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The Flags of the Tribes

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JewishTreats.org

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress resolved that: “the flag of the 13 United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: That the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” In celebration of this resolution, June 14 was officially established as Flag Day (as of 1916).

The Tribes of Israel also had flags, but these were more like organizational guides. By Divine order, the Israelites encamped “each person by his flag, according to the insignia of his ancestor’s house, at a distance surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp” (Numbers 2:2). According to the Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:7, this meant that each tribe had a specific color and emblem:

Reuben – Red flag, with mandrake flowers
Simeon – Green flag, with buildings of the city of Shechem
Levi – Red, white and black flag, with the High Priest’s breastplate
Judah – Sky blue flag, with a lion
Issachar – Bluish black flag, with a sun and moon
Zebulun – White flag, with a ship
Dan – Blue flag, with a snake
Naphtali – Deep wine colored flag, with a deer
Gad – Black and white flag, with a tent camp
Asher – Pearlescent colored flag, with an olive tree
Joseph – Black flag, with Egypt depicted upon it (Since this tribe was divided into Joseph’s two sons, their flags were similar. However, Ephraim’s flag had a bull, while Menasseh’s had a wild ox.)
Benjamin – Multicolored flag, with a wolf

*Some flags refer to historical occurrences (Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Joseph) while others reflect Jacob’s blessings (Judah, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher and Benjamin).

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One Comment »

  • Jack says:

    Hi, I am interested in the subject of Israel’s tribal flags and I thought you might be interested in some things I’ve found in my studies.

    Sincerely,

    Jack

    Shevatim Degelim

    Torah Portion Bemibar, Numbers 2, and the encampments of the twelve tribes around the Mishkan.

    (Num. 2:2) “Every one of the sons of Israel shall pitch by his own Degel with the sign [Owth] of their father’s house.”

    Here are the names in the chronological birth order and each of their twelve patriarchal Degelim colors.

    [1] Reuben – Red square flag, with mandrake flowers.
    [2] Simeon – Green square flag, with buildings of the city of Shechem.
    [3] Levi – The exterior square flag frame is made of three striped sections of white, black, and red extending vertically. Superimposed at the center is the image of the Hoshen [the priestly Breastplate, which itself has three rows of the twelve square tribal Degelim surrounded by the the varicolored woven colors combining gold, sky-blue, purple, crimson / scarlet, and white. They are a blended fabric motif surrounding all twelve tribal Degelim.] The central square, just described, could be said to be the flag of YHWH‘s kingdom. [In the ancient Semitic concept, vertical fabric stripes, known as tiger stripes are a sign of honor.]
    [4] Judah – Sky blue square flag, with an image of a lion.
    [5] Dan – Blue square flag, with an image of a snake on a scale.
    [6] Naphtali – [clear wine] Purple square flag [burgundy], with an image of a hind.
    [7] Gad – Grey [a varicolored blend of black white and sky blue color thread cord then interlacing together into weave fabric] square flag, with an image of an encampment of tents.
    [8] Asher – Blue-green square flag, with an image of a woman’s turban and an olive tree.
    [9] Issachar – [dark] Blue square flag, with an image of a donkey carrying a saddle bag, or of the sun and the moon.
    [10] Zebulun – White square flag, with an image of a ship.
    [11] Joseph – Black square flag, with an image of a sheaf of wheat.
    * a. Ephraim – Black square flag, with an image of a bullock.
    * b. Manasseh – Black square flag, with an image of an oryx.
    [12] Benjamin – All tribal colors in a varicolored combination, including all tribal colors of red, green, white, black, blue, bluish-green and purple, the seven [7] varicolored thread cord used in their fabric Flag.

    {The varicolored is a twisted blend of these colors into a single cord then interlaced together into woven fabric.} The varicolored square flag has a central image of a wolf.

    The square Breastplate is a Hebraic concept that used four sides square as a symbol for a deeply spiritual aspect that is convey in the Scripture, Hebraic history, thoughts, ideas, dreams and written prophecy that convey the presence of, accompanying by or being a companion to YHWH.

    Four equal sides square. As each tribal Degel flew surrounding the picturesque Mishkan [Tabernacle], with the Levitical Degel by its’ entrance, all their tents appeared to create a square camp of Zion. The Jewish study Bible [JSB] commentary on (Numbers 2:3-31): The twelve tribes are arranged to form a square camp [around the Tabernacle] of four divisions with three tribes in each.

    Refer to in (Ezekiel 1:10-28) are found the four living creatures there what Ezekiel saw had the precise faces of these four divisional Degelim. The four living creatures match the four leading tribal division in (Number 2) surrounding the Tabernacle.

    Ezekiel spoke of the symbolic four and square which are collectively representation of Zion. The four gold threads denote His sacred name, His name is written with four golden Hebrew letters. There four tassels in the four corners of the garments. The four Israelite division, four threads groups represent the perfection square, His Tabernacle and the square Holy of Holies, His dwelling place, His venerated Kingdom, The Square Breastplate and Integrity of the four equal side square Degel design, A intense thought associated with the twelve Breastplate Jewels, is point out by ancient sources [Yad, Kley HaMikdash 9:9 and Midrash HaGadol] that “The Hoshen stones were Square shape Jewels.” The consideration is that the Breastplate Jewels where Square representations of the Israelite square Degelim. All serve as a symbol to representation what its said in (Ezekiel 1:28) “The presence of YHWH.”

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