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Naphtali: Wikis


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According to the Book of Genesis, Naphtali (pronounced /ˈnæftəˌlaɪ/) (Hebrew: נַפְתָּלִי, Modern Naftali Tiberian Nap̄tālî ; "My struggle") was the second son of Jacob with Bilhah. He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Naphtali. However, some Biblical scholars view this as postdiction, an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation[1].



The text of the Torah argues that the name of Naphtali refers to the struggle between Rachel and Leah for the favours of Jacob; Bilhah was the handmaid of Rachel, who had thought herself to be infertile, and had persuaded Jacob to have a child with Bilhah as a proxy for having one with herself.

Biblical references

The Biblical account shows Bilhah's status as a handmaid change to an actual wife of Jacob Genesis 30:4. Her handmaid status is regarded by some biblical scholars as indicating that the authors saw the tribe of Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin;[2] this may have been the result of a typographic error, as the names of Naphtali and Issachar appear to have changed places elsewhere in the text[3], and the birth narrative of Naphtali and Issachar is regarded by textual scholars as having been spliced together from its sources in a manner which has highly corrupted the narrative.[1][4]

According to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Naphtali was a swift runner, though this appears to have been inferred from the Blessing of Jacob, which equates Naphtali to a hind.[2] However, Biblical scholars believe this to actually be a description of the tribe of Naphtali, particularly since textual scholars regard the Blessing of Jacob as having been written long after the tribe settled permanently in Canaan.[1][2]

Naphtali's family

According to Genesis 46:24, Naphtali had four sons: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. The name of his wife/wives are not given. He and his family migrated to Egypt,[5] with the rest of the clan where they remained until the Exodus.

According to the apocryphal Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, he died aged 137 and was buried in Egypt.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Peake's commentary on the Bible
  2. ^ a b c Jewish Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Tribe of Issachar
  4. ^ Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?
  5. ^ Genesis 46:24
  6. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Nephtali". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  

This article incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), a publication now in the public domain.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

NAPHTALI, in the Bible, the name of an Israelite tribe, the "son" of Jacob by Bilhah, Rachel's maid, and the uterine brother of Dan (Gen. xxx. 8). It lay to the south of Dan in the eastern half of upper Galilee (Josh. xix. 32-39), a fertile mountainous district (cf. Gen. xlix. 21; Deut. xxxiii. 23), open to the surrounding influences of Phoenicia and Aram. Apart from its share in the war against Sisera (Judg. iv. seq., see Deborah), little is known of it. It evidently suffered in the bloody conflicts of Damascus with Israel (1 Kings xv. 20), and was depopulated by Tiglath-Pileser IV. (2 Kings xv. 29; Isa. ix. I). Naphtali and Dan are "brothers," perhaps partly on geographical grounds, but Dan also had a seat in the south (south-west of Ephraim), and the name of the "mother" Bilhah is apparently connected with Bilhan, an Edomite and also a Benjamite name (Gen. xxxvi. 27; I Chron. vii. 10) .

For the view connecting Naphtali (perhaps a geographical rather than a tribal term), or rather its Israelite inhabitants, with the south see the full discussion by H. W. Hogg, Ency. Bib. iii. col. 3332 sqq with references.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Old Testament Hebrew נַפְתָּלִי (naftali), a son of Jacob.

Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) Sixth son of Jacob, by his wife's handmaid Bilhah.
  2. (Biblical) One of the Israelite tribes, descended from Naphtali.
  3. A male given name


  • 1611King James Version of the Bible, Genesis 35:22b-26
    Now the sons of Jacob were twelve: 23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: 24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: 25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: 26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram.
  • 1611King James Version of the Bible, Joshua 21:6
    And the children of Gershon had by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, and out of the tribe of Asher, and out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, thirteen cities.

Derived terms

  • Naphtalite


See also


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: my wrestling

The fifth son of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid (Gen 30:8). When Jacob went down into Egypt, Naphtali had four sons, Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem (Gen 46:24). Little is known of him as an individual.

See also: Tribe of Naphtali

This article needs to be merged with NAPHTALI (Jewish Encyclopedia).
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Facts about NaphtaliRDF feed
Child of Jacob  +, and Bilhah  +
Parent of Jahzeel  +, Guni  +, Jezer  +, and SHALLUM (Jewish Encyclopedia)  +


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