Twelve Tribes of Israel

Twelve Tribes of Israel – according to the Old Testament, the term broadly referring to the descendants of the sons of Jacob (also known as Israel), who became the ancestors of all Israelites; in its more specific meaning, it refers to the twelve tribes of Jews who, following the death of Moses, were led by Joshua to the conquest of the Promised Land (Canaan), subsequently establishing their settlements and dividing the land between themselves; the tribes were named after the respective sons and grandsons of Jacob. The patronymic ancestors of five tribes: the Tribe of Ruben, the Tribe of Simeon, the Tribe of Judah, the Tribe of Issachar, and the Tribe of Zebulun were the sons of Jacob and Leah (the Levites – descendants of Jacob’s son Levi – performed religious functions and were therefore not given any land, apart from several towns); the Tribe of Gad and the Tribe of Asher were named after the sons of Jacob and Zilpah, Leah’s servant. Jacob’s second wife, Rachel, gave birth to Joseph and Benjamin, who became the forefather of his tribe, while the Tribe of Manasseh and the Tribe of Ephraim are named after sons of Joseph; the Tribe of Dan and the Tribe of Naphtali were named after the sons of Jacob and Bilhah, Rachel’s servant. Ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom founded after Solomon’s death in the 10th century BCE, also known as Israel, were enslaved by the Assyrians (these are traditionally referred to as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel).

© The entry was written on the basis of source materials of the PWN printing house: PWN Encyclopaedia, Polish language dictionaries and Foreign language dictionaries.



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