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Israel, The Twelve Tribes of

The name Israel first appeared in Genesis 32:28 after Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel and reiterated in Genesis 35:9 with a promise of great blessings. Jacob was given the name Israel which in Hebrew means ‘he struggles with God’ and the group of people descended from him were called Israelites. The Twelve Tribes of Israel is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart between 1254 BC – 1004 BC. 

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Division of Tribal Lands in Canaan

The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the Sinai desert before they were allowed by God to defeat the Canaanites who had already settled in the land. By mid-1200 BC and under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites had conquered most of the Promised Land, and the displaced ethnic groups included the following:

* Girgashites
* Amorites
* Canaanites
* Perizzites
* Hivites
* Jebusites (although this tribe was still in Jerusalem during the time of David [2 Samuel 5:6])

Joshua 14 gives us a detailed account of the division of lands between the tribes of Israel. With the exemption of the tribe of Levi, who received only towns for their livestock to graze in due to their duty as priests (Numbers 18:24). Joseph received his inheritance through his sons Manasseh and Ephraim, who were claimed by Jacob as his.

This geographical division of land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel existed from the period when judges ruled the land and into the reign of Israel’s kings. Some of the tribes or nations that remained in the area and bordered the land of the Israelites were the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites who most of the time opposed and made war with the Israelites.

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