Sunday, November 01, 2009

What about the Missing Tribes?

Here's a riddle:

I noticed something during the reading of the passage from the Apocalypse for All Saints' Day this morning (Revelation 7:1-17), in which twelve thousand are numbered from each of twelve tribes of Israel.

The tribes listed by name don't correspond actually to the twelve tribes of Israel. Recall first that the tribe of Levi didn't get a land assignment, being the priests, so the tribe of Joseph was divided into Ephraim and Manasseh, his two sons, thus bring the total to twelve. But in the naming of tribes in this reading, we have Levi listed, as well as Joseph, and Manasseh. Thus two tribes are left out: Dan and Ephraim.

So, how come?


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Dr. Louis Brighton says this in his commentary:

John gives no explanation for these differences between his list and those in the OT. However, certain conclusions can be surmised. Judah is probably mentioned first because the Messiah came from this tribe. Dan is missing probably because it was in this tribe that graven images were erected, so that Dan became associated with idolatry. . . . Ephraim was connected with this apostasy and idolatry because it was in league with Dan (Judg 17:1-13; cf. Judg 18:1-8, 18). . . . It is clear that a redefined list of the twelve tribes of Israel is used in Rev 7:5-8: a list that has been cleansed of any association with apostasy and idolatry; a list that emphasizes faithfulness to God, hence the inclusion of Joseph and Levi; and in particular a list that focuses on the Messiah because of the placement of Judah. (192)

Fr BFE said...

not bad