The messages in the names of the 12 tribes of Israel

Have you ever wondered why the list of the 12 sons of Jacob in Genesis 29 is not exactly the same as the list of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel, the 144000, in Revelation 7?

In Genesis 29:32-35, Genesis 30:1-24 and Genesis 35:16-18, it is said, the 12 sons of Jacob were, in the order of their births, the names spelt in Hebrew: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin.

In Revelation 7:5-8, it is said, the 12 tribes of the children of Israel will be, the names spelt in Greek: Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nepthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, Benjamin.

Not only is the order different, but Dan is missing in Revelation and in its stead is Manasses.

It has been said by many a Bible and Hebrew scholar that the names of the 12 sons of Jacob, and likewise the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, are meaningful.

Reuben means, “Behold a son”.

… Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction…

Genesis 29:32

Simeon means, “To be heard” or “He has heard”.

… Because the LORD hath heard that I was hated…

Genesis 29:33

Levi means, “Joined” or “Together in harmony”.

… Now this time will my husband be joined unto me…

Genesis 29:34

Judah or Juda means, “Praise” or “Being thankful”.

… Now will I praise the LORD…

Genesis 29:35

Dan means, “Judge”.

… God hath judged me…

Genesis 30:6

Naphtali or Nepthalim means, “Wrestling” or “My struggle”.

… With great wrestlings have I wrestled… and I have prevailed…

Genesis 30:8

Gad means, “Fortune” or “Luck”, and also something to do “Troops”.

… A troop cometh…

Genesis 30:11

Asher or Aser means, “Happy” or “Blessed”.

… Happy am I…

Genesis 30:13

Issachar means, “Hire” or “Wage” or “Reward”.

… God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband…

Genesis 30:18

Zebulun or Zebulon means, “Dwelling” but also “Exalt” or “Honour”.

… God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me…

Genesis 30:20

Joseph means, “God shall add”.

… The LORD shall add to me another son.

Genesis 30:24

Benjamin means, “Son of the right hand”.

… Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.

Genesis 35:17

Manasseh or Manasses means, “To forget”.

… For God… hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

Genesis 41:51

Ephraim means, “Fruitful”.

… For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Genesis 41:52

Manasseh and Ephraim were the sons of Joseph.

When the 12 names of the sons of Jacob are put together, one after the other, according to Genesis, the time of the beginning, a prophetic message emerges:

Behold, a son is born unto us, (Reuben)
one who hears us (Simeon)
and will be joined to us. (Levi)
Praise the LORD! (Judah)
God will judged us, (Dan)
for we have wrestled with him over the years. (Naphtali)
His judgement will give us good fortune, (Gad)
and happiness, (Asher)
and we will be rewarded (Issachar)
with an exalted dwelling, the promised land. (Zebulun)
More than that, God will add to us (Joseph)
the Son of man, righteousness, who sits on the right hand of power. (Benjamin)

This statement is the gospel of the kingdom of God!

In expanding the meaning of each name, I have used only words and phrases that occur in the KJV Bible.

Now, when the 12 names of the tribes of Israel are put together, one after the other, according to Revelation, the time of the end, another prophetic message emerges:

Praise the LORD! (Juda)
Behold the Son of God (Reuben)
and his troops. (Gad)
Happy are we (Aser)
now that our struggle is over, (Nepthalim)
and God has made us forget the former things, (Manasses)
because he has heard us, (Simeon)
and he has joined to us as an husband. (Levi)
This is our reward, (Issachar)
and also he has given us an exalted place to dwell, the promised land. (Zabulon)
God will increase us in number (Joseph)
for our children hereafter will be righteous. (Benjamin)

So, this is the reason why the 12 names are not in the same order and why the 12 names do not match.

Notice the message in Revelation prophesies things further into the future. Also, in Revelation, Dan is missing because God’s judgement is done. In the place of Dan is Manasseh which I think is all about forgetting the past and any iniquity, and replacing the old covenant with a new one.

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD…

Jeremiah 31:33-35

Another significant difference – and to my mind, this is the biggest takeaway – is the arrival of the Son of God with his troops, namely “the sons of God”, or the saints.

In the list of names in Genesis, I read “Gad” as “fortune”, which is what the word means and because that works. But in the list of names in Revelation, “troops” is a better fit. After all, the Hebrew “begad” means “a troop cometh”. And these are precisely the words of Leah.

And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Genesis 30:11

So, my point is, the idea of an army of the kingdom of God is something that is being revealed in Revelation, in the very verses that speak to the 144000.

To make things more interesting, the key to this concealed prophecy happens to be someone named Leah. While “Leah” is a feminine Hebrew name meaning “weary”, a word that in and of itself brings to mind the saints (“weary” cf “strength”, ref. Isaiah 40:29-31), pronunciation-wise “Leah” is very close to the Chinese word and name “Lian” 练, my own name.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

Proverbs 25:2

Even the 29 of Genesis 29 and the 7 of Revelation 7 say something to me!

Pressing the meaning of it all further, Leah was the one of Jacob’s four wives that birth Judah. The line of Judah would produce David and subsequently the Son of man Jesus Christ. Leah’s maid, Zilpah, would birth Gad, resulting in the phrase “A troop cometh”. Therefore, as far as hidden messages go, Leah connects the Messiah with the saints. In other words, information-wise, it is Leah that connects the King of kings with the soldiers of the kingdom of God. This speaks to Isaiah 49!

… Kings shall see and arise, princes [the 144000 saints] also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee [me, the servant of Isaiah 49].

Isaiah 49:7

So, listen to me. This thing that I have been saying about the saints for a while now, a matter that no one else has brought up, is going to happen.

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name [练伟光]. And… in his quiver hath he hid me [think the secret of the saints, the troops of God];

Isaiah 49:1-2