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Zilpah was a concubine of Jacob / Israel who became the mother of two of the tribes of Israel, Gad and Asher. Jacob had 2 wives, Rachel and Leah (who were sisters, and first-cousins of Jacob - see Jacob and Laban), and 2 concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah, an apparently common and accepted practice of the day. Rachel and Leah did not object to the other two women because it was their idea to have more children with them (Genesis 30:3,9).

The Mothers of The Israelites

Israelite Tribal Lands

  • Rachel
    Jacob's favorite wife. She died while giving birth to Benjamin and is buried at Bethlehem. Her children were Joseph and Benjamin.

    • Joseph
      The 11th-born overall. Definitely his father's favorite son, from his favorite wife, it was Joseph who was sold for slavery into Egypt by his jealous brothers (see Coat Of Many Colors and Potiphar). There, with God's help, he rose to become the highest official of the Pharaoh, saving the nation from the famine that was prophesied. When the rest of Jacob's family moved to Egypt to escape the famine, it was Joseph who had made their survival possible (they would remain in Egypt 400 years, eventually becoming slaves until the Exodus). While there, Joseph had 2 sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were themselves made into individual tribes of Israel to bring the number back to 12 - the priestly tribe of Levi was not counted separately, but was absorbed among the other tribes.

      • Ephraim
        Younger than Manasseh, he was never the less ranked higher in the family structure (Genesis 48:19). His descendants were to become a great future group of nations.

      • Manasseh
        The first-born of Joseph, he was prophesied to become a great single nation.

    • Benjamin
      The youngest of the 12 sons. Rachel died while giving him birth. The apostle Paul (see Paul's Ministry), who wrote much of the New Testament, is descended from Benjamin. See Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?

  • Leah
    It seems that Jacob did not have a great deal of love for her, perhaps because she became his wife by deception (Genesis 29:16-30). Never the less, Leah is the mother of the greatest number of the Tribes of Israel, and is today buried with Jacob (along with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah) in Hebron. Her children are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Israel's only recorded daughter, Dinah.

    • Reuben
      1st-born overall. He was disqualified from his position as eldest son when he committed an act of sexual immorality with Jacob's concubine Bilhah (Genesis 35:22).

    • Simeon
      2nd-born overall.

    • Levi
      3rd-born overall. From Levi came the Levites who were dedicated to God's service. As such, they were later not counted as a separate tribe. Moses and Aaron and John The Baptist were descended from Levi.

    • Judah
      4th-born overall. Perhaps the most famous of Jacob's sons, it was from Judah (i.e. "jew-dah") that the "Jews" are descended. Jesus Christ and most Christians in the earliest days of the church, were descended from Judah. A vital element for understanding Bible Prophecy is that while all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews (just the same as all Belgians are Europeans, but not all Europeans are Belgians). There are many millions of people around the world today who are Israelites, but are not Jews. See also When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah"

    • Issachar
      9th-born overall.

    • Zebulun
      10th-born overall.

    • Dinah
      Israel's only daughter. See Dinah

  • Bilhah
    Rachel's maid, it was Rachel's idea that Jacob have children with her (Genesis 30:3-6). Her children were Dan and Naphtali.

    • Dan
      5th-born overall.

    • Naphtali
      6th-born overall.

  • Zilpah
    Leah's maid, it was Leah's idea that Jacob have children with her (Genesis 30:9). Her children were Gad and Asher.

    • Gad
      7th-born overall.

    • Asher
      8th-born overall.

Fact Finder: What is meant by the Biblical term "daughter of Zion"?
See Daughter of Zion, also Who, What or Where Is Zion?

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