12 Tribes of Israel

Jacob had 12 sons by four different mothers. Sometimes these sons are listed in their birth order, but frequently in the Old Testament they are listed in differing orders. And sometimes different sons or grandsons are included in the listing. Often the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, Jacob’s grandsons, are included and Joseph’s name is omitted. That would make 13, but often in such lists that include the grandsons, Levi’s name is also omitted.

In the New Testament, there is a listing of the Twelve tribes in Rev.7 and unusually there Levi’s name is included but Dan’s name is excluded (and both Joseph and Manasseh are in the list).

There is no clear reason for the different composition of the varying names in the list. Sometimes birth order prevails and that simplifies our understanding of the purpose. Sometimes the failings of one or other of the sons may have resulted in them losing normal priority in the list. Sometimes the list reflects who the mothers were rather than the birth order.

It would seem helpful to be able to review all the lists side-by-side, so that any more obvious similarities or explainable differences might help in understanding the reasons for the variety.

So here are the different lists of the 12 tribes in various Scriptures (there are 27 columns and rows, so scroll to see complete data)

Ordering of the Twelve Tribes (Scripture Lists)
Gen. 29:32-35:18Gen.35:22-26Gen.46:8-25Gen.49:3-27Ex. 1:2-5 (see partial repeat at Ex.6:14-16)Num. 1:5-15Num.2:3-31Num.7:12-82Num.10:11-28Num.13:4-15Num.26:4-51Num.34:19-28Deut.27:12-13Deut.33:6-25Josh.13:7-22:34Josh.18-19Josh.21Judg.5:12-181 Chron. 2:1-21 Chron. 4:1-8:401 Chron. 12:24-371 Chron. 27:16-22Ezek.48:1-7,23-28,31-34 Rev.7:5-8
Mother:NameBirth OrderBy wifeThe 70Jacob's BlessingTo EgyptWilderness Census Heads of HousesCampsTabernacle Offerings by ChiefsOrder of MarchSpies2nd Census at JordanMoses Dividing the Land (exc. West)Blessing (B) & Cursing (C)Moses' BlessingLand AllottedRemaining AllotmentLevi's CitiesDeborah's SongDavid's Royal LineOther LinesDavid's TroopsDavid's tribal leadersFuture Allotment North to South144,000Name
LeahReuben1111114 South4411West of Jordan7 C121051312162Reuben
Simeon2222225 South552221 BMissed922222297Simeon
Levi33333N/A7 CentreN/AAfter GadN/A13Missing2 B34N/A3633Holy Portion8Levi
Judah4444431 East113413 B251411471Judah
BilhahDan571178911 North1010910411 C9147567Missing10121MissingDan
Naphtali68121091213121211121012 C10136991099735Naphtali
ZilpahGad797810116 South66123West of Jordan8 C831111413Missing123Gad
Asher810891110121111101199 C1112587121211Misssing24Asher
LeahIssachar9556542 East224584 B7114745775109Issachar
Zebulun10665653 East3376710 C6103123 & 86Missing861110Zebulun
RachelJoseph11Unborn (would be 11)911There6 & 7 Ephraim & Manasseh8 & 9 Ephraim & Manasseh7 Ephraim 8 Manasseh7 Ephraim 8 Manasseh5 Ephraim 8 Manasseh7 Manasseh 8 Ephraim5 Manasseh 6 Ephraim5 B51 Manasseh 1/2 tribe; 6 Ephraim 7 Manasseh 1/2 tribe4 Ephraim 6 Manasseh1 Ephraim85 Manasseh 1/2 tribe 10 Manasseh 11 Ephraim5 Ephraim 6 Manasseh 14 Manasseh 1/2 tribe8 Ephraim 9 & 10 Manasseh4 Manasseh 5 Ephraim6 Manasseh 11 Joseph (Ephraim)Joseph
Benjamin12Unborn (would be 12)10127810996936 B4813298411812Benjamin
Rev.7 likely not related to tribal size, because same number drawn from each
May be possible to track the Lord's ministry journeys through tribal lands to assess comparison (in reverse order), but unlikely because Levi included
Appealing to relate to loyalty of David's mighty men, but not in same order as Rev.7 (even though it is difficult to show tribe of each one)
Joshua's order of stones in Jordan/Gilgal, and Elijah's at Mount Carmel are not disclosed

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