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Zebulun

In the Book of Genesis, Zebulun was the sixth son of Leah and Jacob. He was also the leader of the Tribe of Zebulun in Israel. Based on studies, his name was taken from “zbl”, which was a Northwest Semitic root, and it was commonly used in Ugaritic texts as a title given to the god Baal. He is located on the Bible Timeline Poster around 1704 BC.

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Zebulun
Map of Zebulun’s locations

Meaning Behind the Name

There are two etymologies or origins for Zebulun’s name, according to the Torah. The first etymology of his name was taken was zebed, or “gift”, as Leah considered the fact that having six sons was God’s gift to her. The name also originated from yizbeleni, which means “honor”. This means, Leah is hoping that she would soon obtain honor from Jacob for having given birth and raised six sons. Another etymology is possible for this name, based on the Book of Deuteronomy. The authors believed that the name has some relevance to the word zibhe, which means “sacrifice”. The basis for this etymology is the commercial activity that the tribe of Zebulun was familiar for. In particular, it pertained to the agreement that existed between some non-Israelites and the Tribe of Zebulun, at Mount Tabor. This agreement was called the zibhe-tzedek or “sacrifice to Tzedek”.

About the Tribe of Zebulun

The tribe was among one of the key figures in Israel’s early history. In fact, during the census that was held in the Sinai Desert, there were about 57,400 men in the Tribe of Zebulun. These men were also considered to be ready for battle because of the size and appearance of the Army. Eliab was the head of this army, and he ordered his men to encamp at the east portion of the Tabernacle, with Issachar and Judah. Also, Gaddiel was one of the spies who went to Canaan, as ordered by Moses. Gaddiel served as one of the representatives of Zebulun. Another census took place in Shittim, which was in Moab. This was after the slaying of 24,000 men, who were killed because of their crime. Based on the census, the Tribe of Zebulun already had 60,500 men fit for the war.

In the Book of Numbers, Elizaphan was appointed as the representative Zebulun during the division that existed in the Promised Land. There was another account of the tribe when it was mentioned in the Song of Deborah. According to the text, the tribe was described as courageous men who spared their lives in the Merom region. They were also praised for their bravery, and that they led the entire army to a battle. In the Book of Chronicles, there were at least 50,000 brave men from the Tribe of Zebulun, who all followed David to make him as the king. These men also brought along a good supply of meat and beverages to feast and be merry about the leadership of the newly appointed ruler. Eventually, the tribe’s territory was seized by the Assyrians. Thus, the Tribe of Zebulun was in exile, and that signaled the end of this mighty tribe in history.

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