Perhaps this is old news to some, but I was reading about the allotment of land amongst the twelve tribes – all of which I thought were named after the sons of Jacob. But guess what? Two of the tribes are NOT named after his sons. I don’t think I ever noticed that before.
In Genesis 35:23-26, we find the names of Jacob’s sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher – twelve in all.
Beginning in Joshua 13 and ending in Joshua 19, we find the distribution of land to these twelve tribes – Reuben, Gad, Judah, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan – again, twelve in all.
We know that the Levites were not given an inheritance of land as priests (Joshua 13:14). But the one tribe you never hear about is the tribe of Joseph – who was Jacob’s favorite son. Why is there no tribe of Joseph? See this:
“Now these are the areas the Israelites received as an inheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. Their inheritances were assigned by lot to the nine-and-a-half tribes, as the LORD had commanded through Moses. Moses had granted the two-and-a-half tribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levites an inheritance among the rest, for the sons of Joseph had become two tribes—Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land but only towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. So the Israelites divided the land, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” — Joshua 14:1-5
It has gone unnoticed by me that the tribe of Joseph is curiously missing (except for a reference in Joshua 17:14). In its place, two tribes were created and were named after Joseph’s first two sons. With the removal of Levi and Joseph as tribe names, and the addition of Ephraim and Manasseh, the number of tribes is back to twelve.
Thus, ten tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s sons and two are named after his grandsons!