Names of the Twelve Tribes

There is a theory that some theologians have, that the names of the sons of Jacob can be put into a sentence to gain some kind of hidden message. This is put forward because almost every name in the Bible has a meaning and every time the names of the twelve tribes are listed they are never in the same order.

The 12 tribes are named in scripture; only once in birth order. [Gen 29:31-30:24]

To complicate things there are actually 13 tribes called by 14 different names. Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Jacob blesses in place of Joseph. So there was no longer a tribe of Joseph, but the two half tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim. To continue to have twelve tribes, Levi who received no land is usually left out of the lists.

In The Revelation chapter 7 the tribes are listed in the 144,000 prophecy, there are some strangeness about the tribes. Dan is missing. Joseph is listed but so is Manasseh, one would think that Ephraim would also be listed also but he is left off as well, and Levi who is usually left off is there.

Here they are in the order they are in The Revelation 7, we have added Ephraim and Dan so you know what their names mean.

name chart


If you want to play with these names we suggest that you put them on little sticky notes so they can be easily rearranged as they appear in the different passages. (have fun waisting time, there just aren’t enough verbs to make clear sentences)

These are the passages where the tribes are listed out

Jacob’s blessing Gen. 49

List of the son who went down the Egypt Ex. 1:1-4

The Heads of Houses of the Tribes Ex. 6:14-25

The census Num. 1:1-54

The order of the camp in the wilderness Num. 2:1-34

The twelve offerings to consecrate the tabernacle. Num. 7:11-83

The order in which they broke camp Num. 10:11-28

The leaders of the tribes Num. 13:3-16

The census after the plague Num 26:5-51

The curse and the blessing of Mount Gerizim and Ebal Deut. 27:12-13

The genealogy 1Chr. 2:1-2

Enrolling the tribes into the Book of the Kings 1Chr. 5:1- 8:40

The prophecy of Ezekiel Ezek. 48:1-35

2 thoughts on “Names of the Twelve Tribes

  1. You have the defintions wrong. Dan is ” he has vindicated. Reuben is behold a son. Gad is Given good fortune . Issachar is God rewarded me. zebulun is his precious gift. Asher is I sm happy. Levi is attached. Simeon is who hears. Joseph is may he increase. Naphtali is my struggle.

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