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Naphtali (Francisco de Zurbarán).jpg
Painting by Francisco de Zurbarán (from Jacob and his twelve sons, c. 1640–45)
ChildrenJahziel (son)
Guni (son)
Jezer (son)
Shillem (son)
RelativesReuben (half brother)
Simeon (half brother)
Levi (half brother)
Judah (half brother)
Dan (brother)
Gad (half brother)
Asher (half brother)
Issachar (half brother)
Zebulun (half brother)
Dinah (half sister)
Joseph (half brother)
Benjamin (half brother)

According to the Book of Genesis, Naphtali (/ˈnæftəl/; Hebrew: נַפְתָּלִי, Modern: Naftalī, Tiberian: Nap̄tālī, "my struggle") was the last of the two sons of Jacob and Bilhah (Jacob's sixth son). He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Naphtali.

Some biblical commentators have suggested that the name Naphtali may refer to the struggle between Rachel and Leah for the favours of Jacob. Bilhah was the handmaid of Rachel, who was infertile at the time, and had persuaded Jacob to have a child with Bilhah as a proxy for having one with herself.

Biblical references[edit]

According to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Naphtali was a swift runner, though this appears to have been inferred from the Blessing of Jacob, which equates Naphtali to a hind.[citation needed] However, Biblical scholars believe this to actually be a description of the tribe of Naphtali.

Naphtali is listed in Deuteronomy 34.2 when God takes Moses up to the mountain of Nebo and shows him the extent of the land which he had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. See article on Tribe of Simeon for a map of the twelve tribes of Israel.


According to Genesis 46:24, Naphtali had four sons: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. The name of his wife/wives are not given. He and his family migrated to Egypt,[2] with the rest of the clan, where they remained until the Exodus.

According to the apocryphal Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, he died at 137 and was buried in Egypt.[3]

Testament of Naphtali[edit]

In this apocryphal material, Naphtali gave his sons no commandment except regarding the fear of God, that they should serve Him and follow after Him, also admonished them not to join themselves unto the sons of Joseph but join the sons of Levi and Judah. He also had a vision about the division of tribes of Israel and told to them that Abraham was chosen by God for his faith.[4]


  1. ^ Genesis 46:24
  2. ^ Genesis 46:24
  3. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Nephtali" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  4. ^ The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, R. H. Charles


External links[edit]

  • Media related to Naphtali at Wikimedia Commons