The death of Abraham in Genesis 25:8 signaled a change in the course of direction God would take with His people.
The Bible next turns to Abraham's son, Isaac. From Isaac comes Jacob. Jacob produces twelve sons, and the 12 tribes of Israel begin to emerge and take shape. God was moving in stages, and one must keep in mind the formation of these tribes took place over the course of hundreds of years.
Modern day scholarship dismisses the notion that the 12 tribes of Israel are divisions of a larger group, the nation of Israel. They also deny the Biblical account of these tribes all developing naturally, over an extended period of time, from the patriarchal origins.
Many scholars feel the 12 tribes of Israel were joined together out of a joint historical need, whether the threat of invasion, famine, or some other happening. The Habiru formed just out of such circumstances.
Some claim the tribes were formed once they were inside of Canaan, toward the end of the Judges, and the beginning of Saul's reign. Map of 12 Tribes of Israel tribal allotments. Still others claim the 12 tribes of Israel "may", in fact, have been formed in some sort of desert wandering. However, Canaan was certainly not conquered simultaneously by these twelve tribes. This school believes the conquest of Canaan took place over the course of multiple, smaller infiltrations, rather than one large invasion.
These differing schools of thought, however, cannot agree on when these tribes formed, or, when these tribes united. They are unable to provide an explanation which accounts for the formation of the 12 tribes of Israel at their earliest stages. The Torah, on the other hand, provides just that.
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