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Naphtali was the younger of two sons whom Rachel’s maid Bilhah bore to Jacob (Genesis 30:7-8). The tribe descended from him settled in the north of Canaan, and together with the neighbouring tribe of Zebulun occupied much of the region later known as Galilee. This was the region to the north and west of the Sea of Chinnereth (Lake Galilee) where Jesus grew up and where he spent most of the time recorded of him in the New Testament. The country was mainly hilly, with good pastures and fertile soil (Genesis 49:21; Deuteronomy 33:23; Joshua 19:32-39; Joshua 20:7; Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16). (For other features of the region see BETHSAIDA; CAPERNAUM; CHINNERETH; GALILEE; HAZOR.)


In Old Testament times the men of Naphtali proved to be good fighters when called upon to help the other tribes in battle (Judges 4:6; Judges 4:10; Judges 5:18; Judges 6:35; Judges 7:23; 1 Chronicles 12:34). The tribe itself, however, was open to attack from the north (1 Kings 15:20). It was among the first tribes to go into captivity when Assyria invaded and finally destroyed Israel (2 Kings 15:29). Yet out of this land of darkness and defeat came light and salvation in the person of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Naphtali'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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