The Tribe Of Naphtali
“Naphtali is a deer let loose;
He uses beautiful words.
Genesis 49:21 (NKJV)
Naphtali is the last of the 4 sons of Jacob’s wives’ handmaidens. And, true to form, Naphtali is given a very abbreviated blessing.
Naphtali is told that his descendants shall be as a hind let loose. A hind is female deer, a doe. And, we find many passages throughout the Bible that make reference to a “hind”… always in a favorable light.
We’re told in this single verse that Naphtali is destined to be of graceful beauty…. swift and quick to react.
When we look at Naphtali in times after they entered into the promised land, we find the most prominent mention of that tribe in Judges 5, in the Song of Deborah and Barak, where Barak and his tribe of Naphtali are singled out for the special acts of bravery in a significant military conflict between the Israelites and some Canaanite tribes.
For me, though, most significant is an unprecedented honor the tribe of Naphtali received: for it was in Naphtali’s territory, now part of the Galilee, that Jesus recruited the most of His disciples and then began His ministry.
Interestingly, the prophet Isaiah, in Chapter 9 verse 1, prophesied that the insignificant territory of Naphtali would be seen as a receiving a great light.
Hope in the Messiah
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
Isaiah 9:1 (NLT)
And, of course, Isaiah 9 is one of the greatest prophecies concerning the coming of Christ in the entire Bible. So, Naphtali was greatly blessed, even if not one other thing of importance could be said about this tribe.
The tribe of Naphtali had its ups and downs. Its history includes incomplete obedience and shades of cowardice, but it also includes bravery under Gideon and a godly support of King David. Probably the greatest lesson we can take from Naphtali is that God exalts the humble.
Well, 10 down and 2 to go. Up next… Joseph.
To Be Continued…