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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the sixth son of Jacob by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid. The word Naphtali signifies wrestling, or struggling. When Rachel gave him this name, she said, "With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed," Genesis 30:8 . Naphtali had but four sons, and yet at the coming out of Egypt his tribe made up fifty-three thousand four hundred men, able to bear arms. Moses, in the blessing he gave to the same tribe, says, "O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess thou the west and the south," Deuteronomy 33:23 . The Vulgate reads it, "the sea and the south," and the Hebrew will admit of either interpretation, that is, the sea of Gennesareth, which was to the south by the inheritance of this tribe. His soil was very fruitful in corn and oil. His limits were extended into upper and lower Galilee, having Jordan to the east, the tribes of Asher and Zebulun to the west, Libanus to the north, and the tribe of Issachar to the south. Under Barak, their general, they and the Zebulunites fought with distinguished bravery against the army of Jabin the younger; and at the desire of Gideon they pursued the Midianites, Judges 4:10 ; Judges 5:18 ; Judges 7:23 . A thousand of their captains, with thirty-seven thousand of their troops, assisted at David's coronation, and brought great quantities of provision with them, 1 Chronicles 12:34 ; 1 Chronicles 12:40 . We find no person of distinguished note among them, save Barak, and Hiram the artificer. Instigated by Asa, Benhadad the elder, king of Syria, terribly ravaged the land of Naphtali; and what it suffered in after invasions by the Syrians we are partly told, 1 Kings 15:20 . The Naphtalites were, many, if not most of them, carried captive by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29 . Josiah purged their country from idols. Our Saviour and his disciples, during his public ministry, resided much and preached frequently in the land of Naphtali, Isaiah 9:1 ; Matthew 4:13 ; Matthew 4:15 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Naphtali'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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