The Tribe Of Zebulun

Genesis 49:13

13 “Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.

I think of the smell of the sea when I think of him. Initially this was because of the prophecy of Jacob.  I also think of Jesus, because Nazareth was in the region assigned to Zebulun and Naphtali.  Isaiah mentioned this, and so did Matthew.  

Ironically, during his lifetime, most of what we know, has Zebulun tied to the land.  It makes me wonder if the prophecy God gave him, was tied to a desire of Zebulun.  Each of us has dreams we may be afraid to vocalize, yet God both hears and cares.

He was the sixth son of Leah, and the last boy, Dinah, a daughter, being Leah’s seventh child.  We know very little about him, except for his naming. His name meant exalted, and his Mother said her children was her dowry God had given her. Leah, the sorrowful one, the tender eyed one, the rejected one, gave birth to honor, who would inherit the sea.  

An oddity occurs in Jacob’s prophecy, he mentions a pagan city, older than Tyre, called Sidon.  He ties Zebulun’s future to it.  Sidon means hunting, fishing, specifically “in the sense of catching fish”.  What does honor have to do with fishing, for the answer to that, ask Simon Peter.

Isaiah 9:1

1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

If you take the first word of Isaiah 9:6, and the thirteenth, and put them together, you get the word forgiven.  Aren’t you glad that Jesus made glorious the seashore Of Galilee, and brought to light the way we could receive His riches. We were forgiven, never forgotten, never forsaken. Oh the depth of The Water Of Life, and His riches!

The greatest honor of Zebulun would not be the experiences of his family in The Old Testament, but those in The New Testament. The region the tribe inherited, would bear witness to the ministry of Jesus. The Great Fisher would traverse the seaside of the territory of both Zebulun and Naphtali.

Even going to the region of Tyre and Sidon, to heal the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7.  He would also tell His followers, He would make them Fishers of Men. There is no greater honor than being part of Jesus’ plan.  Concerning the miracle in Mark 7, it says He entered a certain house, have you ever wondered who’s house it was?

I don’t know, but I would venture it was a house ready to receive Jesus.  Whether it was an acquaintance, a relative who lived there, or someone with knowledge of Jesus, there was a connection made.  Say what you will, but He went there in secret, one desperate woman found out, He heard her cry, answered, and returned to Galilee.  

I believe Jesus went there so that particular woman could find Him. I do not believe it was coincidence, I believe it was strategic.  What if, Jesus appointed the inheritance of Zebulun and Naphtali all those years before, not so they would reap the riches of Sidon, but so Sidon could reap the riches of Jesus?

Who are we connected with who’s daughter needs Jesus?  Who are we pouring into that needs Jesus? Are we on the coast of someone’s life who needs a haven for their ship? Are we a warehouse or a Lighthouse? If we are a Lighthouse are we purposely shining into someone’s darkness, not with judgement but with hope?

I’m not talking about showing them where they’re lacking, they know that, I’m talking about shining into their suffering. The word in Genesis 49:13 translated ship, specifically focuses on shipmen.  God isn’t concerned about their cargo, or baggage, he’s concerned with their safety.  

Are you connected enough with anyone who doesn’t know Jesus, enough to get an invitation to their house?  To be welcomed, we must first be friendly, then attractive, not in a physical sense, but a relational one. Jesus wasn’t only Holy, He was interesting. Are we making ourselves attractive to non-believers? Jesus had something the world not only needed, but wanted.

Psalms 107:23-24

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

I believe the verse in Psalms 107:23, 24, is prophetic about the time of Jesus.  The great waters aren’t only talking about physical commerce, but spiritual transformation. The Sea of Galilee may not be physically great waters, but there was nothing deeper ever spoken or experienced, than the words of Jesus from Simon’s fishing boat, and it all happened in Zebulun and Naphtali’s inheritance.

Some would say that Zebulun was a lesser tribe, maybe you feel that way about yourself. Maybe you measure yourself against others, not their prominence, I’m sure you don’t care about that. However maybe you worry that the work you do is not as valuable.  Perhaps you feel that you’re not contributing anything of lasting value, but you have to remember two things.

First, The Talent Giver isn’t giving you an arbitrary gift.  He didn’t just give you what is left.  Jesus handcrafted every talent, resource, and calling for each of Jacob’s children, and for you.  What Jacob and Esau missed was this, Isaac may have had one birthright and blessing, but God didn’t.

He showed Jacob, through twelve sons, and a daughter, that God had individual characteristics, callings, and blessings for each of them, for us, and for you.  The greatest lies of atheism aren’t only denying that we have A Creator, but a Glorious Creator, and that He created EACH OF US, with a specific calling, and purpose, just like Zebulun.

Second, each of us factors into God’s plan. It wasn’t a strategic move on Jacob’s part to have twelve sons, but it was on God’s part. Before Jacob ever saw even Reuben’s newborn face, much less Zebulun, Jesus saw his border expanding to the sea. 

It was God who called you and I, and everyone else in this world. You are a strategic part of God’s Master Plan, to introduce The Master into the lives of those you specifically come in contact with. Jesus has made you a haven, so welcome every weary soul to a place of true riches, at The Feet Of Jesus!

The Tribe Of Simeon

Genesis 29:33
33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon.

The tribe of hearing, this is what Simeon means, more specifically the tribe of Divine Hearing. Leah, one of my favorite people in the Bible named him. In the struggle with her sister Rachel, Simeon was her second son. His birth represented that God had heard her cry, Simeon would reflect hearing throughout his history.

Genesis 46:10
10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

I love learning little known facts, and aspects of people in The Word Of God, and many years ago, I learned something about Simeon. He knew firsthand about family stress, growing up he saw the rivalry between his Mother, and Aunt Rachel. I wander how he felt when he heard the arguments, and felt the pain they caused.

Commentators believe that a second wife of his own brought strife into his own family. Only one of Simeon’s sons bears this title, what the King James calls, the son of a Canaanitish woman. The phrase is repeated in Exodus 6:15 as well, yet disappears by the time Shaul is mentioned again in Numbers 26:13, and 1 Chronicles 4:24.

The word that represented Shaul’s Mother, Canaanitish, connects with the meaning of her son as well. Canaanitish not only represents a Canaanite, but implies a pedlar. Shaul means desired, or one begged for.

His Mother went from being called a term applied to beggars, to giving birth to a tribal prince’s son. It reminds me of where God brought Man, from the fall to the Cross.

I wonder how it happened Simeon’s love story happened? Was Simeon heartbroken when his Wife died? If commentators were correct, he became a widower with five sons. Did he look for a Mother for his children? Did he meet a band of merchants and fall in love with one of their daughters?

However it happened, he married a woman, that we don’t even know by name. This doesn’t reflect her worth, because she gets more of a mention than Simeon’s first Wife. We only know she existed because she produced five sons. Ironically, Leah had six sons, and with the edition of Shaul, so did Simeon.

One begged for, Shaul’s meaning. Did his Mother feel the sting of resentment from her stepsons? Did Simeon’s family, and servants, compare her to her predecessor? Maybe it was Simeon who longed for another son. Whatever happened, God heard the ache for a child and responded.

While I believed Shaul’s Mother wanted him deeply, I believe Simeon did too. Each of Simeon’s children had a special name. His firstborn Jemuel meant Day Of God. Jamin meant right hand, Ohad meant united. Joachim would also be the name of a pillar in the temple, for it meant He will establish. Zohar means brightness.

Family was important to Simeon, he had learned that lesson well. Ironically it was this love of family which would cause issues with Simeon’s own father. Simeon had five brothers, but one sister, Dinah.

Commentators debate it, whether Dinah went somewhere she shouldn’t have, or was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether he forced her, or seduced her, he took her, and then tried to fix it. Simeon and Levi wouldn’t hear of it.

They cooked up a story. They tricked Shechem, his father, and the men of that city, then attacked. This act angered Jacob. Although he loved his sons, he not only did not approve or condone it, he never forgot it either.

After this, Simeon goes along with his other brothers concerning the rejection of Joseph. Most commentators will explain that Joseph’s life was a type and shadow of Jesus, which I also believe. If that is the case, while Joseph sends his other brothers away for a time, Simeon, or hearing, is held captive.

The tribes of Israel are separated from their hearing, or Simeon. This is the case until Benjamin is brought to Joseph. Benjamin means son of my right hand, but son can also mean people of a nation. Right hand also means the south, or facing the east.

To paraphrase, hearing was withheld from Israel until the nation came to Joseph, foreshadowing Jesus revealing Himself to Israel. As Bishop Livingston taught us, this happened while Joseph’s Gentile bride, representing the Church and the rapture, was shut up in another chamber.

Finally, Joseph revealed himself, Jacob arrived in Egypt, time passed, and the Exodus occurred. It came time for Jacob to die, but before he did, he had a few things to say.

He stated that he would scatter Levi and Simeon in Israel. I don’t know if Jacob understood what he prophesied, or not, but unlike it seems it was not bad. Simeon’s inheritance ended up among the tribe of Judah, the praisers. It’s always easier to hear God’s voice while worshiping!

Deuteronomy 27:12
12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Levi was the tribe of the Priesthood, Simeon lived with Judah. Moses commanded that, when Israel arrived in the promised land, certain tribes would stand on a certain mountain to bless Israel. The first three, Simeon, Levi, and Judah!

After they were freed from Egypt, traveled through the wilderness, and fought for the promised land, they settled in their cities and villages. The locations mentioned for a group of Simeon’s family, lived from the city of Beersheba, to the village of Beth-Biri.

Beth-Biri, which means House of My Creator, or House of my health. When you spend your life listening to Jesus, you spend your days in His house, and your spiritual health will be assured. The Shallumites, Shaul’s son, lived there. Shaul, who had been known by his Mother’s less than stellar heritage, now lived in The Creator’s House.

The Tribe Of Asher

Numbers 2:27
27 And those to camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, the chief of the people of Asher being Pagiel the son of Ochran,

Nothing with God is an accident. That’s not to say that every second of time is micromanaged. Most people misquote  the Scripture, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” All things aren’t good, or even divinely intended, but God melds the events of our days to bring us to that great day that is to come.

Solomon said life and chance happen to us all. David said Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light unto my path. The steps of a good man are ordered of The Lord. The path, the steps, and the direction are planned, but we will face obstacles in the way.

God allows, not causes the obstacles. An whether the stumbling block is a key to a future event, something that life brings, or something that our mistakes have caused, God will use it to help, and not hurt us. Joseph’s brothers were not inspired to throw him into the pit, but God knew it would happen.

What was meant to be an instrument of cruelty and revenge by man, was what God used to save the same men’s lives. What does all this have to do with Numbers 2:27? For one thing, Pagiel’s ancestor, Asher, was one of those who threw Joseph into the pit.

It’s Pagiel’s name that introduced the topic that I’m getting ready to share, and have alluded to above. Among other meanings, his name is defined as, “Accident Of God.” God is merciful, kind, compassionate, wise, but one thing He is not, is accident prone.

There are no accidents of God, and yet, this is what this young man’s name means. That one definition arrested me. I was reading Numbers 2, the chapter about the standard bearers around the Tabernacle, and I felt that I needed to go back and look up Pagiel.

When I saw the meaning, I wanted to learn everything I could about the young man. He was the Prince of his tribe. His Father’s name is Ochran, meaning muddler or trouble. An the standard he stood by was the olive tree.

Beyond that, we know very little about the man that sparked such an interesting name. So I began to look at his family, and the tribe he was the head of. It was a large tribe, apparently a successful one, but with very few, named, prominent members.

His tribe is described as the happiest of tribes, and yet, it is one of the those that God had placed on Mount Ebal to curse, or warn of what would happen if Israel backslid. We view happiness as a blessing, and it is with a life that is pleasing to God, but without a relationship with God, happiness is only a deception.

Happiness without a relationship with God, is a very dangerous thing. With sorrow, there is longing, a sense that things can be better. Sorrow screams something is missing, happiness whispers everything is fine. Destruction often doesn’t come in a shout, but in a soft, quiet, murmur.

Longing in itself isn’t a sign of righteousness though. Any emotion, any condition, outside of a right relationship with God, has it’s perils. Just as happiness, absent God, is a masking of truth, the lack of happiness can lead you on a road of danger.

Some of the most serious people away from a stage, are comedians. I don’t know if it’s that they get bored with being funny, or if they get tired of it. Perhaps they get bored with laughter. Or they resent that is the only facet of their personality people see, I’m not sure.

What I do know is that they eventually put on a happy face like an actor puts on a mask. It’s not real, if they’re good at what they do, it can seem like it, but it isn’t. Asher may have been known to be the happiest of tribes, but there was trouble lurking somewhere behind the tent door.

Among the tribes bored with the manna, tired of the blessings, was the tribe of Asher. Every thing good that God had given them, and still it was not good enough. When they got to the promised land, they failed to drive out the Phoenicians in the land they inherited.

There were no judges recorded of Asher. No great kings ruled from this tribe. The great prophets, such as Moses, Elijah, and Ezekiel, were not from the tribe of Asher. I did find one important thing that happened with this tribe in the Old Testament.

King Hezekiah sent messengers throughout Israel to keep the Passover. He was asking Israel to turn from their sinful ways, and return to God. Initially there was resistance, but Asher was the first tribe mentioned who humbled themselves, and came back to Jerusalem.

The “happy” tribe realized that what they had, the wealth, the pleasant conditions, everything that they were content with, wasn’t enough. Somewhere in them, there was a desire for something that was more than what they had.

So they made the journey back to God. Maybe your life seems fine. The bills are paid, you have your health. Nothing seems to be wrong. Maybe you’re even a happy person. Let me ask you something, are you complete?

I’ve seen broken men laugh. I’ve heard laughter at the funeral home, but it didn’t change the condition that had brought us there. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, then something is missing in your life.

Asher realized this, and while we don’t know what all happened, we do know someone passed on what Asher returned too. The last two generations we see in the family of Asher, are a Father and a daughter.

The man’s name is Phanuel, and he has a daughter named Anna. She is a widow, and when we meet her, most likely her father is dead, because she is eighty four years old.

I’m guessing they’re not what you expected. It’s not really a thriving group. The memory of a Dad and a husband, and she only got to be married for seven years. The Bible mentions no children, no relatives, and no legacy.

It would appear to be a sad life, but like I said about happiness, appearances can be deceiving. Her dad, Phanuel, meant The Face Of God, and that is where Anna spent her time, near God, in the Temple.

We only see her for three verses of Scripture, but oh what three verses it is, Luke chapter two. This family of a handmaid, whose namesake was born as a weapon in a feud between two sisters, now saw another child. The woman’s whose Father was named after God’s face, was blessed to see the Face Of God in flesh!

Like the founding namesake of her tribe, this child was also a weapon, but He was not born out of jealousy. The Christ was born to rescue the happy and the sad, those who laughed, and those who cried. The prominent, the forsaken, and the seemingly forgotten, all were rescued by this weapon of hope.

There are no accidents of God. Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, what happens to you, may not be planned, but you were. God may not micromanage the events of time, but He created time to spend it with you and I.

It was no accident that Anna, who had been so faithful, even in the midst of her sorrow, got to see Jesus. Sorrow, like laughter, can be a gift, and they can both be gifts from God. It doesn’t matter what brought you to Jesus, only that you find him. Anna means Grace, and as long as Grace brings you to Jesus, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

One of the places in the tribal territory of Asher was the town of Beth-emek, meaning House Of The Valley. There are times when we inherit a house in the valley, or a depressed state. Sometimes it’s by chance, other times it’s through our own mistakes, or at times, it just happens.

Regardless, you find yourself in a house in a valley. You inherit it in the midst of others whose circumstances are different. Don’t make the mistake that there borders are better for you than your own. They are different, but God did not place you where they are, or them where you are.

Each tribe was placed in the location that was best for them. Asher was meant to bring laughter to the House Of The Valley. Some people are called to sorrow, not for themselves, but for those who would come after them. The House Of The Valley is not a closed house, nor did God place you in an isolated place. He placed you a secure location, in a place that desperately needs some true joy.

Beth-emek was surrounded by places like Jiphthah–el, meaning God will open, the place right before Beth-emek. After it, is Neiel, or Moved Of God, which is followed by Cabul, or sterile and limitation. When God places you in a trial, one that lasts so long, you feel it’s become your address, don’t forget that He never sits you where He’s not standing beside you.

Beth-emek was in the center of all these places. It was the gateway that bridged what is open, into where God is moving, to those areas where limitation and barrenness seem so common. Asher was meant to connect the sorrowful with a joy that’s doesn’t numb the pain, but turns it into a testimony.

The last individual from the tribe of Asher, that we know by name is Anna. This woman, a Prophetess, had experienced her own valley. Instead of sadness, she shared the source of her joy throughout Jerusalem. She shared the love for God she had, in spite of a long, lonely trial, with everyone. Anna knew, Jesus is here to rescue the isolated, the limited, and the hopeless.

This seemingly insignificant tribe, which entered the world laughing, now exits it rejoicing, heralding the birth of The Savior. We met Pagiel beside his standard, the Olive Tree, among the thousands of Israel, surrounding the Tabernacle.

The last place we see the tribe of Asher, is in Revelation chapter seven. Standing, sealed with the seal of God, among the tribes of Israel, worshipping The Lamb. Jacob said Asher’s bread would be fat or rich, and he would yield royal delicacies. Moses said he would dip his feet in oil, and that he would be acceptable to his brothers.

In other words, Asher eventually testified of God’s Grace, as well as His birth, sharing real joy with the world. No matter the trouble the family faced, no matter how many accidents seemed to befall them, no matter what struggles they inherited, Asher kept going. In the end, he stood with his brothers, and his children, rejoicing at the Throne Of God.