What is the birth order of Jacob's thirteen children?
Jacob married two sisters, Leah and Rachel. He eventually fathered twelve sons and a daughter as recorded in Genesis 29—30 and Genesis 35. These sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel and were blessed according to the covenant God had made with their great-grandfather Abraham.
Leah was the older of the two sisters and she birthed Jacob his first four sons. In birth order they were: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. When Rachel saw that she was barren, she gave Jacob her handmaiden, Bilhah, to become a surrogate mother on her behalf. Bilhah then gave birth to Dan and Naphtali. Leah, no longer having babies of her own, decided to do the same thing with her maidservant, Zilpah. Zilpah then bore Gad and Asher. Leah again became pregnant and had three additional children: Issachar, Zebulun, and Jacob's only daughter, Dinah. Finally, God opened Rachel's womb and she gave birth to Joseph who became Jacob's favorite son.
After Joseph's birth, Jacob decided to move his family from Paddan Aram, where he had fled from his brother, back home to Canaan. In Canaan, Rachel gave birth to Jacob's final son, Benjamin, but, tragically, she died in childbirth. So the final birth order of Jacob's thirteen children by these four women was: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah, Joseph, and Benjamin.
This family, with its sordid history of deceit, jealousy, and even murder, was the family God chose through which to make Himself known (Romans 9:4–5). May their story be an encouragement that God can use any family in order to accomplish His purposes.
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