Appendix M: The Twelve Tribes
From the book Reckoning of Time
The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. IV (1912: 423-424) summarizes the rabbinic expectations, which heavily influenced the Christian, of the role that an evil Danite would play in the time of the coming of the Messiah. Owing to the fact that his name, as the name of a tribe, is connected with the blasphemer (Lev_24:11) and with the idolatry of northern Yisra’el (Jdg_18:30; 1Ki_12:29; Amo_8:4), while Shimshon, the Judge of the tribe of Dan, proved faithless (Jdg_13:2).
But why is the tribe of Dan omitted from Revelation 7? In Genesis 49, Ya’akov gives deathbed prophecies to all his sons regarding their fate in the “last days” (Gen_49:1). The prophecy for the tribe of Dan explains the reason why he is not included in Revelation and thus the Scripture explains itself. We read in Gen_49:16:
Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
We should notice here that the name Dan means “judge” in Hebrew. Since one cannot be both a witness and a judge in a matter, according to the Torah, the tribe of Dan has probably been chosen to be the judge in this end-time situation, which changes the whole perception of Dan. However, the nature of Dan’s judgment is not detailed.
However, in Revelation 7, the tribe of Yoseph is mentioned together with Menashsheh, but Ephrayim is omitted, with Menashsheh replacing the tribe of Dan. This is very unusual because the two brothers always replace Yoseph so that Yoseph can receive a double portion among the tribes, as his father promised in Gen_48:22. But in this case Yoseph would receive triple portion, not double, would he not? In support of this, we need to notice that there are fifteen instances when the twelve tribes have been listed (Gen 35, Gen 36, Exo 1, Num_1:1-15, Num_1:20-43, Num 2, Num 13, Num 26, Num 34, Deu 27, Deu 33, Eze_48:1-29, Eze_48:30-35, and in Rev 7).
Genesis 35 Genesis 46 Genesis 49 Exodus 1
Reuben Reuben Reuben Reuben
Simeon Simeon Simeon Simeon
Levi Levi Levi Levi
Judah Judah Judah Judah
Issachar Issachar Zebulun Issachar
Zebulun Zebulun Issachar Zebulun
Joseph Gad Dan Benjamin
Benjamin Asher Gad Dan
Dan Joseph Asher Naphtali
Naphtali Benjamin Naphtali Gad
Gad Dan Joseph Asher
Asher Naphtali Benjamin (Joseph in Egypt)
Num_1:1-15 Num_1:20-43 Num. 2 Num. 13 Num. 26 Num. 34
Reuben Rueben Judah Reuben Reuben Reuben
Simeon Simeon Issachar Simeon Simeon Gad
Judah Gad Zebulun Judah Gad Judah
Issachar Judah Reuben Issachar Judah Simeon
Zebulun Issachar Simeon Ephraim Issachar Benjamin
Ephraim Zebulun Gad Benjamin Zebulun Dan
Manasseh Ephraim Ephraim Zebulun Manasseh Manasseh
Benjamin Manasseh Manasseh Manasseh Ephraim Ephraim
Dan Benjamin Benjamin Dan Benjamin Zebulun
Asher Dan Dan Asher Dan Issachar
Gad Asher Asher Naphtali Asher Asher
Naphtali Naphtali Naphtali Gad Naphtali Naphtali
Deu. 27 Deu. 33 Rev_7:4-8 Eze_48:1-29 Eze_48:30-35
Simeon Reuben Judah Dan Reuben
Levi Judah Reuben Asher Judah
Judah Levi Gad Naphtali Levi
Issachar Benjamin Asher Menashsheh Joseph
Joseph Joseph Naphtali Ephrayim Benjamin
Benjamin Zebulun Manasseh Reuben Dan
Reuben Issachar Simeon Judah Shimon
Gad Gad Levi Benjamin Yissaskar
Asher Dan Issachar Shimon Zebulun
Zebulun Naphtali Zebulun Yissaskar Gad
Dan Asher Joseph Zebulun Asher
Naphtali (Simeon omitted) Benjamin Gad Naphtali
In spite of the adoption of Menashsheh and Ephrayim, the Tanak clearly states that the number of tribes of Israel is twelve. This pattern remains consistent throughout. While the order and names counted may vary, the number of tribes always remains twelve. (In Exodus 1 Yoseph is not actually omitted because he was in Egypt; but Shimon is omitted in Deu 33.)
In seven of them the two sons of Yoseph replace their father but only in Rev_7:4-8 Yoseph is listed with one of his sons. Why? The answer can be only one—for prophetic reasons. Below is the hidden message in Revelation 7.
Gen_29:35 Yehudah, YHVH praised, “Now I praise YHVH.
Gen_29:32 Re’uvein, Behold a son; For YHVH has looked on my affliction.
Gen_30:11 Gad, Fortune; With Fortune
Gen_30:13 Asher, Happy; I am blessed.
Gen_30:8 Naphtali, My Wrestling, With great wrestlings I have wrestled and I have overcome.
Gen_41:51 Menashsheh, Causing to overlook For Elohim has made me forget all my toil
Gen_29:33 Shimon, Heard, Because YHVH has heard that I am unloved, He gave me this son too.
Gen_29:34 Levi, Joined, Now this time my husband will be joined to me,
Gen_30:18 Issaschar, He will bring a reward, Elohim has given me my wage,
Gen_30:20 Zevulun, Habitation , Elohim has presented me with a good gift. Now my husband will dwell with me.
Gen_30:24 Yoseph, YHVH has added, YHVH will add to me another son:
Gen_35:18 Binyamin, Son of the right hand, Son of my sorrow (Ben-Oni) and Son of my right hand (Binyamin)” [the suffering Messiah and the conquering Messiah]
If Yoseph is replaced back with Ephrayim in order to follow the same pattern, then the prophetic picture of the Messiah would be dramatically changed. Ephrayim’s name in Hebrew means: “For Elohim has caused me to bear fruit in the land of my affliction.”
The prophecy in Rev_7:4-8 is about the second coming of the conquering Messiah whom Israel is waiting in the land in the last days. Substitute Ephrayim for Yoseph, and you will get a distorted picture and a different prophecy: YHVH will add to me another son with Elohim has caused me to bear fruit in the land of my affliction (that is Egypt) and nothing will work out in the prophecy.
Notice also that Binyamin first was given the name Ben-Oni “my sorrow” by his dying mother but his father changed it to Binyamin “son of my right hand.” “Son of my right hand” is not to be understood literally because “my right hand” is a Hebraism meaning “my power, strength, authority.” That is to mean that the same person of Messiah first is to suffer, then is to be victorious.
Or, in the rabbinic writings, the tradition of two Messiahs as the Messiah son of Yoseph and Messiah son of David the king. Many ancient sages saw in the Scripture that the coming of the Messianic King would be preceded by a time of immense suffering when a faithful remnant of Israel is born into the Messianic age. They used two terms to describe the sufferings before the coming of King Messiah. The term Chevlo Shel Mashiach was used to describe the travail of the Messiah, while the term Chevlei Shel Mashiach was used to refer to the travail of Israel being born into the Messianic Kingdom.