Category: Tribes of Israel


When people refer to the “lost tribes of Israel,” they usually have in mind the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom that fell to Assyria about 722 BC. These tribes are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Joseph (whose tribe was divided into the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh). Most of the people of the Northern Kingdom were deported to ancient Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). Many of the Jews who remained in the land intermarried with people from Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim who had been sent by the Assyrian king to inhabit Samaria (2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2–11). Thus, the story goes, the ten northern tribes of Israel were “lost” to history and either wiped out or assimilated into other people groups. This narrative, however, is based on inference and assumption rather than on direct biblical teaching.

There are many mysteries, legends, and traditions as to what happened to the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. One legend says that the ten tribes migrated to Europe (the Danube River, they say, got its name from the tribe of Dan). Another legend says the tribes migrated all the way to England and that all Anglo-Saxons today are actually Jews—this is a teaching of the heretical British Israelism. A surprising number of groups around the world claim to have descended from the “lost” tribes: there are people in India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and North America who all claim such ancestry. Other theories equate the Japanese or the American Indians with the ten “lost” tribes of Israel.

The truth is that the “lost tribes of Israel” were never really lost. Many of the Jews who remained in the land after the Assyrian conquest re-united with Judah in the south (2 Chronicles 34:6–9). Assyria was later conquered by Babylon, who went on to invade the Southern Kingdom of Israel, deporting the two remaining tribes: Judah and Benjamin (2 Kings 25:21). Remnants of the northern tribes would have thus been part of the Babylonian deportations. Seventy years later, when King Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return to Israel (Ezra 1), many (from all twelve tribes) returned to Israel to rebuild their homeland.

The idea that ten tribes of Israel were “lost” is false. God knows where all twelve tribes are, and, as the Bible itself proves, they are all accounted for. In the end times, God will call out witnesses from each of the twelve tribes (Revelation 7:4–8). So, obviously, God has been keeping track of who belongs to what tribe.

In the Gospels, the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36) was from the tribe of Asher (one of the ten supposedly lost tribes). Anna wasn’t lost at all. Both Zechariah and Elisabeth—and therefore John the Baptist—are from the tribe of Levi (Luke 1:5). Jesus promises the disciples that they will “sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:30). Paul, who knows he is from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1), speaks of “the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night” (Acts 26:7)—note the present tense. James addresses his epistle “to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (James 1:1). In short, there is ample evidence in Scripture that all twelve tribes of Israel are still in existence and will be in the Messianic kingdom. None of them are lost.

Advertisements

Throughout their history in the Promised Land, the children of Israel struggled with conflict among the tribes. The disunity went back all the way to the patriarch Jacob, who presided over a house divided. The sons of Leah and the sons of Rachel had their share of contention even in Jacob’s lifetime (Genesis 37:1-11).

The enmity among the half-brothers continued in the time of the judges. Benjamin (one of Rachel’s tribes) took up arms against the other tribes (Judges 20). Israel’s first king, Saul, was of the tribe of Benjamin. When David was crowned king—David was from the tribe of Judah (one of Leah’s tribes)—the Benjamites rebelled (2 Samuel 2–3). After a long war (2 Samuel 3:1), David succeeded in uniting all twelve tribes (5:1-5).

The frailty of the union was exposed, however, when David’s son Absalom promoted himself as the new king and drew many Israelites away from their allegiance to David (2 Samuel 15). Significantly, Absalom set up his throne in Hebron, the site of the former capital (v. 10). A later revolt was led by a man named Sheba against David and the tribe of Judah (20:1-2).

The reign of David’s son Solomon saw more unrest when one of the king’s servants, Jeroboam, rebelled. Jeroboam was on the king’s errand when he met the prophet Ahijah, who told him that God was going to give him authority over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. God’s reason for the division of the kingdom was definitive: “Because they have forsaken me . . . and have not walked in my ways.” However, God promised that David’s dynasty would continue, albeit over a much smaller kingdom, for the sake of God’s covenant with David and for the sake of Jerusalem, God’s chosen city. When Solomon learned of the prophecy, he sought to kill Jeroboam, who fled to Egypt for sanctuary (1 Kings 11:26-40).

After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam was set to become the next king. Jeroboam returned from Egypt and led a group of people to confront Rehoboam with a demand for a lighter tax burden. When Rehoboam refused the demand, ten of the tribes rejected Rehoboam and David’s dynasty (1 Kings 12:16), and Ahijah’s prophecy was fulfilled. Only Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to King Rehoboam. The northern tribes crowned Jeroboam as their king. Rehoboam made plans to mount an assault on the rebel tribes, but the Lord prevented him from taking that action (vv. 21-24). Meanwhile, Jeroboam further consolidated his power by instituting a form of calf worship unique to his kingdom and declaring that pilgrimages to Jerusalem were unnecessary. Thus, the people of the northern tribes would have no contact with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

“So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day” (1 Kings 12:19). The northern kingdom is called “Israel” (or sometimes “Ephraim”) in Scripture, and the southern kingdom is called “Judah.” From the divine viewpoint, the division was a judgment on not keeping God’s commands, specifically the commands prohibiting idolatry. From a human viewpoint, the division was the result of tribal discord and political unrest. The principle is that sin brings division (1 Corinthians 1:13, 11:18; James 4:1).

The good news is that God, in His mercy, has promised a reuniting of the northern and southern kingdoms. “He will raise a banner for the nations / and gather the exiles of Israel; / he will assemble the scattered people of Judah / from the four quarters of the earth. / Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, / and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed; / Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, / nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim” (Isaiah 11:12-13). When the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ—reigns in His millennial kingdom, all hostility, jealousy, and conflict among the tribes will be put to rest.

There is a difference between the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve sons of Israel. “Israel” is the name that God gave Jacob (Genesis 32:28). His twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Genesis 35:23-26; Exodus 1:1-4; 1 Chronicles 2:1-2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, Levi’s descendants did not receive a territory for themselves. Instead, they became priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. Joseph did not receive a tribe, either—Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, essentially giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in saving the family from famine (Genesis 47:11-12). This makes the tribes as listed in Joshua: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh. Adding to the confusion, the tribe of Ephraim is sometimes referred to as the tribe of Joseph (Numbers 1:32-33).

After King Solomon died, Israel split into two kingdoms. Judah, to the south, included Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The other tribes combined to make the kingdom of Israel in the north. Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians, and most of the Israelites were either killed or deported; the Israelites who remained most likely integrated with the kingdom of Judah.

Jesus was from Judah, Paul was from Benjamin, and John the Baptist was a Levite, but, since the diaspora in A.D. 70, identifying the tribe of a modern Jew is a little more difficult. That doesn’t mean that the tribal divisions are irrelevant. During the tribulation, when most of the world has abandoned God and is following the Antichrist, 144,000 Jews will be sealed by God. This number comprises 12,000 from each tribe. So, even if we don’t know who is in what tribe, God has kept track. The tribes are listed again in Revelation 7:5-8, but they are not the same tribes that were given land in Joshua. Manasseh is there, and Ephraim (under Joseph’s name). But instead of Dan, Levi is included. No explanation is given as to why.

Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from their father, Jacob, just before his death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Judah, Jacob prophesied: “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:8-12).

Each part of Jacob’s prophecy for the tribe of Judah reveals something about the people of that tribe, their history, and the spiritual application we can draw from it. In verse 8, Jacob prophesies that Judah’s brothers would praise him. Judah’s name signifies praise and was given him by his mother, her heart being filled with praises to God for him (Genesis 29:35) and is here confirmed by his father. The strength and power of the tribe is also foretold in verse 8. Verse 9 uses the imagery of both a lion and the lion’s cub to portray the tribe of Judah. Judah was comparable to a young lion for his strength, courage, and vitality and to a mature lion in that the line of Judah contained those of national prominence and kingship, including David and Solomon.

The scepter not departing from Judah until “he comes to whom it belongs” is a Messianic prophecy. The name “Shiloh” appears in this verse in several translations, a word that refers to the Messiah. Commentators differ on the exact meaning of this somewhat obscure passage, but all agree that He who comes to obtain the obedience of the nations can be none other than Christ. The rest of the passage, vv. 11-12, refers to the great abundance of riches that would belong to the tribe of Judah. So wealthy and blessed would they be that they would be able to tie a donkey to the choicest grapevine and allow him to eat his fill, an indication of the abundance that would belong to Judah.

The second application of vv. 11-12, and the one which pertains to Christians today, is the abundance of spiritual riches available to us in Christ, the great quantity of spiritual blessings flowing from the love of God, which come to us through Christ, which are comparable to wine and milk. The riches include His word and His statutes and Christ Himself, the Bread of Life. These may also be applied to Christ and to His human nature, which was like a garment dipped in blood through His sufferings and death. Isaiah 63:1-3 contains this same imagery. It can also refer to His church and His people whose garments are washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14).

Each of the twelve sons of Israel received a blessing from their father, Jacob,  just before his death. The twelve sons were the progenitors of the twelve tribes  of Israel, and the blessing contained prophetic information about the future of  each tribe. In the case of the tribe of Simeon, which was paired in the prophecy  with the tribe of Levi, Jacob prophesied, “Simeon and Levi are brothers—their  swords are weapons of violence. Let me not enter their council, let me not join  their assembly, for they have killed men in their anger and hamstrung oxen as  they pleased. Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will  scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (Genesis  49:5-7).

Jacob pronounces a curse upon the anger of Simeon and Levi,  no doubt remembering when they treacherously and barbarously destroyed the  Shechemites, which Jacob deeply resented for the barbarous way in which it was  done and the reproach it brought upon his entire family (Genesis 34:24-30).  Simeon’s anger was evil, not because indignation against sin is unwarrantable in  itself, but because his wrath was marked by deeds of fierceness and cruelty.  Righteous anger and indignation, the kind Jesus exhibited in cleansing the  Temple, for example, is never characterized by cruelty. The swords of Simeon,  which should have been only weapons of defense, were weapons of violence (v. 5),  to do wrong to others, not to save themselves from wrong.

Jacob’s  pronouncement, “I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel” came  true. The tribe of Simeon was the smallest and weakest of all the tribes at the  close of their sojourn in the wilderness, as noted in the second census of Moses  (Numbers  26:14), and the tribe of Simeon was omitted from the blessing of Moses (Deuteronomy  33:8). Further, because of its size, the tribe of Simeon was forced to share  territory with Judah, the larger and more powerful tribe (Joshua 19:1-9). Jacob did  not cut the descendants of Simeon off from any part in the promised inheritance,  but he did divide and scatter them.

As Christians, we learn from the  tribe of Simeon that anger is the cause and origin of a great deal of sin when  it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which  hurts are multiplied (Proverbs  29:11). Anger leaves devastation in its wake, often with irreparable  consequences. Furthermore, while anger against sin is not unwarranted, we ought  always to be very careful to distinguish between the sinner and the sin, so as  not to love or bless the sin for the sake of the person, nor to hate nor curse  the person for the sake of the sin.

Jacob’s statement, “let me not enter  their counsel; let me not join their assembly” is a lesson for us as well. We  are not to take the counsel of the angry man because he is unstable and exhibits  an inability to control his passions. When anger is a defining trait in  another’s life, it is an indication of the lack of the spiritual gift of  self-control which is the hallmark of all believers (Galatians 5:22-23). An  angry person makes a poor counselor and in fact, his company should be avoided,  especially when the sin of anger is unconfessed and there is no attempt to deal  with it in a godly manner.

Finally, Simeon and Levi appeared to be  inseparable brothers who are always mentioned together in Scripture, an  indication that, like many brothers and sisters, they may have “brought out the  worst in each other.” Christian parents who see this type of relationship  developing in siblings whose influence upon one another is unhealthy, would do  well to consider separating them from one another in circumstances where their  unfortunate tendency to spur one another to wrong may exert itself.

Israel’s 12 tribes were named for Jacob’s children or, in the case of Ephraim (and Manasseh), his grandchildren. Ephraim was born in Egypt to Joseph his wife, Asenath. Joseph named his second-born son “Ephraim” because “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). When Jacob gave his blessing to his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, he chose to bless the younger Ephraim first, despite Joseph’s protests. In doing so, Jacob noted that Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh (Genesis 48:5-21).

Throughout the Old Testament, the name “Ephraim” often refers to the 10 tribes compromising Israel’s Northern Kingdom, not just the single tribe named after Joseph’s son (Ezekiel 37:16; Hosea 5:3). The Northern Kingdom, also referred to as “Israel,” was taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. (Jeremiah 7). The Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians nearly 140 years later (586 B.C.).

We learn from the tribe of Ephraim (and the other tribes) about our human essence, who we are as people. The history of the early Israelites reflects our universally flawed and sinful nature. As the book of Romans says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

There are several specific events regarding the tribe of Ephraim that we can learn from. While God gifted the tribe as warriors and valiant fighters (1 Chronicles 12:30), Ephraim failed to follow God’s order to remove the Canaanites from the Promised Land (Exodus 23:23-25; Judges 1:29; Joshua 16:10).

During the time of the judges, the Ephraimites became angry with Gideon because he had not initially called for their help in battling the Midianites (Judges 8:1). Gideon wisely displayed godly kindness and extolled the tribe’s commitment and willingness to serve the Lord, thus diffusing what could have become an ugly situation (Judges 8:2-3).

However, ugliness did arise later, and again it can be linked to Ephraim’s pride, jealously, and self-centeredness. When Jephthah chose to fight (and defeat) the Ammonites without the aid of the proud Ephraim warriors, a civil war erupted, and 42,000 warriors from Ephraim were killed. As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount, we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Do not seek glory for yourself; all honor and glory always belongs to God, not to man.

Often, God chooses to use us in a manner less glamorous or spectacular than we would like. Do we pout? Do we yearn for glory? Do we control our pride and jealousy and accept God’s will? Many of us, like the Ephraimites, have difficulty learning those lessons well. God says that we should accept what happens to us as His will, regardless of how good or bad those circumstances seem to us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Other lessons of Ephraim complete the picture of the wide-range of human behavior. We see Ephraim turning away from God and doing wicked things (Isaiah 28:1-3), yet we also find the tribe recognizing the need to repent and obey by following the prophet Oded’s instructions (2 Chronicles 28:12).

The biggest lesson from the history of Ephraim is that God loves us as the Perfect Father despite our failings. He is patient and merciful beyond our understanding. He hears our cries of anguish, disciplines and guides us, knows our moments of repentance, and yearns for us to be in perfect communion with Him (Jeremiah 30:22; 31:18-20).

Tribes of Israel

There  is a difference between the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve sons of  Israel. “Israel” is the name that God gave Jacob (Genesis  32:28). His twelve sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad,  Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin (Genesis  35:23-26; Exodus  1:1-4; 1  Chronicles 2:1-2). When the tribes inherited the Promised Land, Levi’s  descendants did not receive a territory for themselves. Instead, they became  priests and had several cities scattered throughout all of Israel. Joseph did  not receive a tribe, either—Jacob had adopted Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and  Manasseh, essentially giving Joseph a double portion for his faithfulness in  saving the family from famine (Genesis  47:11-12). This makes the tribes as listed in Joshua: Reuben, Simeon, Judah,  Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh.  Adding to the confusion, the tribe of Ephraim is sometimes referred to as the  tribe of Joseph (Numbers  1:32-33).

After King Solomon died, Israel split into two kingdoms.  Judah, to the south, included Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. The other tribes  combined to make the kingdom of Israel in the north. Israel was destroyed by the  Assyrians, and most of the Israelites were either killed or deported; the  Israelites who remained most likely integrated with the kingdom of  Judah.

Jesus was from Judah, Paul was from Benjamin, and John the  Baptist was a Levite, but, since the diaspora in  A.D. 70, identifying the tribe of a modern Jew is a little more difficult. That  doesn’t mean that the tribal divisions are irrelevant. During the tribulation,  when most of the world has abandoned God and is following the Antichrist,  144,000 Jews will be sealed by God. This number  comprises 12,000 from each tribe. So, even if we don’t know who is in what  tribe, God has kept track. The tribes are listed again in Revelation 7:5-8, but  they are not the same tribes that were given land in Joshua. Manasseh is there,  and Ephraim (under Joseph’s name). But instead of Dan, Levi is included. No  explanation is given as to why.

Here is a list of the tribes of Israel:

The  tribe of Benjamin;  The tribe of Dan; The tribe of Levi; The tribe of Joseph; The tribe of Issachar; The tribe of Gad; The tribe of Manasseh; The tribe of Ephraim; The tribe of Zebulun; The tribe of Asher; The tribe of Reuben; The tribe of  Judah and, The tribe of Simeon; and, The tribe of Naphtali.

The tribe of Dan was the group of people who descended from the fifth son of  Jacob, Dan. Jacob went on to have twelve sons who became the patriarchs of the  12 tribes of Israel. The history of the tribe of Dan is especially instructive  to us in that it contains multiple examples of the tendency of people to follow  man-made religion over biblical faith in God. This is totally contrary to the  Scriptures that teach us “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by  observing the law” (Romans 3:20)  and “without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews  11:6).

As the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, by lot  certain areas of territory were assigned to each tribe. The tribe of Dan was  given a tract of land that was smaller than the other land grants, but was  fertile and also had a boundary along the Mediterranean Sea where there was  fishing and commerce available to them.

However, the tribe of Dan never  fully conquered this area as a result of a lack of faith in God. This was true  of the other tribes as well as the early chapters of the book of Judges clearly  teach, and led to a time during the period of Judges where it was said, “In  those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own  eyes.” Judges  18:1-31 tells the story of the people of Dan falling into idolatry. They  also did not like the territory that was theirs, so they sent out spies to find  a better area. In the north, some representatives of Dan learned of an area  where a peaceful group of people lived. The tribe of Dan took things into their  own hands and wiped out the people of that land so that they could then move the  entire tribe up to a region close to the sources of the Jordan River, just south  of present day Lebanon. There they established their main city and called it  Dan.

Later in the history of the Hebrews, the kingdom was divided after  the reign of Solomon. The kingdom was split, with Israel’s ten tribes in the  north and Judah in the south with two tribes. The people of Dan were in the  northern kingdom of Israel. We learn in 1 Kings  12:25-33 that King Jeroboam was afraid that those who lived in his kingdom  in the north would still go down to the southern kingdom to worship at  Jerusalem, since that was where the Temple that God had authorized was located.  So he built two additional altars for the people of his nation to worship. He  established worship in the south at Bethel and in the north at Dan. He built a  golden calf at each location, and instituted special days and feasts where  people would meet. Sadly, this man-made worship at Dan has been one of its  lasting legacies.

Today, many people follow various man-made religions  and are convinced that all ways lead to God. Unfortunately, these groups follow  in the ways of the tribe of Dan. Proverbs  16:25 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end  is the way of death.” Jesus taught that the way to God was specific when He  said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except  by Me” (John 14:6). John 3:36 teaches that “He who  believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son  shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” To learn from the  mistakes of Dan would be to worship the God of the Bible alone and live for Him  by faith.

In Genesis 49 the patriarch Jacob, sensing his impending death,  gathers his sons to his bedside to bless them. Each son became the progenitor of  the twelve tribes of Israel. Benjamin, as the youngest, receives his father’s  blessing last: “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he shall devour the  prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Genesis  49:27). The warlike nature of the small tribe of Benjamin became well known,  as exhibited in their swordsmen (Judge 20:15-16; 1  Chronicles 8:40, 12:22  Chronicles 14:8, 17:17) and in their ungodly defense of their extreme  wickedness in Gibeah (Judges 19–20).

Benjamin’s blessing has three  parts. Compared to a wolf, his blessing has two time frames, morning and  evening; it has two actions, devouring and dividing; and two outcomes, prey and  spoil. This sets up a type of “before and after” experience for Benjamin and his  offspring.

Scripture shows that at least four great people came from  Benjamin’s tribe, even though it was the smallest of the twelve tribes (1 Samuel 9:21). First,  Ehud, a great warrior who delivered Israel from Moab (Judges 3:12-30). Next,  Saul becomes the first king of Israel (1 Samuel  9:15-27). In later Jewish history, while captives in Persia, God used  Mordechai and Esther to deliver the Jews from death, and they, too, came from  this tribe (Esther  2:5-7). Finally, in the New Testament the apostle Paul affirms he, too, came  from Benjamin. “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I  also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). He repeats  this affirmation in Philippians 3:4-5.

Yet Benjamin’s tribe had its  dark side. The warlike nature came out not only in defense of his country, but  also in depravity within his country. In Judges 19–21 Benjamin took up an  offence against the other 11 tribes of Israel, and civil war ensued. This period  had the reputation of everyone doing what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). What led to  this was the horrific abuse and death of an unnamed Levite’s concubine (Judges 19:10-28). The  eleven tribes turned against the tribe of Benjamin and nearly annihilated them  because of their refusal to give up the perpetrators (Judges 20:1-21:25).  Eventually the tribes restored Benjamin’s tribe, greatly diminished due to the  war, and the country reunited.

In Jewish culture the day begins at  evening. Here begins the “after” for Benjamin. Benjamin’s prophecy ends in the  evening, the beginning of a new day, in which he will “divide the spoil.” This  has two aspects. First, through the apostle Paul, who testifies, “This is a  faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the  world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy  1:15). In the apostle Paul Benjamin’s tribe had a citizen who served God  mightily, as he says of himself, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my  course, I have kept the faith“ (2 Timothy  4:7).

But his “dividing of the spoil” has its fulfillment yet  future. In Revelation  7:8, during the Tribulation period, 12,000 men from Benjamin, along with  12,000 from each of the other tribes of Israel, will reach a world population  with the gospel “that no man could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and  tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with  palm branches in their hands” (Revelation  7:9). The second dividing of the spoil for Benjamin comes in the Millennial  kingdom when he will have a place in the land of Israel, along with a gate that  has his name on it in the city of Jerusalem (Ezekiel  48:32). He, along with the other tribes of Israel will find the ultimate  dividing of the spoils in the New Jerusalem as each gate has their name,  Benjamin included, on each of the twelve gates (Revelation 21:12-13). What a glorious finish! What grace  is this!

Benjamin has great truths to teach. First, God doesn’t see as  men see, for God looks on the heart. God saw a warrior inside of Benjamin.  Outwardly, others saw him as the youngest son and his tribe as the smallest  tribe. But God saw more, a man who would both devour and divide. The second  lesson for us lies in the two Sauls who came from the tribe of Benjamin. King  Saul, the epitome of the sin nature and its war against God, and Saul/Paul whose  nature was changed by God from a murderous Pharisee to the Apostle of grace.  Paul is the example of what He does for those who come to Christ in faith.