Zebulun (also Zebulon, Zabulon or Zaboules, [in "Antiquities of the Jews" by Josephus] Hebrew: זְבֻלוּן or זְבוּלֻן or זְבוּלוּן, Tiberian Hebrew Unicode|Zəḇūlūn, Standard Hebrew Unicode|Zəvulun, commonly זבולון "Zvulun" in Israel) was, according to the Books of Genesis and Numbers, [Genesis 46:14] [Numbers 26:26] the sixth son of Jacob and Leah, and the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Zebulun. Some Biblical scholars believe this to be an eponymous metaphor providing an aetiology of the connectedness of the tribe to others in the Israelite confederation. ["Peake's commentary on the Bible"] With Leah as a matriarch, Biblical scholars believe the tribe to have been regarded by the text's authors as a part of the original Israelite confederation. ["Jewish Encyclopedia", "Tribe of Zebulun"]

The name is derived from the Northwest Semitic root "zbl", common in 2nd millennium BC Ugaritic texts as an epithet (title) of the god Baal, as well as in Phoenician and (frequently) in biblical Hebrew in personal names. [ [http://www.asor.org/seal.article.html "Precarious Scholarship: Problems with Proposing that the Seal of Yzbl was Queen Jezebel's", Christopher A. Rollston, BASOR 2007] . The article concerns a seal ascribed to Jezebel; the first paragraph gives an overview of the root /zbl/, which Jezebel shares with Zebulun.]

The text of the Torah gives two different etymologies for the name "Zebulun", which textual scholars attribute to different sources - one to the Yahwist and the other to the Elohist; [Richard Elliott Friedman, "Who wrote the Bible"] the first being that it derives from "zebed", the word for "gift", in reference to Leah's view that her gaining of six sons was a "gift" from God; the second being that it derives from "yizbeleni", meaning "honour", in reference to Leah's hope that Jacob would give her honour now that she had given birth to six sons. In Deuteronomy, however an allusion is made to a third potential etymology [Deuteronomy 33:19] - that it may be connected with "zibhe", literally meaning "sacrifice", in reference to commercial activities of the tribe of Zebulun ["Jewish Encyclopedia"] - a commercial agreement made at Mount Tabor between the tribe of Zebulun and a group of non-Israelites was referred to as "zibhe-tzedek", literally meaning "sacrifice to justice" or "sacrifice to Tzedek". [ibid]

The Torah states that Zebulun had three sons - Sered, Elon, and Jahleel - each the eponymous founder of a clan. Beyond this, there is little other reference to Zebulun.

The Tomb of Zebulun is located in Sidon, Lebanon. In the past, towards the end of Iyyar, Jews from the most distant parts of Palestine would make a pilgrimage to this tomb.

See also

*Tribe of Zebulun


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  • Zebulun — noun a) Tenth son of Jacob, by his wife Leah. b) One of the Israelite tribes, descended from Zebulun …   Wiktionary

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