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Friday, May 25, 2018

Comparing the Different Listings of the Twelve Tribes

Carrying on from our last two studies, we now look at the "things that differ" in regard to the 12 tribes. Let's start with the original 12 sons of Israel (Jacob):

"And these are the names of the sons of Israel who had come into Egypt; with Jacob had they come, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher... and Joseph was in Egypt...
-Exodus 1:1-5

When they occupy the area around the tabernacle in Numbers 2, the list omits Levi, and includes Ephraim and Manasseh; the sons of Joseph.

Jacob had prophesied this. He gave the sons of Joseph a place among his sons:

"And now thy two sons, who were born to thee in the land of Egypt before I came to thee into Egypt, shall be mine: Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon."
-Genesis 48:5

In Numbers 26, God tells Moses how the inheritance of the land will be divided. He names the tribes and their families. In that chapter, again, Levi is separated out as with the land about the tabernacle.

"[the sons of Levi] were not numbered among the children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given them among the children of Israel."
-Num 26:53

So, when it comes to inheritance of land and occupation of land, the priestly tribe, Levi, had no claim. They serviced the tabernacle (and later, the temple). This was the reason for the tithe. It went to support the temple and the priesthood. It has no place in the current age.

Jumping ahead to Ezekiel 48 and the future temple we see two lists: the first involved the inheritance and, again, leaves out Levi. But when the gates of the city are listed, Levi is there (Ephraim and Manasseh are represented by Joseph).

In the Book of the Revelation (a fully Jewish book which deals with Israel's future) we see an interesting list in Rev 7 (the evangelists during the Tribulation): Levi is there (not a matter of the land), but Ephraim and Dan are missing (Joseph joins Manasseh to make it 12).

Where are Dan and Ephraim? Remember, this is a time of Israel's testing and fire unto purity. Pagan worship in the northern kingdom was centered in Dan and Ephraim. Jeremiah cries out against them:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness,
That you may be saved.
How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?
For a voice declares from DAN
And proclaims affliction from Mount EPHRAIM...
-Jeremiah 4:14-15

(I believe Joseph takes Ephraim's place as a picture of God's justice and grace in separating out those in Ephraim who did not bow a knew to the pagan gods.)

When the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, Rev 21, we see the gates which bring to mind the gates in Ezek 48; the original 12 sons of Israel including Levi, Dan and Joseph are listed on those gates.

"These are the exits of the city... (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel)..."-Ezek 48:30,31

"Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west."
-Rev 21:12-13

We must also see in the Jewish picture, the 12 Apostles of the Lamb, who were the "Apostles to the Circumcision" as we have seen in recent studies. The Revelation is a fully Jewish book.

"Now the wall of the city [New Jerusalem] had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."-Rev 21:14

The New Jerusalem is a reward for Jews who overcome and righteous Gentiles in the Jewish age who honor Israel and have faith in her Messiah. This is the city those in Hebrews 11 looked to (v10). This is the "better resurrection" they sought (v35).

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