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Biblical People
Zebulun (zebu-lun), KJV of NT Zabulon (zabu-lon). [Heb. Zebulun, “exalted,” or “habitation”; Old Babylonian Ziblanum; Egyptian T_bªwnw; Ugaritic Zbln; Gr. Zabouloµn.]

1.    The 6th son of Jacob by Leah (Gen 30:19, 20). He had 3 sons: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel (ch 46:14). When Jacob blessed his sons he predicted that Zebulun's descendants would live near the sea in the northern part of Palestine toward Sidon (ch 49:13).

2.    The tribe descended from Zebulun, 1. It was divided into 3 tribal families, whose ancestors were Zebulun's 3 sons (Num 26:26, 27). During the early wilderness wandering the tribe was led by Eliab, son of Helon (chs 1:9; 10:16), and later by Elizaphan, son of Parnach (ch 34:25). Gaddiel, son of Sodi, represented Zebulun among the spies (ch 13:10). After the tribes entered Canaan and gathered before the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, the Zebulunites stood with 5 other tribes on Mount Ebal and pronounced the curses that would descend on the people in the case of transgressions (Deut 27:13; cf. Jos 8:32-35).

When the country was distributed by lot among the 12 tribes, Zebulun received territory in the center of southern Galilee. The territory was bounded on the east and north by Naphtali, on the south by Issachar and Manasseh, and on the west by Asher (Jos 19:10-16). No major cities were found in this area, but it was strategically located, controlling the east-west highway that ran through the Valley of Jezreel (Palestine Under Joshua and the Judges), and it was blessed with fertile soil.

The tribe of Zebulun played an important role in the war of liberation led by Barak and Deborah to throw off the oppressive yoke of Jabin of Hazor (Jgs 4:6-10; 5:14-18). It also played an important part in Gideon's war against the Midianites (ch 6:35). Elon, one of the minor judges, was Zebulunite (ch 12:11, 12). When the northern tribes went to Hebron and invited David to become ruler over the whole kingdom, Zebulun was represented by the impressive number of 50,000 warriors (1 Chr 12:33, 40). David's governor for Zebulun's territory was Ishmaiah, son of Obadiah (ch 27:19). With the other northern tribes it seceded from Judah and fell into idolatry. It suffered much in the wars with the Syrians and Assyrians, but Isaiah prophesied a glorious compensation through the Messianic light that would shine in its territory (Is 9:1, 2). This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus Christ grew up in the midst of its territory and conducted much of His ministry there (Mt 4:12-16). A number of Zebulunites followed the invitation of King Hezekiah and celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem (2 Chr 30:10, 11, 18). There are no further historical references to the tribe. The prophet Ezekiel includes the tribe of Zebulun among the 12 tribes of his ideal Israel (Eze 48:33), and the tribe is mentioned in connection with the vision of the sealing of the 144,000 (Rev 7:8).

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.

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