Thank you Helge, you do make some really good points, but 12 does not count the tribe of Levi when assigning warrior duties nor are the tribes of Dan and Zebulon sometimes mentioned or counted! See;
There exists these words;
"by Charles Voss
I have been asked, “Why do you say there are thirteen tribes of Israel when everybody knows there are only twelve”?
The answer is that it depends on whether a person is referring to the actual number of tribes, or the number of tribes that received a land inheritance, or the number mentioned in the NT book of Revelation. To see it fully we will look at the Aid to Bible Understanding:
“The tribal arrangement in Israel was based on descent from the twelve sons of Jacob (Gen 29:32-30:24; 35:16-18). These “twelve patriarchal families" produced the “twelve tribes of Israel” (Gen 49:1-28). However, Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh the older and Ephraim the younger, and said: “Ephraim and Manasseh will become mine like [his actual sons] Reuben and Simeon” (Gen. 48:5, 13-20). When the various tribes received their land inheritance in the Promised Land (Josh. chaps. 13-19), there was no “tribe of Joseph.” Instead, “the sons of Joseph,” Manasseh and Ephraim were counted as distinct tribes in Israel, thus giving thirteen tribes.
“However, as ETERNAL had arranged this did not increase the tribes of Israel receiving an inheritance to thirteen, because the Levites got no land inheritance. ETERNAL had chosen the “tribe of Levi” (Num 1:49) in place of the firstborn of the other tribes and they became the priestly tribe (Ex 13:1-2; Num 3:6-13-41; Deut 10:8-9; 18:1).
“When Moses blessed the tribes (Deut 33:6-24) Simeon was not mentioned by name, perhaps because the tribe was greatly reduced in size and its land portion was to be enclosed in the territory of Judah. However, in Ezekiel’s vision of the "holy contribution" and the twelve tribes, the tribes listed are the same as those who received a land inheritance as given in the book of Joshua (Ezek 48:1-8, 23-28). The tribe of Levi was located within the “holy contribution” in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 48:9-14, 22.)”
When the tribe of Joseph is mentioned, Ephraim is usually mentioned immediately following. This shows that the name Ephraim was given preference. Thus, the phrase “The House of Ephraim” is frequently used to refer to the “House of Israel.” Notice in this series of verses Joseph and Ephraim are mentioned together whereas Manasseh is listed separately:
Num 1:32-33 “Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war. Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred:
Num 1:34 “Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war.
Another point is that Ephraim is linked with his father Joseph, whereas Manasseh is linked with his grandfather Jacob:
Num 1:10 “Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim (#H669); Elishama the son of Ammihud: of Manasseh (#H4519); Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.”
The English word “Ephraim” comes from the Hebrew word “'Ephrayim;” Strong’s (#H669) states that it means “double fruit; Ephraim, a son of Joseph; also the tribe descended from him, and its territory.”
Whereas the English word Manasseh comes from the Hebrew word “Menashsheh;” Strong’s (#H4519) states that it means “causing to forget; Menashsheh, a grandson of Jacob, also the tribe descending from him, and its territory.
Thus it is abundantly clear that Joseph was replaced by his two sons thus there are thirteen tribes and not twelve. The names of the thirteen tribes are stated in Numbers as Moses was taking a census of all that were able to go to war:
Num 1:21-45 “Reuben (the oldest son of Jacob) Simeon, Gad, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim (son of Joseph), Manasseh, Benjamin, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.
Num 1:47,50 “This total does not include the Levites, for ETERNAL had said to Moses, ‘ Exempt the entire tribe of Levi from the draft, and do not include their number in the census. ...For the Levites are assigned for the work connected with the Tabernacle and its transportation.’”
The number and names of the tribes in the book of Numbers differ from the verses throughout the New Testament and especially the book of Revelation where it is staunchly stated that there are only twelve. Moreover, in Revelations the Levites are counted among them with the tribe of Dan totally left out. One can only speculate as to why this difference and why there are twelve NT disciples and twelve gates mentioned in Revelation: 1) Maybe it is because the number thirteen is not divisible by four without a fractional answer. 2) Maybe it has to do with the twelve signs of the Zodiac since the wise men were astrologers and the worship of the sun god. Note from Scofield’s Notes for Mat 2:1:
"Wise men" is from the Greek a Persian word for men expert in the study of the stars. There is no evidence that these magi were only three in number or that they were kings. Their interest aroused by the star that signalized [the] birth.”
Since they were astrologers from the pagan countries to the East, they knew, believed in, and worshipped the sun god. They understood the twelve signs of the zodiac based on sun worship and the NT is about this subject. Here is riddle for you, “Matthew (2:1-2) states the ‘ wise men’ were from the EAST [of Jerusalem] and they saw the heralding star in the sky to their EAST”. So how did they follow it WEST to Jerusalem? Hmmm, maybe they were the first to circumvent the globe on camels. Not only that, but they did it in under two years, since it is said that Herod killed all the babies under age two.
But regardless of your arguments and whether you ‘ Believe it or Not’ there were thirteen actual tribes of Israel back then, and the same number of tribes are with us today."
Where you will see a good chart.
Where you will find;
"When Israel got to giving his final blessings to his 12 sons, he gave Joseph a "double portion" and then divided Joseph's "double portion" into two blessings, one for each of Joseph's two (half Egyptian) sons--Manasseh and Ephriam. When the children of Israel got to breaking up into tribes, the tribe of Joseph split into two along the lines of his two sons. There were, then, more correctly speaking, Thirteen Tribes of Israel. They were (in birth order):
(see Genesis 29:32 - 30:24; 35:18; 41:51-52; 48:13-22; cf. I Chron 5:1)
When the 13 Tribes were wandering around in the desert after leaving Egypt. Moses decided to do a census. We find the census in the book of Numbers (get it -- numbering the Children of Israel). Because the Tribe of Levi was the "priestly" tribe--that is, priests could only come from Levi, the members of the other tribes could not avail themselves of priestly functions, except by getting in touch with a Levite. Because the tribes were large in number and Moses wanted each tribe to reside in its own geographic area, it would be hard for a person to who need priestly attention to travel over to the camp of the Levites. Therefore, the Tribe of Levi was divided into twelve groups, with one group being assigned to each of the rest of the Twelve Tribes. Each of the other Twelve Tribes were obligated to support their 1/12th of the Tribe of Levi. From Moses's point of view, he only had to deal with Twelve administrative units. The Tribe of Levi no longer constituted an administrative unit--because their needs were taken care of by the host tribe. Thus we can now again talk about the Twelve Tribes of Israel, with the understanding that in this context the reference to Twelve Tribes excludes the Tribe of Levi. (See Numbers chapter 1, especially verse 49.)
John, the Revelator, saw in a vision 144,000 people being crowned with glory--12,000 from each of the Twelve Tribes. But guess what? He included Levi, but left out Dan! (He also referred to the Tribe of Ephriam as the Tribe of Joseph. (See Revelations 7:5-8.)
Let me summarize this section. There are four different definitions of the Tribes of Israel
The (original) Twelve Tribes (one tribe for each of the sons of Jacob)
The Thirteen Tribes (the Tribe of Joseph being split into Manasseh and Ephriam)
Moses's Twelve Tribes (the thirteen minus Levi), and
John's Twelve Tribes (including Levi and excluding Dan)."
So, just like the Zodiac, the real number seems to be 13 and not 12!
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© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.