Genesis 30:13, The Twelve Tribes of Israel, part II of II

Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher. 

//Yesterday, I asked whether the twelve tribes of Israel preceded the story of the twelve sons of Jacob. This would mean the stories told in the Bible were allegorical, meant to unify existing tribes, rather than to present the true history of Israel’s origin.

The tribe of Dan, for example, appears to be somewhat of a late comer, as discussed yesterday. Yesterday’s verse may provide a hint that Dan came from the west…not out of Egypt. Many scholars have speculated about whether they may be the Sea Peoples called the Danaoi or the Danuna.

Other tribe names may also hint of a different origin than that told by the Bible. The name Asher, in today’s verse, may come from Assur, the Assyrian god, or Asherah, the Canaanite goddess. Gad’s name means “good fortune,” but it is also the name of a Canaanite god. Zebulun, in Hebrew, may mean “gift” or “honor”, but it is also an epithet of Baal, another Canaanite god. It’s not surprising that many scholars conclude these tribes were never among the invaders of Canaan, as the story of Israel goes, but rather more original inhabitants … the ones invaded.

If the book of Judges gives any hint, the “twelve” tribes may have been more autonomous in their early days, and banded together as needed for mutual protection. The six sons of Leah—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulon—may have had stronger ties with one another than the remaining six.

The official uniting, then, may have come in the time of Joshua. If you’re interested in the topic, read the covenant language of Joshua chapter 24.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>