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The Tribe of Naphtali.

Census. At the time of the migration into Egypt while Joseph was still ruling in Egypt Naphtali had four sons (Gen. 46:24; 1 Chr. 7:13). While in Egypt Naphtali increased rapidly, numbering at the first census 53,400 (Num. 1:43), ranking sixth. The number decreased during the wilderness journey, for at the second census the adult males amounted to only 45,400, ranking eighth (Num 26:50).

Position. Naphtali occupied a position on the north side of the tabernacle with Dan and Asher (Num 2:25-31).

Standard. The standard, according to Jewish tradition, was a serpent, or basilisk, with the legend, "Return of Yahweh to the many thousands of Israel" (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Num 2:25).

Journeying. "All who were numbered of the forces with Dan (Naphtali and Asher), one hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred-- they shall break camp last (fourth), with their standards." (Num 2:31).

Representatives. The prince of the tribe at Sinai was Ahira ben Enan (2:29). Among the spies the tribe was represented by Nahbi ben Vophsi (13:14).

Interesting Notes. At the ceremony of blessing and cursing, Dan and Naphtali stood on Mount Ebal, while the other Rachel tribes were on Gerizim (Deut 27:13). The tribe of Naphtali did not drive out all the Canaanites, but it did receive tribute from them. Barak, of Kedesh (Naphtali) was the one great hero whom Naphtali is recorded to have produced (Judg. 4:6). Naphtali responded to Gideon's call (Judg. 6:35; 7:23). When Saul's son Ishbosheth challenged David for the throne, 37,000 fighting men of Naphtali, led by 1,000 captains, joined David (1 Chr. 12:34). A part of the Northern Kingdom after the Israelites divided into two kingdoms, Naphtali was ravaged by the Syrian king Ben-Hadad (1 Kin. 15:20). Naphtali was also the first tribe captured by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III (2 Kin. 15:29). Isaiah prophesied that one day the land of Naphtali, "in Galilee of the Gentiles," would see a great light (Is. 9:1-7). In the land of Naphtali Jesus spent a great part of his public life, the land of Gennesaret, Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin all lying within its boundaries (Matt 4:15).

The Land Division. 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).

The Man Naphtali

Heb. Naf'tali; "my wrestling").

Gen 30:7-8 And Rachel's maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, "With great wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and indeed I have prevailed." So she called his name Naphtali.

The sixth son of Jacob. Naphtali was the second son of Bilhah, Rachel's maid, and full brother to Dan.

Leah's fruitfulness was a hard trial her barren sister Rachel. She had obtained children from her maid and thus her reproach of childlessness was removed. The name Naphtali given to this son was a monument of her victory. She had won the favor and blessing of God.

Of the personal history of Naphtali we know nothing, as up to the time of Jacob's blessing the twelve patriarchs his name is mentioned only in the two public lists (Gen. 35:25; 46:24).



Jewish Tradition

According to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Naphtali was a swift runner. It also tells us that he was one of the 5 brethren whom Joseph chose to represent the family of Jacob in the presence of Pharaoh. He is said to have been 132 years old at his death. [Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, viii, 1, 1]



Copyright 1998 The Bible Knowledge Accelerator

The Tabernacle of Moses in Ancient Israel


The Bronze Altar The Bronze Laver The Golden Lampstand

The Cherubim The Tabernacle of Moses in the Wilderness The Cherubim

The Golden Table of Shewbread The Golden Altar of Incense The Ark of the Covenant

"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among (in) them" - Exodus 25:8

The Purpose and Heart of the Law - A Devotional Message

Blood Atonement - A Bible Study

The Tabernacle of Ancient Israel was a sanctuary which was given in a vision to Moses as a pattern and constructed by the children of Israel. God's promise was that He would dwell within the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

Why Study the Tabernacle?

A) 50 Chapters Mention The Tabernacle

Because at least 50 chapters (13-Ex, 18-Lev, 13-Num, 2-Deut, 4-Heb) in the Bible tell of the construction, the ritual, the priesthood, the carrying of the tabernacle, and the meaning of it all. Also many other places in Scripture speak in figurative language concerning the tabernacle. In many Bible studies this subject is overlooked and considered insignificant.


B) The Tearing of the Veil

God Himself thought so much of the importance of the type, as shown by the tearing of the veil:

Matt 27:50-51 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

If we don't understand the meaning in Scripture of the holy of holies and the veil we miss out on extremely significant information concerning exactly what Christ's death meant to sinful mankind.


C) The Tabernacle is a Type of Christ:

Remember what the Word says, "all Scripture is given by inspiration (God-breathed) of God..." When we look at the Bible we must remember that it is completely God-breathed. When we look at each Word we must remember that every Word is specifically God-breathed. That was the view of Christ when it came to the Scriptures, that was the view of the apostles, and that must be our view. This is the very Word of God. It doesn't just contain the Word of God, or just point to religious experience, this is the Word of God.

Is it any wonder then that each and every detail and Word about the tabernacle has spiritual significance? As we look to the tabernacle structure itself and its unique pieces of redemptive furniture there is great symbolism and typology found in them. Remember, everything was a finger pointing to the Messiah. The tabernacle, as a type, designed specifically and in detail by God, would point to the character and aspects of the ministry of Christ. The more we become familiar with the tabernacle the more we become familiar with Christ and all that He means to us. What a great reason to become familiar with the Scriptures concerning the tabernacle.

Heb 10:20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,

Col 2:17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

D) It is a Representation of the True Tabernacle in Heaven:

The Lord wants us to be aware of His nature and character. Even the angels don't fully understand the nature and character of God but they learn from watching His dealings with His church (Eph 3). Things are really happening in the heavenly dimension and the Lord wants to reveal to us what took place in heaven after the resurrection of Christ. There is a real tabernacle in the heavenlies and Christ really appeared before the throne of heaven as the Lamb of God (Rev 5). There is no doubt that some of these things are a mystery but the more we draw close to God and His Word the more He draws close to us.

Heb 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.


E) The Presence Within the Holy of Holies Dwells Within the Believer in Jesus:

Jesus said I am the temple (Mishkan) of God. When the glory (Heb. Sh'chinah) would come down like a tornado or funnel right through the roof of the holy of holies and the Presence would manifest on the mercy seat between the cherubim after the blood was sprinkled, that was the mishkan. That Presence was what Jesus said dwelt within Him. And in fact Paul said about the church, "Know ye not that you are the temple (Mishkan) of God?" We, as the body of Christ, have the same Presence dwelling within us. God doesn't dwell in buildings now but within His people.

1 Cor 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?


F) Its teaching covers in type almost all of New Testament truth.

The study of the tabernacle is so rich in meaning to the Christian and so pregnant with Messianic significance that we can spend a lifetime in the study of it and only begin to understand the riches and the depth of truth that lies within the study of the tabernacle.

Rom 15:4 "Whatever things that were written before were written for our learning."

G) Studying the Tabernacle will absolutely strengthen our faith in the Bible.

Be assured that anyone who has delved into the wonderful details of the tabernacle will confess that the Bible is more than just a book. No man could have thought of this. The Bible is the Word of God.

"all Scripture is given by inspiration of God..."



The Tabernacle

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