A Brief History of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his Sons
Israel's history is one of the most detailed and well kept histories of any
nation. The nation of Israel was first promised to Abraham. He was told that
through his decedents, a great nation would be born, and those people would
be God's chosen people. It was through Abraham's son, Isaac, that the lineage
of the Jewish people was established.
Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Through Jacob the nation of Israel was
born. Jacob then had twelve sons and one daughter with his two wives and two
concubines. Leah, his first wife, gave birth to six sons - Zebulun, Issachar,
Reuben, Simon, Levi, and Judah. Rachel, his most beloved wife, had two sons
- Joseph and Benjamin. His concubine, Zilpah, had Asher and Gad, and Bilhah
had Dan and Naphtali.
When Jacob was on his deathbed, he gathered all of his sons together and gave
each son his inheritance and a specific blessing. He also included the two grandsons
he had from his favorite child, Joseph. This is where the twelve tribes of Israel
It was not until many years later, after Moses freed the Jewish people and
they actually entered into the Promised Land, that the land was divided according
to their tribes and heritage. The land was divided by tribe at a meeting held
in Shiloh where all twelve tribes were gathered and Joshua cast lots. He then
assigned land areas accordingly.
There is often some confusion about the Twelve Tribes of Israel. If Jacob had
twelve sons and included his two grandsons, then Israel would be divided fourteen
ways, but this is not the case. The tribe of Levi was never given any land;
they were instead given the responsibility to be the caretakers of the religion.
There is no actual tribe of Joseph, because his two sons were included and he
was elevated to a patriarch and not a landowner. As a first-born son, the extra
territory he would have normally received was divided between his two sons,
Ephraim and Menasseh.
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