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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Tribe

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Jacob having twelve sons, who were the heads of so many great families, which altogether formed a great nation; every one of these families was called a tribe. But Jacob on his death bed adopted Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, and would have them also to constitute two tribes of Israel, Genesis 48:5 . Instead of twelve tribes, there were now thirteen, that of Joseph being divided into two. However, in the distribution of lands to each which Joshua made by the order of God, they counted but twelve tribes, and made but twelve lots. For the tribe of Levi, which was appointed to the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, had no share in the distribution of the land, but only some cities in which to dwell, and the first fruits, tithes, and oblations of the people, which was all their subsistence. The twelve tribes continued united under one head, making but one state, one people, and one monarchy, till after the death of Solomon. Then ten of the tribes of Israel revolted from the house of David, and received for their king Jeroboam, the son of Nebat; and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin continued under the government of Rehoboam.

This separation may be looked upon as the chief cause of those great misfortunes that afterward happened to those two kingdoms, and to the whole Hebrew nation. For first, it was the cause of the alteration and change of the old religion, and of the ancient worship of their forefathers. Jeroboam the son of Nebat substituted the worship of golden calves for the worship of the true God; which was the occasion of the ten tribes forsaking the temple of the Lord. Secondly, this schism caused an irreconcilable hatred between the ten tribes, and those of Judah and Benjamin, and created numerous wars and disputes between them. The Lord, being provoked, delivered them up to their enemies. Tiglath-Pileser first took away captive the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Naphtali, and the half tribe of Manasseh, which were beyond Jordan, and carried them beyond the Euphrates, 2 Kings 15:29 ; 1 Chronicles 5:26 ; A.M. 3264. Some years after, Shalmaneser king of Assyria took the city of Samaria, destroyed it, took away the rest of the inhabitants of Israel, carried them beyond the Euphrates, and sent other inhabitants into the country to cultivate and possess 2 Kings 17:6 ; 2 Kings 18:10-11 . Thus ended the kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel, A.M. 3283. As to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who remained under the government of the kings of the family of David, they continued a much longer time in their own country. But at last, after they had filled up the measure of their iniquity, God delivered them all into the hands of their enemies. Nebuchadnezzar took the city of Jerusalem, entirely ruined it, and took away all the inhabitants of Judah and Benjamin to Babylon, and the other provinces of his empire, A.M. 3416. The return from this captivity is stated in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. See JEWS .


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Tribe'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/t/tribe.html. 1831-2.

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