Tribe of Zebulun

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According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Zebulun (alternatively rendered as Zabulon, Zabulin, Zabulun, Zebulon; Hebrew: זְבוּלֻן, Modern Zvulun Tiberian Zəḇûlūn ; "Dwelling; habitation") was one of the Tribes of Israel.

Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE[1], Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. The territory it was allocated was at the southern end of the Galilee, with its eastern border being the Sea of Galilee, the western border being the Mediterranean Sea, the south being bordered by the Tribe of Issachar, and the north by Asher on the western side and Naphtali on the eastern. (Joshua 19:10-16)

Contents

Origin

According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of descendants of Zebulun, the sixth son of Jacob and Leah, from whom it took its name. Some Biblical scholars, however, view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation.[2] With Leah as a matriarch, Biblical scholars believe the tribe to have been regarded by the text's authors as a part of the original Israelite confederation.

Character

In the ancient Song of Deborah, Zebulun are described as sending to the battle those that handle the sopher shebet. Traditionally this has been interpreted as referring to the rod of the scribe, an object that in Assyrian monuments was a stylus of wood or metal used to inscribe clay tablets, or to write on papyrus; as such, the ones who wielded it would have been the associates/assistants of lawgivers[3]. Consequently, in Jewish tradition, the tribe of Zebulun was considered to have a symbiotic relationship with the tribe of Issachar, its neighbour and a tribe that traditionally was seen as having many scholars, whereby Zebulun would financially support Issachar's devotion to study and teaching of the Torah, in exchange for a share of the spiritual reward from such learning; the terms Issachar and Zebulun came to be used by Jews for anyone engaged in such a relationship. More recent scholarship, as expressed for example in translations such as the Revised Standard Version, instead render the description in the Song of Deborah of the people sent to battle by Zebulun as those who handle the marshal's staff; in other words, Zebulun had simply sent military officers.

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