Twelve Tribes of Israel

Rev 7 5-8

Q. Why is the list of the twelve tribes of Israel in Rev 7:5-8 (Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin) different from other places in the Bible? Where is Dan? What about Ephraim?

A. The list in birth order includes Levi, Dan and Joseph. However, Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons (Gen 37:3), and gave him a double portion for his inheritance by adopting Joseph’s sons as his own:
Gen 48:5 Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.

By replacing Joseph with Ephraim and Manasseh, the list becomes 13. But God chose the sons of Levi to serve in the tabernacle and they have no inheritance among the sons of Israel:
Num 18:23-24 Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’
So Levi received no land and the list becomes 12 again.

In Rev 7, both Dan and Ephraim were dropped because of idolatry:
Judg 18:30 The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
• 1 Kgs 12:28-29 So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
• 2 Kgs 10:29 However, as for the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, even the golden calves that were at Bethel and that were at Dan.
• Hosea 4:17 Ephraim is joined to idols; Let him alone.

Bethel was allotted to Ephraim:
Josh 16:1 Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel.
So Dan housed the graven image and together with Ephraim the golden calves which led Israel into idolatry and were disqualified. Joseph therefore replaced Ephraim to retain the double portion. Dan was replaced by Levi, possibly because land inheritance is no longer the issue and the Levites will share in eternal blessings.
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

God rewards everyone according to what he has done, both good and bad:
2 Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
• Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

Prophet, Priest, King (1 of 6)

prophet priest king 4

I have a friend who studies the Bible in detail. He has some non-traditional interpretations and asked for my opinion. Since his question reflects the fact that he had done a lot of thinking on the subject, I thought it would be best to present his query as is, section by section, then add the comments I have. His question is in italics:

The fulfillment of the threefold messianic roles (king, priest and prophet) by Jesus helps to explain some strange events / records in the gospels, e.g.
a) the necessity of Virgin Birth, so that He could satisfy Zech 6:12-13 by resolving the role conflict of both King and Priest (couldn’t be both descendant of Judah and of Levi; Heb 7:14), through following the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4), no fatherly genealogy and no beginning / end (Heb 7:3);

First, let’s observe the verses cited:
• Zech 6:12-13 Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”’
• Heb 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.
• Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
• Heb 7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

To clarify the issue, to sit on the throne the Branch must be descended from David (2 Sam 7:16), of the tribe of Judah. To be a Levitical priest He must be descended from Aaron (Ex 28:1), from the tribe of Levi. How can He be descended from two tribes at the same time? Actually to satisfy both requirements all He has to be is to belong to a different priesthood, since Zech 6 did not specify Levitical at all. Priesthood according to the order of Melchizedek, an order higher than Aaron since it is forever, would satisfy that. The Virgin Birth is not necessary if we boil the dilemma down to its irreducible minimum.

(To be continued)