Post by charliedale on Nov 5, 2014 12:15:08 GMT -5
I have always wondered about tribal identities among the Jews after the return from exile. Much of the OT makes it seem that there were only Judahites, Benjaminites, and Levites left, but then Luke 2:36 says that Anna the prophetess was from the tribe of Asher. Do we have evidence of other tribal identities surviving into the NT?
This question could effect one's understanding of the 144,000 in Revelation. I had come to the conclusion that that passage was a symbol for the Church sense the literal tribes were more than likely gone forever, but now Anna of the Tribe of Asher makes me wonder.
Post by Mike Miller on Dec 23, 2014 12:25:33 GMT -5
First, let me say that you are correct in understanding the 144,000 to be symbolic for all of God's people. Were it to be about ethnic Jews, the list presents a problem in that Dan is not mentioned, and neither is Ephraim, but Joseph and Manasseh are. You might recall that Joseph was one of the 12 sons of Israel, but the descendants of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, each received allotments of the land. Their were still only 12 portions, however, since the descendants of Levi didn't get any land (as priests, the Lord was their inheritance). Most throughout history have understood the 144,000 to be a symbolic number representing the company of the redeemed.
So what about those tribes that are not mentioned in the New Testament. Bear in mind that most of what is traditionally believed about the "lost tribes" is based more on speculation than hard information. What we do know is that after the invasion of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria, those 10 tribes (the Southern Kingdom consisted of Judah and Benjamin and those Levites serving in the Southern Kingdom) were scattered. The Samaritans are the people descended from the intermarriages of those Jews and the Assyrians, but as far as the exact identity and locations of rest of the Northern tribes, we know very little. Some groups of Jews today claim to trace their ancestry back to certain of Israel's sons, but those claims are largely disputed.
The bottom line regarding those "lost tribes" is that we just don't know. Yes, Anna is identified as a descendant of Asher, but aside from that, we have no biblical witness to any descendants of any of the other tribes in the New Testament.