Geography and Geology and Tribal Character, Reuben, Gad, Simeon, Levi, Yehudah
Tamar Weissman, "Tribal Lands. The Twelve Tribes of Israel in their Ancestral Territories," ca. 350 pages, Jerusalem, 2019. hardcover, illustrated.
This book examines Israelite Tribal Territories with their geographies and archaeological findings, alongside Biblical Heroes according to the Bible and Midrashim, etc, who were in those areas, and form this and other matter the Tribal Characters are deduced.
This Review is intended only partly to give the reader a general idea of the book. Our main interest is to take note of anything of particular importance to Brit-Am. Our aim is to find that which may help us appreciate the Tribes for who they were are and if possible assist in identifying them.
There is a Forward by Rabbanit Shani Tarragin. She notes concerning the main mothers of the 12 Tribes,
# Rachel and Leah fundamentally impacted the individual natures of each child... including those sons born by surrogate... they connect us to the Land of Israel, already intimating through their lives and actions the proper regions suited to each of their children.#
Rabbanit Shani quotes from the Commentary of SEFORNO (Numbers 13:2) that when Moses sent spies to examine the Land he chose experts in geography and geology each one charged with choosing the location most befitting their Tribe. We already intuit from this that the different Tribal Areas reflect the varied Tribal personalities.
The authoress, Tamar Weissman, describes the vast spaces allotted to Reuben and its pasture lands varying from dead salty regions adjoining the Dead Sea to more verdant regions further north. Reuben also grew grain. \
# One may conjecture where Reuben was taken: perhaps he was relocated in the lands near Khabur River in northeast Syria, or maybe he settled in Gaul and left his mark on the origins of French culture. #
This indicates a certain familiarity with Brit-Am teachings or something like them.
In the area of Gad bronze vessels were found and the Bible recalls the King of Tyre establishing foundries in the area (1-Kings 7:46, 2-Chronicles 7:47).
We identify Gad with the Swedes of Sweden with whom metallurgy has always been important.
Abel Shittim where the Israelites began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab (Numbers 32:36) was in the region of Reuben. Gad and Reuben were intermingled. The place where Moses died is not known but it was somewhere on the Mountain of Nebo in the territory of Gad,
Deir Allah (the Biblical Succoth) in the region of Gad was where was found an inscription speaking of Balaam the pagan prophet.
Simeon had both profligate and puritanical tendencies.
The Church fathers Tertullian and Hipollytus received from the Jews the tradition that the Pharisees and Scribes were from the Tribes of Levi and Simeon. The heroine of the apocryphal Book of Judith (who cut off the head of the enemy general) was from Simeon.
The southern portions of the Land in which Simeon dwelt are relatively barren. They require Love of the Land, dedication, expertise, and wisdom to develop. Simeon has a "Jewish head," meaning native ingenuity. At first the Simeonites had dwelt in the southern portion of Judah but in the time of David they were moved out (1-Chronicles 4:31).
The name of Levi connotes "accompaniment." Levi helped bind Israelites to God. Levi had musical abilities.
The Levites had 48 cities scattered throughout all Israel. Each city could serve as a city of Refuge. There were 6 main cities of refuge and 42 subsidiary ones. Perpetrators of unintentional manslaughter could flee to these cities and had to remain in them. Their enforced proximity to the Religious Instructions of the Levites would have had a moderating effect on their character. The Levites were zealous and the Hasmonean (Maccabee) revolt against Hellenistic Secular influences was headed by the Levites.
# Chaim Mageni... noted that famous Judean towns, such as Bethlehem and Herodium, offered up 'two faces:' a face to the mountain and a face to the wilderness... The hills were prime land for agriculture, and the Midbar [wilderness[ was naturally suited to rising livestock. Mageni suggested that in the family of Yishai from Bethlehem, the older sons were farmers, while the younger son (David) shepherded the flock, since the land suited both occupations. #
# This nahalah [Tribal Inheritance] was the largest of them all, expressing the grandeur of the shevet [tribe]. Imposing mountains, gentle coast, placid plains, generous hills, blasted desert, Nahalat Yehudah has all temperaments. Just as a king is not a lone man of his own but is a reflection of the nation, so too Judah contained within its territory all manner of landscape, a perfect distillation of varied perspectives. #
Continued at Tamar Weissman-2.