A-Z: General definitions: Tribes of Israel


The descendents of the twelve sons of Jacob, who formed the nation of Israel. The tribes are central to Israel's identity. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, each tribe was allotted a particular geographical area in which to live. Although the tribal distinctions are no longer important, the image of the Twelve Tribes carries over into the New Testament. One example is in the book of Revelation where, in the vision of the new Jerusalem, the twelve gates have the names of the tribes written on them (Revelation 21:12).

Related Topics

Big ideas: Jews, Hebrews, Children of Israel, Israelites; Promised Land, Diaspora, Zionism

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