Notes on the Tribes of Israel

The amount of genealogical information given for the tribes varies greatly. The three tribes of Levi (the priestly tribe), Judah (the kingly tribe), and Benjamin (the tribe of King Saul, and the associate tribe with Judah in the kingdom of Judah) have far more detail than any of the others.


Only three generations are definitely linked to Reuben in his tribe. There is a longer chain starting with Joel, but I cannot connect Joel and Reuben except that he belongs to the tribe. There are also two short chains and two individuals that I am able to list in the tribe. There are also two short chains and two individuals that I am able to list in the tribe. They are all shown in table 9.


Though six sons are listed for Simeon, for none of these are children listed. Shaul is to be noted in that he is plainly listed as the son of a Canaanite woman, but her name is not stated. The people listed in generation 28 (in table 10) are NOT all brothers. They are individuals who are known to belong to the tribe, but their ancestral links are not stated.


This tribe has many long chains, Even where the linkage is not known the connection is to one of the families within the tribe, thus "uncertain links" are found in many places. It is of course possible that where the record lists son it may be grandson, but no one appears in the record without a link back to Levi himself. See Table 11.

There is an interesting pair of names in this tribe; Amashai and Ahimoth Mahath. They are listed as brothers in one record and as father and son in another. I have marked them by placing a v after the one who is called the father in one record and a ^ after the name of the person listed as the son in one place and brother in the other. Judah

This tribe has more detail that any other. Firstly it is noted that the main tribal genealogy comes through Tamar rather than through Judah's third and legitimate son (his first two son's died by acts of God). Tamar had been the wife of the first son, then the second one, and finally she tricked Judah into giving her a son Perez. Judah recognised the justice of her act and had a second son by her, Zerah, from whose descendants the infamous Achan of Jericho came.

There are some interesting people whose parents are shown as "desc. Of ..." in this tribe. One is that of Caleb the faithful spy. Another is that of the husband of Naomi, and step-father of Ruth (the line through Boaz, Ruth's second husband is clear, though probably abbreviated). All names in the 28th generation towards the end of table 12 are not brothers but people whose link back to Judah is not recordsed, though it is know they belong to this tribe.

There are two names here with a star in front of their names (see Keilah and Eshtemoa). In both cases Hodiah was father of their fathers, though their fathers are not known.

Table 13 shows the descendants of David (of the tribe of Judah, to the captivity, including some of the tribe of Judah who are not descendants of David. Many of the sons of David are listed at the end of the list. for an explanation of the daughter of Neri in generation 56 see the page on the genealogy of Jesus.

Table 14 lists the descendants of Jehoiachin, the last but one king of Judah. The first nine generations of this table from after the capitivity are listed in the book of Chronicles, but the remaining generations, in two lines, are taken from the New Testament genealogies of Christ. There is a discrepancy in the generation number of Jehoiachin here. His father, Rehaboam, being a grandson of David is listed as generation 38. His mother being a great granddaughter of David is in Generation 39. In table 13 the generation count is taken from that of his father, wheras in table 14 I have dropped to the count as from his mother.


Again we have only a few names for this tribe, and there are four short chains which are not linked back to Issachar, though they are listed as belonging to the tribe. See Table 15.


For Zebulun we know only three sons, and the spy with his father, and the person who represented the tribe at the division of Canaan with his father. See Table 16.


This is one of the two tribes of Joseph, and we have a limited amount of information. An important group of daughters is mentioned several times in scripture. These are the daughters of Zelophehad, listed toward the start of table 17. There are also a group of people who are listed as children of "desc. Of Manasseh" - again they are not brothers, but their true links are not know.


Four of his sons are listed in table 18, together with the descendants of two of them. There are also members of the tribe whose links are not known. One of these is known for his more famous wife, the judge Deborah. Another is the first norther king, Jereboam.


Many people are known for this tribe, however the connecting links are often not known. Benjamin's sons are listed in four places as explained in the section on the Exodus, and since the lists vary there are fourteen sons listed to him. Then again we have a lot of people listed who are known to be in the tribe, but whose links are not known. The most famous of these is the first king of Israel Saul. See Table 19.


Only a few descendants are known for Dan. Only two sons are known. Then there are four father-son combinations, that fit in the tribe; the first is a workman at the temple with his father; the next is the spy and his father; then the representative at the division of the land, and the last is the strong man Samson. See Table 20.


Again very few descendants. Four sons, and three father-son combinations - the spy, the divider of the land, and the warrior who served the judge Deborah. See Table 21.


A few more members of this tribe are know, but again they comprises the actual sons of Gad plus people whose connection to the tribe are not documented. I have a note on Buz that it is probably taht many of the other names in generation 28 here were actually contemporaneous with the sons of Abihail in generation 35. See Table 22.


A few more members in this tribe, but still many people who are in the tribe, but whose connections are not documented. Again the people listed as sons of "desc. of Asher" are probably not contemporaneous. See Table 23.

A lesson from these lists

After my first paper draft of this section, I was discussing it with a principal of a Christian school as we were driving to the school. I commented that there were full lists of the two tribes that comprised the southern kingdom of Judah, and of the priestly tribe of the Levites, but that little was given on the ten tribes which comprised the Northen breakaway kingdom of Israel. Both nations turned their backs on God, but the apostasy was far worse in the northern kingdom, and they went into captivity first and were lost to the Bible record.

She commented that there is a lesson there, as to what happens to those who individually or collectively turn their back on God, and reject his guidance. Of all the tribes (13 actually because Joseph was counted as two tribes in Manasseh and Ephraim) only a remnant of three came back from the Babylonian captivity.

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