Story of 12 Tribes
2 Timothy 2:2 – Hear, Entrust, Teach, Multiply!
It had been hundreds of years since Abraham entered Canaan. God unconditionally promised that the land he was traveling through would one day belong to his family forever. Following forty years of wilderness wandering, the deaths of millions of one-time Egyptian slaves, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had taken the land by force under Joshua’s leadership. One city at a time, Canaanite strongholds were destroyed by Israel. It took seven years. Then it was time to settle down, to make the land flowing with milk and honey their home!
On entering the land, thirty-one city strongholds were held by worshippers of demonically inspired idols. The combined army of Israel destroyed those cities. No one was to be left alive in them. The task of taking control of the territory over which those cities ruled was left to the individual tribes.
Jacob, later renamed Israel had twelve sons. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. After rising to power in Egypt, Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Because of how God had used Joseph to preserve his family, Joseph’s sons were allocated full tribal portions in the Promised Land.
The tribe of Levi, acting as the priestly tribe for everyone else, did not receive a territorial allotment. Instead they were given cities scattered throughout the other tribal areas. Other Levites took up residence at Shiloh. That was where the Tabernacle was erected, the people’s offerings were given, and their sacrifices were made.
Lastly, during the forty years of wilderness wandering, certain tribes saw the beauty of the land they were temporarily occupying. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh decided they wanted their portions of land to be on the eastern side of the Jordan River. The fighting men from those tribes were required to assist the other tribes in conquering the land west of the Jordan River. After the soldiers’ obligations were fulfilled, they returned to their families across the river.
Remember, in Hebrew, Joshua is Yeshua. Joshua led his people out of the wilderness to the Promised Land. Jesus, whose Hebrew name is also Yeshua, promises to take those who follow Him to a new Promised Land, even better than the first one.
Joshua was forty years old when God delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery. Moses trained him for the next forty years of his life. Faithfully serving God and his people, Joshua died when he was 120 years old, forty years later.
Talk Thru the Bible – OT Lessons
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Read Joshua 13:1-24:33
- After conquering the 31 stronghold cities of Canaan, Joshua allocates the tribal territories. Two and a half tribes take land east of the Jordan River. They are Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Mannaseh. Everyone else takes up their allotment west of the Jordan.
- Following 400 years of waiting, God fulfills His promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
- Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned to the eastern side of the Jordan River after the conquest of Canaan. Eventually, those tribes were assimilated into the pagan idolatry of the lands they took for themselves. Their identity was lost. What lessons can be learned from this sad fact?
- The tribes west of the Jordan retained their identity, but they too succumbed to idolatry and served other gods. Why was this so dangerous to every area of their lives?
Make an “I will” Statement.
- Based on your 12 Tribe study, what will you think, say, or do differently starting today?
- Who will you tell your “I will” statement to that will hold you accountable.