map shows where the twelve tribes of Israel were located!
Jacob had twelve sons, and the land of Israel was given to his
sons which created the twelve tribes. Can you spot the twelve tribes of
Israel on the map?
Here is a list of all the tribes:
Did you notice the name Dan shows up twice on the map? That's
because the tribe of Dan was given the land along the coast, but there is
also a city named Dan up in the north! One of Jacob's sons, Levi, was not
given land because his tribe was chosen to be priests so they had a special
relationship with God instead of land.
These 12 tribes would eventually be unified as one nation, the
nation of Israel, and be led by kings such as King Saul, King David, and
The 12 Tribes of Israel for Kids
. God made promises that go all the way back to
the Garden of Eden. These promises passed on to the men and women of God in the
earliest of times. Abraham Isaac and Jacob are the fathers of the children of
Israel. They put their hope in God and his promises, and God did everything he
said he was going to do for them. When they found themselves as slaves in Egypt
God raised up a Hebrew named Moses to deliver them out and lead them to the
12 Tribes and Bible History The
children of Israel had wandered in the wilderness for 40 long years with Moses
as their leader. God was preparing a people. But it would be their children who
would inherit the blessing. The time came for the people of Israel to enter the
promised land. Moses died and appointed Joshua to lead them into the promised
land. They miraculously crossed over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan,
the land that God had promised to Abraham and his seed:
will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name
great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and
curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be
a marvelous promise, Abraham's descendants would inherit a land and become a
great nation. The promise was given to Abraham, and then to Isaac, and then
Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Joshua and David, and throughout the history
of Israel. Not only would the Jews be blessed but all the nations of the world.
1000 years after King David, the Lord Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham, came to
this earth and laid down his life so that all the nations of the world could be
blessed. The people of God today are those who, by faith, conquer the enemy and
inherit the promised land of the Kingdom of God.
Historical Background. After Moses led the children of
Israel out of Egypt through the Red Sea, they made their journey through the
great and terrrible wilderness. They came to the border of the promised land but
did not have the faith to believe God's promises and enter the land. God told
Moses to let that whole generation die in the wilderness and it would be their
children who would actually inherit the promise and conquer the land of Canaan.
Finally when Moses died he commanded Joshua to lead people. The children of
Israel crossed the Jordan River and conquered the promised land under the
leadership of Joshua. They defeated 33 kings in seven years. After this the
leaders of each tribe came to Shiloh and they cast lots to determine which part
of the land was apportioned to their tribe. The promised land was finally
divided up among the 12 tribes of Israel in fulfillment to God's promises to
The 12 Sons of Jacob.
Note: Jacob had 12 sons and they were promised an inheritance in the land of
The 12 Tribes.
Note: Since the tribe of Levi did not recieve a territorial inheritance the
tribe of Joseph was divided into two sections (a double blessing for Jacob's
son): Ephraim and Manasseh to equal a total of 12 tribes.
Joshua. Joshua was the man that Moses chose as his
successor and to lead the Israelites into the promised land. Joshua is first
seen in the Bible as a strong military leader in a battle against the Amalekites
at Rephidim. This happened early during the time of the wandering in the
wilderness. When the children of Israel arrived at the promised land at Kadesh,
they sent 12 spies to survey the land of Canaan to determine what they were up
against. 10 of the spies gave a fearful report, but Joshua and Caleb encouraged
the Israelites to go up and take the land that God had promised them. Later
Joshua led the tribes across the Jordan River, near Jericho, and conquered the
Land of Canaan in a period of seven years and divided it between the remaining 9
1/2 tribes. Earlier Moses had divided the land east of the Jordan (Transjordan)
between 2 1/2 tribes as they requested (Numbers 32). During the last request of
Moses before his death he instructed Joshua to help Eleazar the priest in the
allotment of the promised land. At the end of Joshua's life he summoned all of
Israel to gather at Shechem. He gave them a reminder of all the mighty works
that God had done on their behalf, and he charged them to remain faithful to the
LORD. Joshua closed his speech with the famous statement, "choose you this day
whom ye will serve,? But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Crossing the Jordan River. Getting the people across the
Jordan River was no easy task. It was a very large raging river and the water
was full because of the flooding season. The children of Israel were very
numerous, not to mention their large flocks and herds. Joshua sought the Lord
and requested that the priests were to carry the Ark of the Covenant across the
river first and lead the way. Then the people were to follow. As they rose up in
faith they enter the water in the river parted before them. They stood in the
middle of the river as all the people passed, and after they safely cross to the
other side the waters returned back to their place. Joshua told the the tribal
leader of each of the 12 tribes to pick up a stone from the river. Joshua
gathered all the stones and erected a memorial to remind them and their children
of how God brought them safely across the Jordan River into the promised land.
The Canaanites. The people of the land of Canaan were
called "Canaanites" and they were made up of seven great and powerful nations.
Canaan was the great grandson of Ham (Noah's son), and the Canaanites were his
descendents. They were very wicked in the eyes of God and their religion was
based on idolatry, human sacrifice, temple prostitution, and many other corrupt
things. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah, the wicked place that God destroyed during
the time of Abraham. God said in the Bible that the wickedness of the Canaanites
had become so great that if they were not destroyed the land itself would vomit
them out. The LORD sent Israel to do just that, to destroy them and not leave a
trace, lest their wicked ways become adopted by the Israelites.
Baal. The most famous of the Canaanite gods was Baal, and
there were many high places on the hilltops, and groves in the wooded areas
where people worshiped and sacrificed their children to Baal. Nearly every
temple of Baal that has been discovered by archaeologists was first dedicated
with an offering of a firstborn son.
Conquering the Land of Canaan. God, is the great Judge
of the universe, and he brought judgment upon the wicked people in the land of
Canaan. He told the Israelites to completely destroy them and their neighbors.
Joshua was the man chosen to fulfill God's command. He led the Israelites to the
Jordan River, and the river parted for them and they crossed with all the people
and all their flocks and possessions. Joshua was the great commander, and they
first attacked the city of Jericho(Joshua 6). Then they conquered Ai (Joshua 8).
They would've destroyed Gibeon next but the Gibeonites were shrewd and deceive
the Israelites into allying with them (Joshua 9). This was very strategic for it
gave them the whole Western portion of the land as a rallying point to defeat
the rest. Next they attacked the South and defeated Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron
(Joshua 11). After this they moved to the north into the area of the Galilee
region and conquered the powerful city of Hazor with their mighty chariots and
took a very large territory. (Joshua 11). The conquest of the land continued but
not all the land was conquered, and the wicked nations that were not conquered
became a thorn in Israel side in their history. Once the Israelites conquered
enough land they divided it among the tribes of Israel.
Note: it is interesting that archaeology confirms the time
period and many of the events that happened on these military campaigns.
The Tribes Portions. The territories allotted to the
tribes were chosen from the drawing of lots, and these were the territories from
North to South:
Asher. The tribe of Asher was given the land along the
northern coast with all of its lush green plains, a 12 mile wide strip
stretching from the Leontes River north of the famous Phoenician city of Tyre to
the upper parts of the Plain of Sharon below the foot of Mount Carmel. Some of
the cities were Tyre and Dor, and Mount Carmel was also within its region.
Naphtali. The tribe of Naphtali was given the land next
to the northern portion of Asher with all of its fertile hills. Running from the
Leontes River in the North down to Mount Tabor and then eastward to the upper
Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee (Chinnereth). Some of the cities were Hazor
Zebulun. The tribe of Zebulun was given the portion of
land to the south of Asher and Naphtali.
Issachar. The tribe of Issachar was given the area just
to the east of Zebulun and south of Naphtali.
Manasseh. The tribe of Manasseh was given a very large
area of land to the south and bordering Asher, Zebulun and Issachar. It
stretched from the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Jordan River on the
east. The beautiful plain of Sharon famous for its "lily of the valleys" and
roses "Rose of Sharon"was within the boundaries of Manasseh.
Ephraim. The tribe of Ephraim was allotted the area
south of Manasseh and stretching from the Jordan River on the east almost to the
hills before the Mediterranean Sea on the west.
Dan. The tribe of Dan was given a small portion of land
to the west and south of Ephraim. Its western border was the Mediterranean Sea.
During that time Dan was not able to defeat the people on the coastal plains,
which was the main portion of the land given to them, and since the hills were
not big enough to contain them many of them went to the northern portion of the
Jordan River and defeated the city of Laish. They changed its name to Dan and
dwelt in this area.
Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin was allotted a small
portion of land to the south of Ephraim. Its eastern border was the Jordan
Judah. The tribe of Judah was allotted a very large
portion of land below Dan and Benjamin. It extended from the Mediterranean Sea
at the Vale of Sorek eastward through Jerusalem and over to the western coast of
the Dead Sea (Salt Sea). the southern boundary was the Wilderness of Paran. The
entire territory was beautiful, and it was great for farming from the rich
coastal plain for grain, to the fertile hills (Shephelah) for olives and grapes,
and the mountains which descended quickly down to the Dead Sea.
Simeon. The tribe of Simeon was very small and lived
within the southern portion of Judah, in the South country "Negev" sharing with
Judah the cities in the most southern portion of the land.
The Levites. The portion allotted to the Levites
(Descendants of Levi) was the right to 48 cities that were scattered throughout
the lands within all the tribal portions. The Levites were set aside as the
priestly tribe, they were servants of the LORD to instruct the people in the
things of God. They were also in charge of the Tabernacle, it's holy vessels,
and the Ark of the Covenant.
Joshua. Joshua was rewarded by the Levites for his
leadership and given a city of his own, it was called Timnath-serah which was a
small insignificant place located in the hills of Ephraim. It was not until
after the tribes received their portions that Joshua accepted his. It was here
at Timnath-serah that the great leader Joshua died at 110 years old.
Shiloh. Shiloh was the place where lots were drawn and
the land was divided among the tribes of Israel. Before Joshua died he chose the
city of Shiloh to be a center for the worship of the LORD. it was here that the
first city was built, the Tabernacle was erected, and the Ark of the Covenant
The 12 Tribes. The fact that there were 12 tribes was
no accident, and the fact that there were 12 disciples of Jesus was no accident.
The number 12 is seen in the Hebrew culture as a number of order and government.
God made the promise long beforehand that he was going to raise up a people and
be their God, their invisible King. He did this with the 12 sons of Jacob, and
later Jacob's name was changed to Israel. The children of Israel knew that they
were all the people of God, they were all descendants of the sons of Jacob. Each
"tribe" was made up of individual households, and all the households formed a
family, and then all the families formed a tribe.
Joshua 7:14 - "In the morning therefore ye shall be brought
according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh
shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD
shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take
shall come man by man."
The two Hebrew words for "tribe" both mean a sceptor or
staff. Each tribe had authority and distinction from the other tribes,
yet all the tribes were connected as a whole, they were all the people of God.
By the time the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt they all knew what
tribe, family, and household they were part of. In the days that Christ walked
the earth his name would have been "Yeshua Ben Yosef" because Jesus was of the
household of Joseph, yet he always referred to himself as the "son of God."
The People of God. The concept of God having a people
who know him and serve him goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when the
LORD mentioned that there would put "enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed." Every person in the world is either following
God, or they are following the world which Satan rules. The whole earth is
invited to be part of the people of God, and Jesus shows us the way.
The study of the 12 Tribes of Israel is very important in the study of the
Bible, let's pray:
Dear Jesus, we thank you for the story of Joshua and the
twelve tribes. We are so excited to see the faith, courage and devotion of
people who you called to serve you. Help us to be strong and courageous in
everything. We love you. In Jesus name? Amen!
Map of the 12 Tribes of Israel for Bible Study
Kid's Bible Maps
The Geography of the Bible
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