Zebulun

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The Tribe of Zebulun.

Census. According to the genealogical list (chap. 46) at the time of the migration into Egypt while Joseph was still ruling in Egypt three sons are ascribed to Zebulun. During the desert journey Zebulun, with Judah and Issachar, formed the first camp. The tribe then numbered 57,400 (Num. 1:31)

Position. Zebulun's place was on the east side of the tabernacle, with his brothers Judah and Issachar (Num 2:3-8).

Standard. The place of Zebulun in the encampment was with the standard of the tribe of Judah (along with Issachar).The rabbis say that this standard was of 3 colors, sardine, topaz and carbuncle, on which were inscribed the names of the 3 tribes, bearing the figure of a lion's whelp (Tg, pseudo. Jon. on Num 2:3).

Journeying. "All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Judah (Issachar and Zebulun), one hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred-- these shall break camp first." (Num 2:9)

Representatives. At Sinai the head of the tribe was Eliab, son of Helon (7:24); and at Shiloh, it was Elizaphan, son of Parnach (34:25). Its representative among the spies was Gaddiel, son of Sodi (13:10).

Interesting Notes. Zebulun played an important role in Israel's history during the period of the Judges. Its fighting men were an important part of Barak's force against Sisera (Judg. 4:6-10; 5:14,18) and of Gideon's army against the Midianites (Judg. 6:35). Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel for ten years (Judg. 12:12). At Hebron, 50,000 Zebulunites joined the other tribes in proclaiming David king (1 Chr. 12:33,40). Although Zebulun suffered during the Assyrian wars, when Tiglath-Pileser carried away captives to Assyria (2 Kin. 15:29), Isaiah prophesied that in the future Zebulun would be greatly blessed: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali... in Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined" (Is. 9:1-2). According to the Gospel of Matthew, this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus began His Galilean ministry (Matt. 4:12-17). Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, and Cana, where He performed His first miracle, both lay in the territory of Zebulun.

The Land Division. At the division of territory the lot of Zebulun came up third, and assigned to him a beautifully diversified stretch of country in the North. The area of his possession is in general clear enough, but it is impossible to define the boundaries exactly (Josh 19:10-16). The line ran northward from Mt. Tabor, keeping on the heights West of the Sea of Galilee, on to Kerr `Anan (Hannathon). It turned westward along the base of the mountain, and reached the border of Asher, probably by the vale of `Abilin. It then proceeded southward to the Kishon opposite Tell Kaimun (Jokneam). As the plain belonged to Issachar, the south border would skirt its northern edge, terminating again at Tabor, probably near Deburiyeh (Daberath), which belonged to Issachar (21:28). Nazareth, Jesus' hometown, and Cana, where He performed His first miracle, both lay in the territory of Zebulun.

The Man Zebulun

Heb. tzeb'oo-loon; "dwelling, habitation." The tenth son of Jacob, and the sixth and last of Leah

Gen 30:19-20 Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. And Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." So she called his name Zebulun.

There is nothing recorded concerning Zebulun personally.

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Jewish Tradition

The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says that Zebulun, first of the five brethren was presented to Pharaoh by Joseph, when Israel and his house arrived in Egypt (Gen 47:2).

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