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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Zebulun was the 10th son of Jacob, the 6th borne to him by Leah in Paddan-aram. Nothing is known of this patriarch's life, save in so far as it coincides with that of his brethren. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says that he first of the five brethren was presented to Pharaoh by Joseph, when Israel and his house arrived in Egypt (Genesis 47:2 ). Three sons, Sered, Elon and Jahleel, were born to him in Canaan, and these became the ancestors of the three main divisions of the tribe (Genesis 46:14 ).
The position of the tribe of Zebulun in the wilderness was with the standard of the camp of Judah on the east side of the tabernacle (Numbers 2:7 ). This camp moved foremost on the march (Numbers 2:9 ). At the first census Zebulun numbered 57,400 men of war (Numbers 1:30 ), the prince of the tribe being Eliab, son of Helon (Numbers 1:9 ). At the second census the men of war numbered 60,500 (Numbers 26:27 ); see, however,
The details given are confusing. It is to be observed that this does not bring Zebulun into touch with the sea, and so is in apparent contradiction with Genesis 49:13 , and also with Josephus (Ant. , V, i, 22; BJ , III, iii, 1), who says the lot of Zebulun included the land which "lay as far as the Lake of Gennesareth, and that which belonged to Carmel and the sea." Perhaps, however, the limits changed from time to time. So far as the words in Genesis 49:13 are concerned, Delitzsch thinks they do not necessarily imply actual contact with the sea; but only that his position should enable him to profit by maritime trade. This it certainly did; the great caravan route, via maris , passing through his territory. Thus he could "suck the treasures of the sea." See also TABOR ,
Elon the Zebulunite was the only leader given by the tribe to Israel of whom we have any record (Judges 12:11 f); but the people were brave and skillful in war, furnishing, according to the Song of Deborah, "(them) that handle the marshal's staff" ( Judges 5:14 ). The tribe sent 50,000 single-hearted warriors, capable and well equipped, to David at Hebron (1 Chronicles 12:33 ). From their rich land they brought stores of provisions (1 Chronicles 12:40 ). Over Zebulun in David's time was Ishmaiah, son of Obadiah (1 Chronicles 27:19 ). Although they had fallen away, Hezekiah proved that many of them were capable of warm response to the appeal of religious duty and privilege (2 Chronicles 30:10 f, 18 ff). They are not named, but it is probable that Zebulun suffered along with Naphtali in the invasion of Tiglath-pileser ( 2 Kings 15:29 ). In later days the men from these breezy uplands lent strength and enterprise to the Jewish armies. Jotapata (
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Zebulun'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​isb/​z/zebulun.html. 1915.