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The Thirteen Tribes of Israel

Discussion in 'Bible Chat' started by strongbeliever, Sep 9, 2007.

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  1. Greetings to all believers in Christ Jesus. I have not posted in quite a while. I hope that you find the following (a sermon I wrote) to be of edification.

    ( A sermon by brother Tarran Dookie)

    From the book of Genesis we learn that the patriarch Jacob, whose name God changed to Israel, had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. Gen. ch. 49 gives their names: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin.


    Ex. 32: 25-29 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.

    Deut. 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 part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
    See also Num. 3: 9-13.

    What caused the slaying of these 3000 men in the wilderness of Sinai? Moses had been in the mount for 40 days and 40 nights and the people despaired of his return. They persuaded Aaron to make a golden calf and they forsook God and worshipped this idol. This act of idolatry and abomination incurred the wrath of God and the people were struck with a plague (Ex. 32:35). But God was well pleased with the zeal of the sons of Levi as they responded to the call of Moses. How the children of God need to be zealous today and to have a holy anger and outrage at idolatry and abomination practised by many even who are called by His name. The tribe of Levi was given a special blessing by God.

    Levi was put in charge of the tabernacle of testimony. They were to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord and to stand before Him and minister to Him. They were not to be numbered with the rest of Israel. They were special to the Lord. The Lord Himself became their inheritance. Num. ch. 34 tells us that when the land of Canaan was to be allotted Levi was not included and they were just given some cities within the inheritance of the other tribes. The Lord was their inheritance. The spiritual blessing is always greater than the material. There is nothing wrong with asking God for specific things but to have God Himself is far greater than to have things from God. He who inherits God inherits all things.


    There are twelve tribes in Num. ch. 34 and they do not include Levi. Also in Num. ch. 1 twelve tribes are numbered but verses 49-50 tell us that Levi was not numbered among them. But if Levi is one of the twelve sons of Jacob that became twelve tribes, how do we still have twelve tribes when Levi is left out? Logically, there should be eleven tribes. But there are twelve tribes and if we include Levi it would be thirteen. How do we account for twelve tribes without Levi?

    Gen. 48: 5,22 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.....Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

    Ezek. 47: 13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This shall be the border, whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions.

    Joseph was envied by his brothers. He was sold into Egypt as a slave. He fled from adultery and was thrown into prison for it. But he maintained his integrity and God kept him and the dreams of the dreamer were fulfilled. He became the deliverer of Israel in the time of famine and was eventually restored to his father and brothers. His father Jacob blessed him and gave him one portion above his brethren. Joseph became two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. (Sometimes Ephraim is called Joseph.) Do you yearn for a double portion of God's blessing? You must have the sincerity, faithfulness and integrity of Joseph. Let us be willing to pay the price as he paid it. Let us flee from sin regardless of the consequences. God will not forsake us. He will watch over us and all things shall work together for good to those that love God.


    When Levi is not listed among the twelve tribes as in Num. ch. 1 and ch. 34 we have Ephraim (or Joseph) and Manasseh. When Levi is included as in Deut. ch. 33, 1 Chron. 2: 1-2 or Ezek. 48:30-34, Joseph is counted as one. This is the normal position. But let us turn our attention to something in the word of God that may make us understand that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    Judg. 18: 30-31 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of captivity of the land. And they set them up Micah's graven image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.

    The book of Judges chapters 17 to 18 give the account of Micah's graven image. The man Micah from mount Ephraim had a graven image and a house of gods. In course of time a Levite joined himself to Micah and became his personal priest. The tribe of Dan seeking their inheritance came upon the house of Micah and discovered the graven image and the Levite. They seized the image and the things Micah had made and the Levite also went with them to settle in Laish and become their priest.

    Let us recognise that this idolatry was not short-lived. It was not even a few years. No, it lasted many years even until the time of the captivity in Babylon. This image was worshipped by the tribe of Dan all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh. Dan was so far removed from the rest of the children of Israel that in the first book of Chronicles chs. 1 to 8 where the genealogies of the tribes are given, the genealogy of the tribe of Dan is not recorded.

    Our God is a jealous God. He greatly abhors idolatry among His children. Today we may say that we have no graven images and that we are okay. But it is not as simplistic as that. The idols of our heart are just as abominable as the graven images. Attachment to material possessions, loving someone more than God, preoccupation with sports, hobbies, careers, or any pursuit or activity that detracts us from God may all be situations of idolatry. Rev.ch. 22 v. 15 tells us that idolaters shall not enter the city of God.

    Rev. 7: 4-8 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

    Here we have 12,000 from each of twelve tribes of Israel given the seal of God. Verses 1-3 of the same chapter indicate that these are protected during the tribulation period. Levi is included among the tribes and we would have expected to see Joseph as one tribe. But we have both Joseph and Manasseh. Do we see how serious this matter of idolatry is? God did not forget about Dan's idolatry. The awesome reality is that Dan is excluded. If we do not want to be excluded by God we must give up every trace of idolatry in our lives and worship and serve the living God in whom we live and move and have our being. Praise be unto Him. Amen.

    (brother tarran dookie)

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