Naphtali was one of the twelve sons of Jacob. His mother was Bilhah, who was a servant to Rachel, who was Jacob's wife. Bilhah also gave birth to Jacob's son Dan. Naphtali was the founder of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel. A region in northern Israel was given his name, near the Sea of Galilee. When Jacob blesses his sons in Genesis 49, he describes Naphtali as a deer that has been set free. (Genesis 49:21).
The Concordia Self-Study Bible NIV suggests that maybe Naphtali was described in this way because of his independent spirit. Some important people in the Bible are from the region of Naphtali. Barak, who commanded the armies with Deborah, was from the region of Naphtali (Judges 4:6).
The Tribe of Naphtali is praised for bravery in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:18) in defeating Sisera and the Canaanites. When David became king over all of Israel, the tribe of Naphtali joined David in the town of Hebron with a large army. Jesus started His ministry in Naphtali, in the area of Galilee, and calls His first disciples from its shores (Matthew 4:13-22).
In Revelation 7:1-8, Naphtali is among the tribes who are promised the seal of God for 12,000 of their members.
The name Naphtali means "My struggle."
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