Secret Messages in the Names of Jacob’s Twelve Sons

Is God sending us secret messages in the names of Jacob’s twelve sons? Is He mysteriously foretelling the evolving Jewish World view through the eyes of Leah and Rachel?

Jacob Blesses his Sons

In Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah, YHVH (Yahweh) refers to himself as the husband of Israel and to Israel as his wife.  For your maker is your husband, the LORD Almighty is his name, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit, a wife married young, only to be rejected, says your God (Isa. 54:5).

In Jeremiah 3, Yahweh says to Israel in verse 14, Turn, O backsliding children, said the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

In light of this husband and wife relationship between God and Israel, the prophetic statements of Leah and Rachel and Jacob about their 12 sons may provide a clue about how Israel, the wife of God, will change her worldview over time as she relates to her husband Yahweh.

The following is the list of Jacob’s son in their original birth order along with the prophetic statements associated with their names.

The Original Birth Order

  • Reuben – Because the LORD (my husband) has looked upon me and seen my affliction
  • Simeon – Because the LORD (my husband) has heard me how I feel unloved
  • Levi – Now He (my husband) has become attached to me
  • Judah – I will praise the LORD
  • Dan – Judge
  • Nathtali – I have struggled
  • Gad – He has Granted good fortune
  • Asher – Happy am I
  • Issachar – He has given me my reward
  • Zebulon – God has give me a dwelling place or Now, He will live (dwell) with me
  • Joseph – He has added unto me another son
  • Ben – the Son of His right hand

Is there a message when you put the these prophetic statements in order of their birth.  Let’s look to see if there is a message to decipher?

The message of Jacob’s sons

Because the LORD (my husband) has looked upon me and seen my affliction * Because the LORD (my husband) has heard me how I feel unloved * Now He will become attached to me * I will praise the LORD * Judge * I have Struggled * He has granted me good fortune * Happy am I * He has given me my reward * He is dwelling with me * He (will add) added unto me another son* a Son of His right hand.

In many ways this message sums up the Jewish experience during their early existence. They experienced affliction and felt unloved and abandoned by God in Egypt, yet they always retained their faith and continued to praise the God of their fathers and believed He could see and hear them and would come for them and deliver them.

The cryptic message says to judge.  You have seen my struggles, however you have also witnessed my good fortune.  I am happy now, the Lord has given me my reward. He is dwelling with us in the cloud and fire in the wilderness, and later by inhabiting the Temple in Jerusalem. He gave us a homeland in Canaan flowing with milk and honey and promised us a great Prophet, Priest and King, a future son of God’s right hand who would be a blessing to the entire world.

As fascinating as this message is, it gets even more interesting.  The latter prophets when writing about the twelve tribes list them in a different sequence.  Why would they do this unless perhaps there is a message for us to uncover.  For example, Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh are substituted for him in the sequence. On reason the prophet did this is to recognize Jacob’s blessing of Joseph son’s as each getting a son’s portion of his blessing.  By doing this Jacob is giving his son Joseph a double portion of his inheritance.

As you will see in the following messages, God seems to be describing Israel and her attitude toward him in different ways as they travel through history. Is Yahweh showing Israel that He knows them so well that he knows how they will respond to Him and the circumstances they face as a people?

The name Ephraim means “a double fruitfulness” and Manasseh means “has caused me to forget.” Let’s see how the message changes once we insert Ephraim and Manasseh for Joseph.

A new message with Ephraim (younger) and Manasseh

Because the LORD (my husband) has looked upon me and seen my affliction * Because the LORD (my husband) has heard me how I feel unloved * Now He will become attached to me * I will praise the LORD * Judge * I have Struggled * God has granted me good fortune * Happy am I * God has given me a dwelling place * a double fruitfulness * has caused me to forget * a Son of His right hand.

As you can see, this is a very different message with very specific implications. It appears in this sentence that a double portion has been the cause for Israel to forget a Son of His right hand.  Could it be said that the Jews are a fruitful people?  Look at almost any field of endeavor and you will finds Jews at the top of the class.  Have the Jewish people poured themselves into their fruitfulness to forget this Son of His right hand?  About 2 billion Christians world wide suspect so.

In Dueteronomy a new order emerges and a new message. Moses blesses each tribe, however he leaves out Simeon all together. Moses blesses the tribes in the following order.

Moses order is Reuben, Judah, Levi, Benjamin, Joseph, (Ephraim/Manasseh) Zepulon, Gad, Dan, Naptali, Asher.

What is the new message in the Order used by Moses in his blessing in Deuteronomy?

Because the LORD (my husband) has looked upon me and seen my affliction * I will praise the LORD * Now He will become attached to me * a Son of His right hand * To add * a double fruitfulness * He has caused me to forget * God has bestowed on me a good dwelling place * God has given me my reward * Granted good fortune * Judge * I have struggled * Happy am I

Note: In Exodus YHVH (Yahweh) also refers to Israel as his son.

Here again a completely different message and one that certainly sounds more contemporary. The sentence with my commentary for the modern Jewish attitude might look like this.

It would appear the response of Yahweh to the afflictions of the Jews, the son of his right hand, is to add to them a double fruitfulness. No one argues that the Jews have been afflicted i.e. in Egypt, the wilderness, against the inhabitants of Canaan, by the Assyrians, in Babylonian captivity, while scattered throughout the world, during the Inquisition, during the holocaust and even now as there is a constant threat of annihilation from Iran and other neighbors.

And who can argue that the Jews have been super fruitful? They are known for their fruitfulness, both financially and by their contributions to the world. This fruitfulness in some ways has caused the Jew to forget the affliction they have endured. God has given the Jews good homes, even restored a homeland in Israel. That has been their reward and good fortune. Let the world judge, let God judge. The Jews have struggled and overcome. They are happy at least as happy as can be expected.

Finally, in the book of Revelations, John the Jewish prophet wrote about the 12 tribes that will make up the mysterious 144,000 messengers.

John’s list of tribes that make up the 144,000 are in Revelations chapter 7. This time Dan and Ephraim do not make the list.

The list is Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Napthtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Again the message changes and so does the meaning.

I will praise the LORD (my husband) * Because the LORD (my husband) has looked upon me and seen my affliction * He granted good fortune * Happy am I * I have struggled * He has caused me to forget * Because the LORD (my husband) has heard me how I feel unloved * Now He will become attached to me * God has given me my reward * to live and dwell with me * To add to me another son * The Son of His right hand.

This is the last and I think the most powerful message. This is what I believe will be the future world view that the “authentic Jew” will have in the last days as they come to faith in Jesus. I use the word authentic because of those in the last days who will call themselves Jews but are impostors according to Rev. 2:9.

The new attitude of the authentic Jew is first that of praising the Lord. They praise him because He has seen their affliction and granted them good fortune and made them happy, causing them to forget their affliction, their struggle and their feelings of being unloved, because the Lord has become attached to them and given them the reward of dwelling with them and in them through the Son whom He has added to them, none other than the son of His right hand.

Could these messages be a strange coincidence? I can only imagine what the mathematical probability would be.

Please note too that it seems the scripture is sending us another mysterious clue. Jacob’s son Dan is left out of this list in Revelations.

Dan’s name means “to Judge.” In the final message God is giving us is that those who receive the good gift and with whom God dwells are joined to Him, having accepted this additional son, the Son of the Father’s right hand, and that judgment is removed.

What a wonderful message of hope and redemption this Son of his right hand brings to the Jew and to the world.

My understanding of scripture is the Jewish people will accept Jesus as their Messiah in very large numbers in Israel just prior to the second coming of Jesus.

God will always have a special feeling for Abraham and his children who He entrusted with the scriptures to and who eventually birthed the Messiah. One of the last things that Jesus said prior to his death was that he would not return until the Jewish people were saying about him, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Even now, like never before in the history of Israel, has the Messianic Jewish (Jewish believers in Jesus) church grown like it is today. For me, this is simply another sign that we are in the last days of the earth as we know it.

Your comments are welcome.


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