Were there 12 or 13 tribes of Israel?

How could there be ten tribes in revolt in Israel, when the tribe which provided the priests and Levites remained for the worship of the Lord in the Temple, in addition to Judah and Benjamin?

When thinking of this matter of the revolt from Rehoboam, and the division afterwards into two kingdoms, have you not for the moment forgotten that there were actually thirteen tribes in Israel?

Jacob had of course only twelve sons, but the giving of tribeship to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, brought the number of the Tribes to thirteen. See Genesis 48:5, 22. This is described in 1 Chronicles 5:1-2 as giving the birthright. (i.e. the double portion, as in Deuteronomy 21:17) to the Sons of Joseph. Arid Ezekiel 47:13 shows that the arrangement will persist even in Millennial times.

The expression “The Twelve Tribes,” as used in Exododus 24:4; Matthew 19:28; James 1:1; Revelation 21:12; etc., became a kind of ideal description for them, and that the more readily because of Levi having no possession in the sense that the other tribes had. But when a list of twelve is given, either one tribe is omitted, as Dan in Revelation 7:4-8, or Manasseh and Ephraim are joined in one, as in Deuteronomy 27:12-13.

This thought of twelve as an ideal number is also the most probable explanation of the statement, “He was seen.. . of the Twelve”, in 1 Corinthians 15:5, since Judas was not present on the occasion referred to.

W.R.