Why There Is No Tribe of Joseph

Posted on November 23, 2007. Filed under: Daily Journey |

In Gen.48:1-11 we find the answer to the question “Why is there no tribe of Joseph?” in the lists of the 12 tribes of Israel even though Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. As Israel draws near death we find Joseph taking his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, to their grandfather. Jacob recounts the covenant promise that God has given him and then proceeds to adopt Joseph’s two sons. This is giving a double portion to Joseph, the next to youngest of Israel’s sons, instead of giving it to the eldest son, Reuben, as the custom of the day would require. And even in this giving of the blessing to Manasseh and Ephraim, we will see in vss. 13-20 that Israel blesses Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph, with the larger blessing. This prophetic moment points to the tribe of Ephraim becoming the dominant tribe in Israel after Judah. In fact, the northern ten tribes are referred to in Scripture as either Israel or Ephraim and the southern kingdom is referred to as Judah.

Some might also point out that when you count the tribe of Levi you end up with 13 tribes in Israel instead of 12. Technically this is true but the Levites did not receive any territory, only cities scattered throughout Israel; their inheritance was the Lord.

But here is the biblical curve ball: Rev. 7:4-8 lists the 12 tribes as “every tribe of the sons of Israel” and it includes Manasseh, but not Ephraim or Dan, and includes Levi and the tribe of Joseph! This is the last listing of the 12 tribes in the Bible. This discussion of the 12 tribes is a bit deep and technical and is a rabbit I will decline to chase right now.

Other than being able to answer correctly when you play Bible Trivia, of what spiritual value is this passage? 1) It does confirm the prophetic nature of Scripture in that Jacob’s choice of Ephraim over Manasseh is borne out by history. 2) Supporting ancient texts confirm this kind of adoption process thus showing the Scriptures to be accurate and trustworthy. 3) We see the faithful Son, Joseph, receiving the double blessing. Joseph as a type of Christ points us to Jesus who had no physical descendants on this earth (contra Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code infamy), but whose spiritual offspring are too numerous to count as He received his Father’s blessing for accomplishing all he had been sent to do. 4) We see Jacob/Israel keeping the faith to the very end and passing on the covenant to his children’s children; oh what an example for us all to follow! May the Lord bless us with faithful children and grandchildren who will keep the Faith and serve the Lord til He comes again.


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15 Responses to “Why There Is No Tribe of Joseph”

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I was trying to find the “technical” answer to why Dan and ephrainm are missing from revelation and why levi and joseph are in. If you have a chance please explain. Thanks

Ephraim is there as bold as brass because Joseph and Ephraim (as the head tribe of Joseph) are used interchangeably (in the same way that Ephraim and 10-tribed-Israel are used interchangeably) .

Another explanation is that a scribal error occurred and Dan was substituted for Man(asseh).

At any rate, Ephraim is not absent – his being called Joseph simply accentuates his headship. Even if you do not accept this, Joseph implicitly includes Ephraim and Manasseh and if it represents both tribes (which i don’t believe) then you have a problem because Manasseh is getting 1½ portions.

Ephraim no longer exists because of its disobedience against the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Dan no longer exists because it was the first tribe to turn to Idolatry and thus the tribe of Joseph was reformed to take their place as noted in the Book of Revelations

Quite simple Rodney for let us not confuse ourselves with mans calculations but believe in what is written by the living word of God and just accept the final list of the of the twelve tribes of Israel found in Revelations. for if we dont believe what has been written by God through the Apostle John. Then one cant believe in God.

If there is as you say there is no tribe of Joseph. Then why is it mentioned in Revelations as one of the twelve tribes of Israel and among one of 144.000

Ramon, apparently you did not see my reference above to Rev.7:4-8 which does list a tribe of Joseph. In the Old Testament however, as I said above, there is no Tribe of Joseph, his inheritance is a double inheritance going to his two sons, Ephraim and Mannaseh.

Again I can only reiterate that if there is no tribe of Joseph why is it mentioned in Revelations 7:4-8. The logical point of all this is with the ommission of both the tribe of Ephriam and Dan in the final list of the twelve tribes of Israel in Revelations. That the tribe of Joseph would recieve both portions (inheritance) from the Tribe of Ephriam and the tribe of Dan. So the the tribe of Joseph then has a double inheritance. So the existance of the tribe of Joseph does exist and has existed since before time began as God planned it.

As stated above, I did in fact mention Rev.7:4-8 which mentions the Tribe of Joseph. In Genesis 49:2-28 Joseph is listed both as a son in verse2 and as a tribe in vs.28. However, in Gen. 48 Jacob gives the blessing that belongs to Joseph to his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. For Example in Num.1 lists the descendants of Joseph and splits them into Ephraim and Manasseh.This list leaves out Levi, until vs.47 who “were not registered with them by their ancestral tribe.” In Num.2 the tribes are broken down by where they shall camp which results in 13 tribes being listed, but no Joseph. In Deut.33 Moses blesses the Israelites and lists Joseph, but not Ephraim or Manasseh and he leaves out Simeon and Issachar as well. A key verse you should consider is Joshua 14:4 “The descendants of Joesph became two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim.” The conclusion to the matter is that, YES scripture mentions the Tribe of Joseph both in Gen. and Rev. but normally in the OT the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are mentioned in the lists of the tribes instead of Joseph.

maybe you are the one confused for the only tribe of Israel that was split was the tribe of Mannassa where part of this tribe remained on the Eastern side of the Jorden and the other half moved into the promised land.

Ramon,Please explain Joshua 14:4

Although they are the sons of Joseph each is a single tribe one being Ephriam on its own and one being Mannassa on its own which in turn was split in two. One part of Mannassah was situated East of the Sea Kiiereth. the other part of Mannassah stretched coast wise from just below Zebulum and Ephraim. Now then how does the tribe of Joseph appear in Revelations 7:5 explain that. or dont you believe that God planned all things before time began. For is he not the Lord of the past present and future and holds the time eternal in his hands. Or was it his son was on the cross he saw what happened, saw what is, and saw what will come.

Thanks i was confuse about this whole issue but am ok now

If you go to Revelation 7, you would see that Ephraim is Joseph. Ezekiel 37 confirms this.

Maybe Joseph represents a tribe of believers who live outside the box thus they are not easily catergorized. Joseph being a type of Christ who came to His own but His own recieved Him not.

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