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Why/How does the New Testament cite the 12 Tribes of Israel?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by ItalianStallion, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. ItalianStallion

    ItalianStallion New Member

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    The 12 Tribes of Israel were scattered/merged centuries before Jesus; afterwards Israel was divided into the tribes of either Israel or Judah.

    2 examples:
    1) How was Paul from the tribe of Benjamin if it didn't exist anymore?

    2) In Luke 2:36 - "here was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage"

    Again we see an old tribe mentioned in the New Testament.

    Was it that the tribes were "officially" gone, but people still tracked this bloodline as a higher priority? Such as an American who still calls themself of German or Chinese descent/origins?
     
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  2. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The tribes did not exist in that they were no longer organised into geographical areas. Obviously some families had retained their tribal identity. The Samaritans were the result Israelites who intermarried with gentiles, which is why they were so despised by "pure" Jews.

    Paul was simply making the point that he was a true Jew by descent as well as in his pre-Christian life. He was establishing his credentials.
     
  3. dqhall

    dqhall Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Benjamin lived close to Jerusalem, to the north of Judah. As the Assyrian army approached Jerusalem some people in the territory of Benjamin may have sought refuge in the south. Typically Judah and Levites lived in Jerusalem. Many living in the land of the ten tribes were deported by the Assyrians. The Assyrians left some poorer Israelites in Samaria and brought outsiders to settle there with them. The Samaritans are mixed race. Israel granted them Jewish status and the right of return as they keep the Sabbath and observe other Torah laws too.
     
  4. Gregorikos

    Gregorikos Ordinary Mystic

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    Why are we assuming the tribes didn't exist anymore?

    All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. Luke 2:3-4

    So we see from that Scripture that, not only did Joseph know his tribe, the Romans conducted their census based on that information. And we have the Holy Family, Paul, and Anna who were well aware of their tribe. (And Luke kept track of that as well.)

    Looks to me like this wasn't uncommon.
     
  5. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    Jews still traced their tribal affiliations. A lot of records about that sort of thing got lost in the Jewish-Roman War and Bar-Kochba War, with the Temple in complete ruins, and Jerusalem turned into a Roman colony renamed Aelia Capitolina. One of the exceptions to this seems to be the retention of priestly descent, which can still be seen today in Jewish surnames like Cohen and Kohen (Kohen being the Hebrew word for "priest").

    So while tribal affiliation would be near impossible to figure out today, in the time of the New Testament this wasn't a problem, family records and a pretty solid understanding of one's paternal lineage was quite solid. So St. Paul knew he was from the tribe of Benjamin, because his father was. Just like we know Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, because St. Joseph was of the tribe of Judah (and according to tradition, so was the Virgin Mary).

    Same as above.

    The tribes weren't gone. While the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel resulted in the leaders and highborn Israelites being taken into captivity and eventually assimilating, there were still Israelites living there. The Samaritans are the descendants of the Northern Kingdom, and the uniqueness of Samaritan religion can probably be traced back to differences that emerged between Northern Israelites and Southern Israelites after the division of the kingdom--such as regarding Mt. Gerizim as the holy mountain. And Samaritans, to this day, still trace their lineage to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.

    In the Southern Kingdom of Judah the Israelites there--of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, and Levi--continued to trace their tribal lineage right through the Babylonian Exile. As the Jews survived the Captivity with their national and religious identity intact, so upon return they brought with them all they had retained through the ordeal. And so through the reigns of the Persians, Greeks, the Maccabean period, and into the Roman occupation Jews held onto their history, their identity, their lineage and tribal identities.

    The myth of the Lost Tribes of Israel is persistent, but is actually just not true. None of the tribes were ever lost. Today's Jews and Samaritans are the descendants of the 12 Tribes of Israel.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  6. dqhall

    dqhall Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The part you wrote about Kohen is true. Cohn is also a derivative of the word for priest, as for years Hebrew writers did not write the vowels. The Phoenicians did.

    The Assyrians really did conquer the northern tribes and took many away as slaves. The Assyrian archives confirm parts of the late Biblical narrative.

    Nineteenth century travelers found a few Samaritans practicing their religion in the Nablus/Shechem area. They used to roast Passover lambs on spits atop Mt. Gerazim. They baked unleavened bread.

    If you look at the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke, you will find they do not match. It is possible some may not have known who their ancestors were.
     
  7. tdidymas

    tdidymas Newbie

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    The way I read it is that by the time of the 1st Century, Israelites were called "Jews" no matter what tribe they were from, because the area surrounding Jerusalem was called Judea. I also take it that Samaria and Galilee were under the jurisdiction of Judea, and those adhering to the faith of the Jews would then be called Jews. So the term is cultural. Even today if anyone converts to Judaism, they are called Jews (or converted Jews).
     
  8. ViaCrucis

    ViaCrucis Evangelical Catholic of the Augsburg Confession

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    The discrepancies between the two genealogies is interesting, but this is probably due to Matthew and Luke's differences in purpose. There are theological reasons behind them, though both present a genealogical account of St. Joseph's line (the popular idea that one is Joseph's and one is Mary's is a very modern interpretation that has no basis in the biblical text itself).

    But what both agree on with great confidence is that Jesus is the legal and adopted Child of St. Joseph, who was of the line of David, of the tribe of Judah.

    -CryptoLutheran
     
  9. yeshuasavedme

    yeshuasavedme Senior Veteran

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    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
  10. yeshuasavedme

    yeshuasavedme Senior Veteran

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    They are Joseph's line by law, and Joseph's line by nature, showing that the right to the throne of David went to his firstborn son (by law).
    It has to do with the law of a barren widow marrying a near kinsman whose firstborn son is raised in the name of the widow's deceased husband.
    Joseph's mother was a barren widow and she married a near kinsman and so Joseph had a natural father, and was raised as the son of the deceased husband.
    Both geneologies go back to David. Solomon's line was cursed and no king would sit on the throne after a certain one. But the legal geneology goes back to David through Nathan.
    Moses wrote that law.
    Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History also explains it well.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2021
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