Twelve Tribes of Israel

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The Twelve Tribes of Israel (sometimes just the twelve tribes) are the twelve divisions of the 'children of Israel [Jacob]'. After the death of Solomon, they divided into two kingdoms:

  • the southern kingdom of Judah, which contained Jerusalem, the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin;
  • the northern kingdom of Israel, the territory of the tribes of Asher, Dan, Gad, Issachar, Levi, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and Zebulun. In the eighth century BCE, these were deported to Assyria - in the Bible, it is reported that the deportation was of the entire population of the northern kingdom; but archaeology (and common sense) indicates that this is an exaggeration. Be that as it may, the 'Ten Tribes' have been known as the 'Lost Tribes' since then, and have given rise to many improbable fictions and legends.