This page/post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, as well as an affiliate of other programs, this means if you purchase something using these links, I will receive a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you! For more detailed information, please visit our Affiliate Disclaimer page
Looking at the tribe of Zebulun, the first thing to note is that Zebulun is Jacob’s tenth son, the youngest of six borne by Leah. When he was born, Leah said, “God has presented me with a precious gift. This time my husband will treat me with honor, because I have borne him six sons”.
Leah said, “God has given me a choice gift (zevadani zeved tov); this time my husband will exalt me (yizbleni)”… so she named him Zebulun.
So Leah derives the name from zeved meaning gift, and zabal meaning exalt.
Zebulun is the head of one of Israel’s twelve tribes. In the time of Moses, Zebulun was divided into three clans: the Seredites, the Elonites, and the Jahleelites, named after Zebulun’s sons.
History of the Tribe of Zebulun
Zebulun was part of the plot to sell Joseph in slavery, and later a member of the group sent to Egypt to buy corn.
Zebulun was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses.
The people promised to avoid certain behaviors mentioned in the curses.
Some of the curses included:
In all, there were twelve admonishments that Zebulun helped to deliver. You can read all twelve in Deuteronomy 27:15-26
The Tribe of Zebulun is not mentioned often in Scripture. The judge, Elon, whose name appears only in passing in Judges 12:11, was descended from Zebulun.
The tribe of Zebulun, though, was highly praised by Deborah in her poetic song of the war against Sisera:
Jonah also hails from the tribe of Zebulun.
The tribe was renowned as seafarers.
Zebulun is best known for its partnership with the tribe of Issachar.
Zebulun and Issachar had a truly unique partnership. It is recorded that the proceeds of Zebulun’s trade supported the Torah scholars of Issachar. Not only did the Zebulunites receive a share of the spiritual merit earned by those of Issachar, but they were rewarded for their generosity with the blessing for “the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand”
The Territory of the Tribe of Zebulun
Zebulun’s territory was located in what later became known as Galilee, in Northern Israel; the northern land of Canaan.
Blessings to Zebulun
The descendants of Zebulun were destined to become the great businessmen of Israel. From the land that they settled on the banks of the Mediterranean, the Zebulunites created a renowned merchant fleet.
At the end of his life, when Moses blessed the tribes, he spoke of Issachar and Zebulun together, saying:
Isaiah Prophecy Regarding Zebulun
Isaiah prophesized that the tribe of Zebulun would be the first to hear Christ’s preaching.
and, in fact, we learn that this prophecy was fulfilled in the New Testament:
It is so thrilling to see prophecy fulfilled, isn’t it?
Lessons We Can Learn From the Tribe of Zebulun
- God is always there when we turn to Him
While not immediately obvious, the history of the tribe of Zebulun reminds us that God is always there when we turn to Him or return to Him. No matter how broken or weak we may be or how shameful we feel about past sins, God can still use us.
- When we return to Him, we want to obey Him
After some time, Zebulun returned to God and followed His commands. His tribe joined others in battles led by Deborah and Barak, and they fought valiantly.
During the kingdom years, Zebulun joined David at Hebron to transfer Saul’s kingdom to David.
This, too, provides insight into our behavior. While at times we turn away from God, His love for us, and ours for Him, draws us back into communion with Him and compliance with His will.
- Always Follow God’s Will
Upon entering the Promised Land, Zebulun failed to drive out the Canaanites living in Kitron and Nahalol, although Zebulun did subject them to forced labor (Judges 1:30). This was incomplete obedience to God’s clear command to drive out all the inhabitants of the land (Numbers 33:52). Not responding fully to God’s Word, as Zebulun demonstrated, is a trait to which we all can relate. How often do we choose to follow our own paths for various reasons, many of which may not be in concert with God’s wishes?
Always have a good attitude toward true worship
In the latter half of the eighth century B.C.E., individuals from the tribe of Zebulun humbled themselves and responded to Judean King Hezekiah’s invitation to attend the Passover celebration at Jerusalem. Centuries later, in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (see Isaiah 9:1,2) Christ Jesus preached in the territory of ancient Zebulun and apparently found hearing ears there (compare Matthew 4:13–16). Do you have an attitude of true worship like Zebulun in the Bible?
Did you learn something new about the tribe of Zebulun? What is it about Zebulun that stood out to you most?
You may enjoy this video about the tribe of Zebulun by Pastor Omar Thibeaux:
The form you have selected does not exist.
Or, one of these recommended resources:
The 12 Tribes of Israel (or is it 14?) & Lessons We Can Learn by Susan J Nelson
Strange Parallel: Zebulun – The Netherlands a Tribe of Israel by Helene Koppejan
Understanding the Twelve Tribes: Boundaries & Surrounding Nations by Menashe Har-El
As always, I’m praying for you.
Because of Him,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”