOMINANTLY composed of Judah and Benjamin, NOT exclusively. When “Judah” was carried away, ALL the tribes were essentially carried away and likewise returned.
Q: Why does Dan disappear from the list?
A: Dan was originally assigned land in the south. Unwilling to follow God’s command and root out the enemies in the area, they sought what they thought would be a better place for themselves and migrated to the very northern tip of Israel. It’s evident from the biblical account that along the path of their migration they introduced idolatry to the other tribes and established a center of false worship in their new land. They were the first tribe conquered by Assyria, and in the listing of the 144,000 sealed from the 12 tribes in Revelation 7, they are conspicuously absent, most likely destroyed for their sin.
It’s interesting to note that 1 of Jesus’ 12 disciples—Judas—became an instrument of Satan and was both destroyed and replaced. The genealogies continually reinforce that nothing guarantees a continued relationship with the Lord except a right heart.
Q: So is there actually a “13th Tribe” or “Lost Tribe” of Israel?
A: No. Scripture clearly accounts for everyone. What there has been as in the case of Dan is God’s working.