By: Emil G. Hirsch
The sixth son of Leah (Gen. xxx. 20), and hence the name of the tribe descended from him (Num. i. 9, vii. 24, x. 16; Ps. lxviii. 28 [A. V. 27]). In the division of the land Zebulun was assigned districts north of Issachar (Josh. xix. 11) and west and south of Naphtali (ib. verse 34) and east of Asher (ib. verse 27). Still, Gen. xlix. 13 and Deut. xxxiii. 18 et seq. suggest that Zebulun must have possessed also territory bordering on the sea; and, indeed, the boundaries detailed in Josh. xix. are unintelligible. Zebulun's possessions were not extensive, but were fertile and were crossed by important roads from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. This fact explains the reference to Zebulun's commerce with other clans, even such as were not Hebrews ("'ammim"; Deut. xxxiii. 19; see Josephus, "Ant." v. 1, § 22), with whom at Mount Tabor Zebulun entered into commercial covenant relations (Deut. l.c.) = "zibḥe-ẓedeḳ," allusion to which the author of the verse seemingly recognizes by assonance in the name "Zebulun" (with "zebaḥ"). Reported as rather populous while in the wilderness (Num. i. 30, xxvi. 26), Zebulun seems later to have had within its borders numerous Canaanites (Judges i. 30; Isa. viii. 23). Its prowess is mentioned in the song of Deborah (Judges v. 14, 18; comp. ib. iv. 6, 10; vi. 35). One of the judges, Elon, is said to have been of the tribe (Judges xii. 11). It is probable that Zebulun at a comparatively early period was incorporated in Issachar or Asher (see omission of Zebulun in I Kings iv., xv. 20; II Kings xii. 18). The territory was annexed to the Assyrian empire in 734-733 by Tiglath-pileser.