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Twelve Tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel or Tribes of Israel (Hebrew: שבטי ישראל‎‎) were the tribes said by the Hebrew Bible to have descended from the patriarch Jacob (who was later named Israel). Jacob had 12 sons and at least one daughter (Dinah) by two wives and two concubines. According to the biblical tradition, the twelve sons fathered the twelve tribes of Israel.

Before his death, Jacob blessed or foretold the destiny of each of his sons, the editor concluding: All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.

The tribes were:

Jacob elevated the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph and his Egyptian wife Asenath) to the status of full tribes in their own right, replacing the tribe of Joseph.

In the Bible's version of events, the period from conquest of the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel passed with the tribes forming a loose confederation, described in the book of Judges, living in the midst of the other nationalities who continued to occupy Canaan and its surrounding areas. Modern scholarship has called into question the beginning, middle, and end of this picture. The account of the conquest under Joshua has largely been abandoned. The Bible's depiction of the 'period of the Judges' is widely considered doubtful. The extent to which a united Kingdom of Israel ever existed is also a matter of ongoing dispute.

Living in exile in the sixth century BC, the prophet Ezekiel has a vision for the restoration of Israel which will include "the ideal reallotment of the land to the twelve tribes of Israel".



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