and the Amazing Technicolor® Dreamcoat

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Sons of Jacob (= Israel)

Here is a listing of the sons of Jacob according to their mothers.  You can find the summary list in Genesis 35:23-26.  The complete story of the birth of the sons is found in Genesis 29; 30:1-24; and 35:16-20.

The story of Joseph and his brothers is found in Genesis 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 45.  The most serious departure from the Biblical account is that, according to scripture, the brothers made two trips to Egypt to buy grain.  Another departure is in the scene when Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, he runs away, but she is able to grab his garment, and then claims to Potiphar that he tried to seduce her! (It’s all in Genesis 39.)

According to custom, the sons of the wives (Leah and Rachel) have priority over the sons of the maids, and in order of birth. Thus Reuben should have been Jacob’s principal heir, even though Jacob’s favorite wife was Rachel, and he seems to have wanted Joseph to be his principal heir, as indicated in Genesis 48, where Jacob blesses Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.  But Reuben violated his father’s bed (Genesis 35.22), and Simeon and Levi killed the men of Shechem in revenge for the rape of their sister Dinah (Genesis 36), leaving Judah as the primary heir. King David was from the tribe of Judah, and he became king of all Israel. The House of David ruled in Jerusalem until its capture by the Chaldeans around 640 BC.

The 12 sons of Jacob were, according to the Bible, the ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel.  The book of Joshua gives their tribal allotment in the promised land; check the back matter in most Bibles to see a map of this.

Read more on the back story of Jacob’s family.

Note:  All Biblical links here and elsewhere on this page are to the web site Bible Gateway, and references cited are from the King James Version (KJV), partly because that version is not under copyright.  On the Bible Gateway site you can find various versions, the ones I recommend listed below.

The New American Bible (NAB) is the version used by the Roman Catholic church in the United States, although there are some differences in the published version and the version used in the liturgy.

Short Articles

Last updated 7/24/04 and 02/28/19 .  Please email me: tf_mcq <at> with any corrections or suggestions.