GLOSSARY - Map of the 12 Tribes of Israel

Reuben

The Tribe of Reuben

The Reubenites requested an early inheritance east of the Jordan River where the land was suitable for cattle (Num. 32:1-33), extending on the south to the river Arnon, on the east to the desert of Arabia; on the west were the Dead Sea and the Jordan, and the northern border was probably marked by a line running eastward from the Jordan.They helped the other tribes claim their land, however, and Joshua commended them for their efforts (Josh. 22:9-10). The tribe also built an altar - along with the tribe of Gad and the halftribe of Manasseh - in the Jordan Valley as a witness to their unity with the tribes west of the Jordan (Josh. 22:11-34).

Bible Verses

Joshua 13:15; Numbers 32:1-33; Joshua 22:9-10; Joshua 22:11-34

Joshua 13:15

Numbers 32:1-33

Joshua 22:9-10

Joshua 22:11-34

Simeon

The Tribe of Simeon

When the land of Canaan was divided, the second lot fell to Simeon. The tribe received land in the extreme southern part of Canaan, in the middle of Judah's territory (Josh. 19:1-9). Simeon united with Judah in fighting the Canaanites (Judg. 1:1,3, 17). Among the Simeonite cities were Beersheba, Hormah, and Ziklag (Josh. 19:1-9).

Judah

The Tribe of Judah

Except for Simeon, Judah was the southernmost tribe of the Israelites. However, Simeon seems to have been absorbed into Judah at an early date. Judah's eastern border was the Dead Sea, and its western border was the Mediterranean Sea, although the Philistines usually controlled the plain along the sea. Originally, Judah's northern boundary ran from just south of Jerusalem northwest to Kirjath Jearim and Jabneel. To the south Judah's border ran south to the Ascent of Akrabbim, to the Wilderness of Zin, and south from Kadesh Barnea to the Mediterranean. At its longest point Judah was about 153 kilometers (95 miles) in length. At its widest point it was about 45 miles wide, excluding the area controlled by the Philistines. During the period of the divided kingdom, its northern boundary ran north of Jerusalem. Together with Benjamin they formed the southern kingdom of Judah, which at one time included Edom to the southeast.

Dan

The Tribe of Dan

The area allotted to Dan included the towns of Aijalon, Ekron, Eltekeh, and Zorah in the west central part of Canaan (Josh. 19:40-46; 21:5, 23-24) and stretched to Joppa on the Mediterranean Sea. The Danites, however were unable to conquer much of the territory assigned to them. The original inhabitants, the Amorites, kept the Danites confined to the hill country of Ephraim and Benjamin. Unable to conquer their allotted territory, some members of the tribe of Dan migrated far to the northernmost area of the Promised Land and conquered the isolated city of LAISH, which they renamed Dan.

Naphtali

The Tribe of Naphtali

Along with Asher, Naphtali was the northernmost tribe of Israel, occupying a long, narrow piece of land-- about 50 miles north to south and about 10 miles from east to west. Naphtali was mountainous (Josh. 20:7) and very fertile. Fortified cities within the tribe's boundaries included Ramah, Hazor, Kedesh, Iron, and Beth Anath (Josh. 19:36-38). The three cities given to the Levites in Naphtali were Kedesh (a city of refuge), Hammoth Dor, and Kartan (Josh. 21:32).

Gad

The Tribe of Gad

The territory of Gad or Gilead lay east of the Jordan River between the halftribe of Manasseh to the north and the tribe of Reuben to the south. Its western boundary was the Jordan River; on the east it faced the territory of the Ammonites. Gad had few major towns.

Asher

The Tribe of Asher

The territory of Asher extended to the northern boundary of Palestine; its southern border was the tribe of Manasseh and the mountains of Mount Carmel. Asher was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east by the tribe of Naphtali.

Issachar

The Tribe of Issachar

The territory allotted to this tribe was bounded on the north by Zebulun and Naphtali, on the south and west by Manasseh, and on the east by the Jordan River (Josh. 19:17-23). Most of the fertile Valley of Jezreel, or Esdraelon, fell within Issachar's territory. Its fertile, flat plains were well-suited for the raising of cattle.

Zebulun

The Tribe of Zebulun

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.

Benjamin

The Tribe of Benjamin

Its northern boundary ran westward from the Jordan River through Bethel and just south of Lower Beth Horon; its western boundary picked up at this point to Kirjath Jearim; its southern border ran eastward to the northern point of the Dead Sea; and its easternmost limit was the Jordan River (Josh. 18:11-20). The chief towns in this hilly, fertile region were Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethel, Gibeon, Gibeath, and Mizpah (Josh. 18:21-28).

Ephraim

The Tribe of Ephraim

This tribe settled a territory bounded on the north by the territory of Manasseh (west of the River Jordan) and on the south by the territories of Dan and Benjamin (Josh. 16:5-10).

Manasseh

The Tribe of Manasseh

In the settlement of Canaan, land was provided for Manasseh on both sides of the Jordan River. Eastern Manasseh was able to occupy its land only after it had aided the other tribes in conquering their territories (Num. 32:1-33). Because of the Canaanite fortresses and strong cities in the land (for example, Megiddo, En Dor, Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, and Beth Shean), western Manasseh had difficulty settling its territory.