The Twelve Tribes

Reuben

“May Reuben live and not die, Nor his men be few.” (Deut. 33:6)

Reuben, you are my firstborn; My might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch. (Genesis 49:3-4).

Judah

"And this regarding Judah; so he said, “Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people. With his hands he contended for them, and may You be a help against his adversaries.” (Deut. 33:7)

Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, and his teeth white from milk." (Genesis 49:8-12)

Simeon

Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." (Genesis 49:5-7)

Levi

"Of Levi he said, “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, whom You proved at Massah, with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah; Who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; And he did not acknowledge his brothers, nor did he regard his own sons, for they observed Your word, and kept Your covenant. They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar. O LORD, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they will not rise again.” (Deut. 33:8-11)

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence. Let my soul not enter into their council; let not my glory be united with their assembly; because in their anger they slew men, and in their self-will they lamed oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel." (Genesis 49:5-7)

Benjamin

"Of Benjamin he said, “May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him, who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders.” (Deut. 33:12)

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; in the morning he devours the prey, and in the evening he divides the spoil.” (Genesis 49:27)

Joseph

"Of Joseph he said, “Blessed of the LORD be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath, and with the choice yield of the sun, and with the choice produce of the months. And with the best things of the ancient mountains, and with the choice things of the everlasting hills, and with the choice things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. As the firstborn of his ox, majesty is his, and his horns are the horns of the wild ox; with them he will push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth. And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and those are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deut. 33:13-17)

Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; But his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers." (Genesis 49:22-26)

Zebulun

"Of Zebulun he said, “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going forth, and, Issachar, in your tents. They will call peoples to the mountain;  There they will offer righteous sacrifices; For they will draw out the abundance of the seas, And the hidden treasures of the sand.” (Deut. 33:18-19)

Zebulun will dwell at the seashore; and he shall be a haven for ships, and his flank shall be toward Sidon." (Genesis 49:13)

Issachar

Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds. When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor." (Genesis 49:14-15)

Gad

"Of Gad he said, “Blessed is the one who enlarges Gad;  He lies down as a lion, and tears the arm, also the crown of the head. Then he provided the first part for himself, for there the ruler’s portion was reserved; and he came with the leaders of the people; He executed the justice of the LORD, and His ordinances with Israel.” (Deut. 33:21-22)

“As for Gad, raiders shall raid him, but he will raid at their heels. As for Asher, his food shall be rich, and he will yield royal dainties." (Genesis 49:19)

Dan

"Of Dan he said, “Dan is a lion’s whelp, that leaps forth from Bashan.” (Deut. 33:22)

Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward. For Your salvation I wait, O LORD." (Genesis 49:16-18)

Napthali

"Of Naphtali he said, “O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,  and full of the blessing of the LORD, take possession of the sea and the south.” (Deut. 33:23)

"Naphtali is a doe let loose, he gives beautiful words." (Genesis 49:21)

Asher

"Of Asher he said, “More blessed than sons is Asher;  May he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil. Your locks will be iron and bronze, and according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be. There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty.  The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, ‘Destroy!’ So Israel dwells in security, the fountain of Jacob secluded, in a land of grain and new wine; his heavens also drop down dew. Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, who is the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will tread upon their high places.” (Deut. 33:24-29)