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Jacob had 2 wives, Rachel and Leah (who were sisters, and first-cousins of Jacob), and 2 concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah, an apparently common and accepted practice of the day. Rachel and Leah did not object to the other two women because it was their idea to have more children with them (Genesis 30:3,9).


  • Rachel - Jacob's favorite wife. She died while giving birth to Benjamin and is buried at Bethlehem. Her children were Joseph and Benjamin.
    • Joseph - 11th-born overall. Definitely his father's favorite son, from his favorite wife, it was Joseph who was sold for slavery into Egypt by his jealous brothers.  There, with God's help, he rose to become the highest official of the Pharaoh, saving the nation from the famine that was prophesied. When the rest of Jacob's family moved to Egypt to escape the famine, it was Joseph who had made their survival possible (they would remain in Egypt 400 years, eventually becoming slaves until the Exodus). While there, Joseph had 2 sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were themselves made into individual tribes of Israel to bring the number back to 12 - the priestly tribe of Levi was not counted separately, but was absorbed among the other tribes.
      • Ephraim - Younger than Manasseh, he was never the less ranked higher in the family structure (Genesis 48:19). His descendants were to become a great future group of nations.
      • Manasseh - 1st-born of Joseph, he was prophesied to become a great single nation.
    • Benjamin – From Hebrew meaning son of my right hand was the youngest of the 12 sons. Rachel died while giving him birth. The apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament, is descended from Benjamin.
  • Leah - It seems that Jacob did not have a great deal of love for her, perhaps because she became his wife by deception (Genesis 29:16-30). Never the less, Leah is the mother of the greatest number of the Tribes of Israel, and is today buried with Jacob (along with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah) in the high-tension area of The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Her children are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Israel's only recorded daughter, Dinah.
    • Reuben - 1st-born overall. He was disqualified from his position as eldest son when he committed an act of sexual immorality with Jacob's concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). It was Reuben who saved Joseph's life from them (Genesis 37:21-22), however before he could return Joseph home, the others sold him to Midianite merchants who were on their way to Egypt.  When the Israelites settled in Egypt to escape the famine, Reuben took 4 sons with him (Genesis 46:9). When the Exodus took place 400 years later, the Reubenites totaled 151,450 (Numbers 1:21, 2:16). After the Exodus, the Reubenites made a covenant with Moses to occupy an area of Gilead, east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.  The Reubenites became a powerful tribe (1 Chronicles 5:1-19) who later sent a large force to support King David (1 Chronicles 12:37). The Reubenites were oppressed in the time of Jehu (2 Kings 10:32-34 and were later taken into captivity by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:25-26) where they, along with the others of the northern kingdom, became one of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.
    • Simeon - 2nd-born overall. Simeon was fierce toward his enemies e.g. he and his full-brother Levi slaughtered Hamor and the Shechemites after the violation of Simeon and Levi's sister Dinah. His loyalty to his family was at times opportunistic, he joined with his brothers in selling their brother Joseph to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt (Genesis 37:12-28). For that, he was later, after Joseph's rise to power in Egypt, temporarily held as a hostage (Genesis 42:24). After the Israelites crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, the offspring of Simeon, the tribe of Simeon, were allotted the territory in the south of the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which included the cities of Beersheba  and Arid.
    • Levi - 3rd-born overall. From Levi came the Levites who were dedicated to God's service. As such, they were later not counted as a separate tribe. Moses and Aaron and John the Baptist were descended from Levi.
    • Judah - 4th-born overall. Perhaps the most famous of Jacob's sons, it was from Judah that the Jews are descended. Jesus Christ and most Christians in the earliest days of the church, were descended from Judah. A vital element for understanding Bible Prophecy is that while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews (just the same as all Belgians are Europeans, but not all Europeans are Belgians). There are many millions of people around the world today who are Israelites, but are not Jews. Had land
    • Issachar - From the Hebrew word perhaps meaning hireling, or reward was the 9th-born overall. The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Iob, and Shimron.
    • Zebulun - From the Hebrew word meaning dwelling, or habitation was the 10th-born overall.
    • Dinah - Israel's only daughter.
  • Bilhah - Rachel's maid, it was Rachel's idea that Jacob have children with her (Genesis 30:3-6). Her children were Dan and Naphtali.
    • Dan - 5th-born overall. The tribe of Dan is not mentioned in Rev 7:5-8. The tribe Dan was omitted because that tribe was early devoted to idolatry, and continued idolatrous to the time of the captivity. The omission of Dan is explained to some extent Judges 18:30 and Genesis 49:17-18; and that fact seems to be a sufficient reason for the omission of the name. Dan died during captivity with Egypt. After retirning to the promise land, the Danites found the land allotted to them too small and went and conquered Leshem renaming it to Dan. Some references say the tribe of Dan was extinct at the time when the Revelations which was around 95 A. D. Judges 18:30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. Genesis 49:17-18 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord. KJV
    • Naphtali - 6th-born overall.
  • Zilpah - Leah's maid, it was Leah's idea that Jacob have children with her (Genesis 30:9). Her children were Gad and Asher.
    • Gad - 7th-born overall.
    • Asher - From the Hebrew name pronounced aw-share means happy was the 8th-born overall.


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