Journey Through The Scriptures

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Part II

Lesson 3: Rulers of the Land

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 49:8–12; Deuteronomy 33:7; Ruth 4:18–22; 1 Samuel 16:1–13)

The tribe of Judah had a long and storied history as the leading tribe of Israel. According to Numbers 2:9, one aspect of Judah’s leadership was to go out ahead of the Tabernacle when the camp of Israel moved. Judah’s leadership was political and spiritual as well as military, since it was the tribe from which King David came – through Perez, Judah’s son. In God’s providence, He used the sordid incident of Judah sleeping with his daughter-in-law (Genesis 38) to establish the lineage of Israel’s greatest king.

The history of the tribe of Judah is intertwined with that of Israel herself. Judah took early prominence among the tribes because of the shortcomings of Jacob’s older sons, which was all in keeping with Jacob’s prophecy in Genesis 49.

David and his son, Solomon, ruled during Israel’s golden era before the nation was split into the northern and southern kingdoms after Solomon’s death. The southern kingdom adopted the name Judah, and remained long after the northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 722 BCE.

Study Questions

  1. How did Judah, who was Jacob's fourth son, assume prominence among the tribes of Israel?
  2. When did Judah's brothers begin to bow down to him, as Jacob had prophesied?
  3. Why are David and Solomon considered to be the greatest kings of Israel?
  4. Why was Samuel fearful of anointing David as king over Israel?

Something to Think About

The Bible records a tremendous commendation of David. Samuel said, “The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). God is always seeking for people whose hearts are set on loving and following Him. May such a blessing be said of us!