Tribes of Jacob that Were Not Hebrews
H. Abdul Al-Dahir
The Biblical book Genesis lists the sons of the Israelite patriarch Jacob as Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The first six sons were from his wife Leah, the second set of two sons was from his wife Rachel, the third set of two sons was from the concubine Bilhah and the fourth set of two was from the concubine Zilpah. It may surprise the Biblical reader to learn that most of these ‘sons’ of Jacob were not Hebrews. Levi, meaning ‘coiling ones’, and Judah or Juda, meaning ‘Yah is (the god) Wadd’, originated with the Minean and Midianite tribal confederations where both Yah and Wadd were worshiped. Gad was the Semitic god of good fortune. Simeon is a combined Egyptian/Hebrew theophoric name whose original meaning in Hebrew was ‘(the god) On heard’. Reuben is another Egyptian/Hebrew combined theophoric name which originally meant ‘son of Ra’ but was modified to mean ‘Behold, a son’. Benjamin, meaning ‘son of the south’ was a designation for Edom. The remainder of these ‘sons’ were Aegean Islanders who were known to the Hebrews as ‘Ionians’. These Aegean tribes were Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali. Included with these Ionians tribes were Joseph’s son Manasseh and grandson Machir. Joseph’s second born was Ephraim, the patriarch of a tribe by the same name whose connection was to Egypt. Since Joseph was the patriarch of the largest Aegean tribe, Manasseh, research must begin with his name.
Joseph is one of the most difficult names to interpret. The name in Hebrew has 2 possible meanings: yasaf meaning increased (Gen 30:24) or Yw (Yhwh) takes away or ‘asaf’ in Hebrew (Gen 30:23). Both meanings are appropriate. The meaning of Yasaf as ‘increased’ also shows up in the name of Joseph’s son, Ephraim, whose name means ‘double abundance’ in Arabic. However, ‘asaf’ is another possible meaning because it means remove, take away, to recover from a disease (2 K 5:3,6,7 & 11). Joseph would mean Yw or Yh causes one to recover from disease. According to the Wikipedia article entitled Resheph:
“Resheph was a Canaanite deity which provided protection against plague and war. . In Egyptian iconography Resheph is depicted wearing the crown of Upper Egypt (White Crown), surmounted in front by the head of a gazelle. He has links with Theban war god Montu and was thought of as a guardian deity in battle by many Egyptian pharaohs. Although the iconography of Resheph shares the gazelle with that of the Egyptian-Canaanite Shed, Izak Cornelius writes that “the rest of the attributes are totally different.”
According to myth, Resheph exerted a benign influence against disease…Resheph became popular in Egypt under Amenhotep II (18th dynasty), where he served as god of horses and chariots. Originally adopted into the royal cult, Resheph became a popular deity in the Ramesside Period, at the same time disappearing from royal inscriptions. In this later period, Resheph is often accompanied by Qetesh and Min. The ancient town of Arsuf in central Israel still incorporates the name Resheph, thousands of years after his worship ceased.”
Resheph also accompanied Qetesh, who is Asherah/Hathor, a deity who is a combination of the Semitic goddess Asherah and the Egyptian goddess Hathor. This combined Egyptian and Semitic goddess was the deity worshiped by the Egyptian enslaved Semitic miners at the Timna copper mines. The god Resheph was a Semitic god adopted by the Egyptians and associated with the female deity with whom Yhwh was also associated; Asherah/Hathor. Like Resheph, Joseph had both Semitic and Egyptian associations.
Resheph was also the name of Joseph’s grandson through his son, Ephraim according to 1 Chr 7:25. Resheph had an older brother named Raphach which is a corrupt form of raphe and it means physician. The reference to Rephach being a corrupt form of ‘raphe’ can be found in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ‘rapha’ or ‘rafa’ is an eponym for Ephraim’s tribe. So, Ephraim’s name as a homonym for the root ‘raffa’ would imply that he was ‘doubly resplendent’. As a homonym, the word ‘raffah’ means well-being, luxury which is very close to the Arabic meaning of ‘doubly abundant’. Ephraim’s name implies that he is not only doubly resplendent but he is also doubly wealthy, i.e., he has abundant wealth, as well as doubly healthy. In Hebrew Ephraim’s name derives from the word ‘parah’ (fruit) and the suffix ‘aym’ (double). The name means doubly fruitful in Hebrew.
There may be a connection between Resheph, who was worshipped in Egypt as a god of healing, and Imhotep. For Resheph as the Egyptian god of health and healing, refer to the article “Two Faces of Resheph in Egyptian Sources”.
Joseph’s name, however, is very likely to be of Egyptian origin. His name in Egyptian would be a combination of iiw (welcome) and sf (forgiveness, mercy) or iiwsf pronounced as Yusef in Hebrew. His name means welcome forgiveness. He welcomed his brothers who sold him into slavery according to Genesis and forgave them. The hieroglyphics for his name can be found in Gardiners Sign List and they are M18-M17-D54-G43-Z4-O34-I9-D19-A2.
Joseph’s son, Ephraim, fathered offspring with Egyptian theophoric names as: Shuwthelach which means Shu destroys or ‘thala’ in Arabic . In Hebrew the name seems to mean breaker. Shu was the Egyptian god of winds and air and the name Shu meant to rise up. If we translate the Hebrew word ‘thalah’ as a cognate of the Arabic word ‘tala’, then Shuwthelach’s name means Shu rises up.
Tachath is the Egyptian god Tatenen. He was the Egyptian chthonic god of the primordial mound. The word Tacheth or Tahath is a cognate of Arabic word or ‘taHat’ and it means nether, below, beneath.
Barid is the Egyptian goddess Bat whose name is derived from the Egyptian word ‘ba’ which means, among other things, ‘soul’. The name Barid means Bat replies/responds or ‘rd’ in Arabic. Or the name could mean, the soul (Ba) returns as ‘rd’ also means ‘to return’.
So, besides Resheph, there are at least 3 other sons of Ephraim who bear Egyptian theophoric names which leads to the conclusion that the name, Ephraim, has Egyptian origins. The name Ephraim, or more properly, Aprym, can be traced to Egypt. The original name could have been apr.w D36-Q3-G43-D21-A1-Z1 which means an asiatic people aka Apiru or Habiru. The ‘w’ indicates a plural which explains the transliteration into Hebrew as Aprym-the (ym) indicating a plural. These people were asiatics, who according to Wiki:
“As more texts were uncovered throughout the Near East, it became clear that the Habiru were mentioned in contexts ranging from unemployed agricultural workers and vagrants, to mounted mercenary bowmen. The context differed depending upon where the references were found.
Though found throughout most of the Fertile Crescent, the arc of civilization “extending from the Tigris-Euphrates river basins over to the Mediterranean littoral and down through the Nile Valley during the Second Millennium, the principal area of historical interest is in their engagement with Egypt.”
The name apr.w derives from the Egyptian word aprw D36-Q3-D21-G43-Aa20-A1-Z2 which means both workmen and sailors, which is very interesting as the name Manasseh, as explained below, points to this tribe’s origin in the seafaring peoples of the Aegean. So, Ephraim or Aprym in Hebrew may represent the Asiatic seafarers or, more likely, the Egyptian sailors who were settled in Egypt to guard the sea coast as well as the important trade route, the King’s Highway. The Canaanites were famous seafaring folks so the tribe of Manasseh may have originated in the Aegean but the tribe of Ephraim may have originated on the coast of the Levant or in Egypt as Egyptian sailors.
Another Hebrew name, Simeon, Joseph’s half brother, also appears to be an etymological combination of Hebrew and Egyptian. Simeon’s name means ‘(the god) On heard’. On is an Hebrew name for the sun god, Ra. According to Gen 41:45, Joseph married Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera a Priest of On. ‘On’ was the Hebrew name for Heliopolis, a Greek designation for the Egyptian city Awn. Heliopolis means the city of the sun and the Egyptians regarded Awn as a house of the sun god, Ra. So, a ‘priest of On’ would be a priest of the sun god, Ra. From this verse in Genesis, it is clear that the Hebrew authors of Genesis equated the City of On with the Egyptian sun god. The name ‘On’ or ‘Awn’ thus became, for the Hebrews, another name for Ra. It is interesting, that in Hebrew this name, ‘awn’, means folly and iniquity, which is how the Hebrews viewed this foreign god.
The Hebrew authors did not try to equate ‘On/Awn’ to the Hebrew word for ‘pillars’ or ‘amwd’ which is the meaning of ‘On’ in the ancient Egyptian language. Pillars were sacred to the Hebrews and were erected to represent their gods and their tribes. Instead, they focused on a like sounding Hebrew word that mocked the Egyptian sun god. Clearly, the Hebrews viewed the name ‘On’ as a name of the Egyptian sun god. Thus, for the Hebrews, the name Simeon (Shama’wn in Hebrew) was originally a composite of the Hebrew word ‘shama’, meaning ‘heard’ and the transliterated Egyptian word ‘iwn’ or ‘awn’ in Hebrew where ‘awn’ was a reference to the Egyptian sun god, Ra. Thus, the name Simeon/Shama’wn originally meant ‘(the god) On heard’. The name was later defined as simply ‘heard’, which makes no sense without the theophoric element attached. If the name originally meant Yhwh heard, the name would have been Shamayah; a name found in 41 Biblical verses. The only explanation for Simeon’s strange name is that the theophoric, ‘awn’, was a reference to the sun god, Ra just as Yah was a reference to Yhwh in the name Shamayah. So, Joseph’s brother and offspring have an Egyptian connection. However, Joseph’s son, Manasseh and Manasseh’s offspring, appear to have originated in another part of the ancient world.
Manasseh is the eldest son of Joseph according to the Biblical Book of Genesis. Like his Biblical brother, Ephraim, Manasseh does not have Hebrew origins. The name Manasseh means ‘cause to forget in Hebrew’. This name makes no sense in Hebrew and is the first clue that this Biblical character originated in a non-Semitic culture. Manasseh’s eldest son’s name is Ashriel according to 1Chronicles 7:14. The name means ‘right of god’ in Hebrew, however, like Manasseh, the name is not of Hebrew origin. Manasseh’s second son is Machir which means ‘sold’ in Hebrew; another clue that the name is not Hebrew. So, one must search as to which culture these names refer. A good place to begin is with the sea people who settled in Canaan before the advent of the Hebrews.
According to the article entitled “Minoan Frescoes at Tel Kabri”:
“Over 100 years of excavations on Crete have exposed elegant Minoan frescoes that once adorned the walls of the island’s Bronze Age palaces. This distinctively colorful Aegean art style flourished in the Middle Bronze Age (1750-1550 B.C.). The nearby inhabitants of Akrotiri, a city on the Cycladic island of Thera (modern Santorini), painted numerous artworks in the style of the Minoan frescoes before the island was decimated by a volcanic eruption in the late 17th or 16th century B.C.
Until recently, there was no archaeological evidence of Minoan frescoes beyond the islands of the Aegean. Art exhibiting Aegean characteristics has been uncovered at recent excavations in Egypt, Syria and Turkey—and at the Canaanite palace of Tel Kabri in Israel. In the July/August 2013 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Tel Kabri excavators Eric H. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau explore how Aegean art, architecture and painted plaster fragments reminiscent of Minoan frescoes ended up at Canaanite Tel Kabri.
Aegean art at Tel Kabri was first discovered in 1989, when Aharon Kempinksi and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier uncovered a checkerboard floor with depictions of Aegean flora as well as 2,000 painted plaster fragments exhibiting characteristics similar to Minoan frescoes. The current Tel Kabri excavation, under the direction of BAR authors Eric H. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau, has uncovered many more pieces of painted wall plaster. In addition to Aegean art, the team recently exposed an expensive building lined with Aegean-style orthostat blocks and dowel holes similar to those found in Aegean palaces.”
The Minoan frescoes found in northern Israel indicate that this area was settled by Aegean sea people who traded with the Canaanite inhabitants in the area. Preliminary excavations in 2005 indicated that the palace, where the Minoan frescoes were excavated, dates to the Middle Bronze (MB) IIB period or during the early second millennium BCE (between 1800-1600 BCE), which is well before the Hebrews entered into Canaan around 1200 BCE. The Aegean Minoan settlements were named after Minos, a Cretan king. According to the Wikipedia article entitled ‘Minoa’:
“Minoa is the name of several bronze-age settlements in the Aegean coasts, in Corfu and in Sicily. The original meaning of the word remains unknown, but it seems that there is a strong connection with the mythic king of Crete, Minos, during the bronze-age Minoan civilization which flourished in Crete and in the Aegean islands (2000-1470 BC). The inhabitants of Crete were named Minoans by Arthur Evans, after the legendary king. The root min- corresponds to a group of Aegean languages, and appears also in some toponyms like Minya, Minassos and in the name of the Minyans.”
It is clear from the above article that Manasseh is the Hebrew version of the Greek word Minoas (Minyan in English), the Greek name for the original inhabitants of the Aegean Islands. From the link of the Hebrew word Manasseh to the Greek word Minoas and the excavation of the Minoan frescoes at Tel Kabri in Israel, it is clear that Manasseh originated as a name in a language related to Greek. The name also indicates that this ‘Hebrew’ tribe had an origin as the Minoas or Aegean Islanders. With this information in hand, the names of Manasseh’s sons, Ashriel and Machir can be explained.
Manasseh’s (Minoas in Greek) first son was Ashriel which is the Hebrew form of the Minoan name, Asirai. This god was the head of the Minoan pantheon according to the article “The Quiet Decipherment of Linear A”. The name of his female counterpart in this pantheon is derived from another god, Asasara aka Ashassara aka Ashara (from the Sanskrit Asura meaning divinity). Ashara became the Hurrian goddess of oaths Ishara who became the Canaanite goddess Athirat in Ugarit and Asherah in Hebrew. Her name means ‘she who treads on the seas’. The Minoans were a seafaring people and that is where Asherah gets her title as a treader of the seas. Her name is a reference to the Minoan ships. So, the goddess Asherah was brought ashore by the Minoans aka Manasseh in Hebrew. Ashara is the origin of the name of the Hebrew tribe of Asher.
Ashriel’s brother’s name is Machir according to 1 Chronicles 7:14. Machir’s name means ‘sold’ in Hebrew which makes no sense. However, the name machir in Hebrew is a cognate of the Arabic word ‘machirah’ or ship from the root ‘machir’ which means ‘to plow the seas’. Both the Hebrew and the Arabic word ‘machir’ are derived from the name of the Northern Aegean Island of Makronisi aka Makri. In Arabic, the name came to mean ‘to plow the seas’. In the Bible, Machir became the son of Manasseh or Minoas. Minoas or Minoans were named after Minos, the Cretan ‘king’ whose name was the origin of the Minoans. Besides Manasseh, Asher and Machir, the northern tribes of Zebulun, Issachar, Naphtali, and Dan were also named after Sea Peoples.
Zebulun, according to Genesis 49:13 is connected to the seafaring Canaanites of Sidon. This verse says: ” Zebulun will dwell by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border shall extend toward Sidon.” Zebulun means the House (‘zbl’ In Hebrew) of Ionia (‘ywn’ in Hebrew). ‘Ywn’ or Ionia (Javin in English translations) is a word the Biblical authors used to refer to the Greek speaking peoples, which included the Aegean Islanders. The Ionians occupied the Aegean Island of Samos which was one of 12 members of the Ionian league. The name Ionia was found on the Knosis tablets which date to between the 14th & 12th Centuries BCE. According to the Wikipedia article entitled ‘Samos’:
“In classical antiquity the island was a center of Ionian culture and luxury, renowned for its Samian wines and its red pottery (called Samian Ware by the Romans). Its most famous building was the Ionian order archaic Temple of goddess Hera…
Concerning the earliest history of Samos, literary tradition is singularly defective. At the time of the great migrations it received an Ionian population which traced its origin to Epidaurus in Argolis: Samos became one of the twelve members of the Ionian League. By the 7th century BC it had become one of the leading commercial centers of Greece. This early prosperity of the Samians seems largely due to the island’s position near trade-routes, which facilitated the importation of textiles from inner Asia Minor, but the Samians also developed an extensive oversea commerce. They helped to open up trade with the population that lived around the Black sea as well as with Egypt, Cyrene (Libya), Corinth, and Chalcis. This caused them to become bitter rivals with Miletus. Samos was able to become so prominent despite the growing power of the Persian empire because of the alliance they had with the Egyptians and their powerful fleet. The Samians are also credited with having been the first Greeks to reach the Straits of Gibraltar.
The feud between Miletus and Samos broke out into open strife during the Lelantine War (7th century BC), with which we may connect a Samian innovation in Greek naval warfare, the use of the trireme. The result of this conflict was to confirm the supremacy of the Milesians in eastern waters for the time being; but in the 6th century the insular position of Samos preserved it from those aggressions at the hands of Asiatic kings to which Miletus was henceforth exposed. About 535 BC, when the existing oligarchy was overturned by the tyrant Polycrates, Samos reached the height of its prosperity. Its navy not only protected it from invasion, but ruled supreme in Aegean waters. The city was beautified with public works, and its school, of sculptors, metal-workers and engineers achieved high repute.”
Also of note is the Hebrew word for wine or ‘yyn’ which is derived from the Hebrew word for Ionian or ‘ywn’.
The name Issachar means ‘he will bring reward’ in Hebrew. However, the name appears to be a corruption of the Hebrew word ‘aysh’, which means ‘man’, and the Greek name Icaria. The name would mean ‘man from Icaria’; a northern Aegean Island named after Icarus, the son of Daedalus, who fell into the Aegean Sea after his wings melted. The Aegean Island is named after that location in the Aegean Sea where he was supposed to have drowned. In Arabic, the word ‘aysh’, meaning ‘to live’, is comparable to the Hebrew word for man and person or ‘aysh’. The word ‘sqr’ means hawk in Arabic. So, the name Issachar can also be translated as ‘Hawk Man’; a reference to Icarus whose wax and feather wings melted.
The name Naphtali links this tribe to the Aegean Island of Tilos. Naphtali means ‘wrestler’ in Hebrew, but the name can be broken into 2 words ‘nphH’, which means in Hebrew ‘region’/’coast’ and the word ‘Tilos’. The name would mean ‘from the coast or region of Tilos’. Tilos has been inhabited from 8000 BCE. During the Bronze Age, Tilos was successively dominated by Minoans, Mycenaeans and Dorians.
The tribe of Dan means ‘judgment’ in Hebrew. However, this tribe derives its name from the Denyen, a sea people who have been identified with the Adana of Cillicia, who later settled in Cyprus aka Caphtor in Hebrew texts. The Egyptians knew them as the Dananiyim. These people were tied to the Aegean Islands and were joined to the Hebrews along with the tribes Manasseh, Asher, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar and Nephthali according to the Book of Judges 4 & 5, which describes the Hebrew battle led by the prophetess Deborah against the king of Hazor.
According to Judges 4:10, only the tribes of Naphtali (aka the Tilonians) and Zebulun (aka the Ionians from Samos) joined Deborah in this battle against the King of Hazor. According to Judges 5, the tribe of Issachar (aka Icarians) also joined the fight but Dan (aka Denyen) opted out of the battle and remained in their ships as did Asher who ‘remained in his coves’. Given the location of the battle, it appears that Jabin, an Ionian ruler in Canaan, and not a Canaanite king as is claimed in Judges, had built a fortress in the mountains, which became the famous city of Hazor. He may have been trying to secure the trade routes for himself at the expense of his fellow Aegean Islanders by blockading their ships and trade routes in this area. The Tilonians, Ionians from Samos, and the Icarians banded together to rid themselves of the upstart and attacked from the sea while the oppressed Bedouin joined in the fight hoping for spoils. In the Song of Deborah, the Bedouin took credit for organizing and winning the battle. It is highly doubtful that events took place as it was presented in Judges. What happened was that the Aegean Islanders attacked a fellow Aegean upstart who built a fortress in northern Galilee in order to control the land and sea trade routes. He lost to his fellow Aegean Islanders who were aided by Bedouin looking for loot and glory. However, that did not impede the Hebrew authors of the Book of Judges from grabbing the glory for themselves. This victory was not the only achievement of a foreign people that the Hebrews claimed for themselves.
According to the Wikipedia article entitled ‘Hazor’, Israel Finkelstein, a leading Israeli archaeologist and author who excavated the Canaanite city of Hazor, claims that the Israelites emerged as a subculture within Canaanite society and rejects the biblical account of the Israelite conquest of Canaan. In this view, the Book of Joshua conflates several independent battles between disparate groups over the centuries, and artificially attributes them to a single leader, Joshua. Nevertheless excavations of Hazor, in one archaeological stratum dating from around 1200 BC, indicates signs of catastrophic fire, and cuneiform tablets found at the site refer to monarchs named Ibni Addi, where Ibni may be the origin of the Biblical name Yavin (Jabin). (According to Judges 4:10, Deborah defeated Jabin in a battle in which the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun participated.). The city also shows signs of having been a magnificent Canaanite city prior to its destruction, with great temples and opulent palaces split into an upper acropolis, and lower city; the town evidently had been a major Canaanite city. He theorized that the destruction of Hazor was the result of civil strife, attacks by the Sea Peoples, and/or a result of the general collapse of civilization across the whole eastern Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age.
The etymological origin of Yabin may be the word ‘yavin’. Yavin was originally pronounced as ya-wn and it means Ionia; a reference to the Greek speaking peoples. The term is used in Joel 3:6 where Yewny means Ionians according to Strong’s 3120. Israel Finkelstein’s supposition that the destruction of Hazor was a result of civil strife and attacks by the Sea Peoples is reflected in the name Yabin or Yavin.
The Aegean Islanders were a part of the Cycladic civilization. This Cycladic culture was an Early Bronze Age culture of the Cyclaces, Greece and the Aegean Islanders, spanning the period from approximately 3200-2000 BCE. The Minoan culture, which grew out of the Cycladic culture, flourished between 2000 and 1450 BCE. The Minoan frescoes excavated at the palace located at Tel Kabri date to MB IIB or between 2000-1800 BCE, so the Minoans settled in Canaan prior to the arrival of the Danoi or Denyen and other Sea Peoples as the Philistines and the Tjeker. The Aegean Islanders not only gave their names to the Hebrew tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Machir, Zebulun, Issachar and Naphthali, they were also important trading partners of the Hebrews and their northern neighbors, Tyre and Sidon who were also allies and trading partners. The Aegean trading partners, or Ionians, are listed in the lament for Tyre in Ezekiel 27:13. The lament gives a good idea of the trade being exchanged around 600 BCE, which would be very reflective of the trade which benefited Israel. Israel was directly linked to Tyre thru a marriage alliance between Ahab and the Tyrean/Sidonian princess, Jezebel. Alliance with one trading partner allowed access to the ally’s other trading partners. They often banded together to defend the trade routes; that is until a foreign power or an ally turned traitor lured away or attacked a trading partner in order to grab more territory for itself.
According to Ezekiel 27:
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Tyre. 3 Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘You say, Tyre, “I am perfect in beauty.4 Your domain was on the high seas; your builders brought your beauty to perfection.5 They made all your timbers of juniper from Senir; they took a cedar from Lebanon to make a mast for you.6 Of oaks from Bashanthey made your oars of cypress wood from the coasts of Cyprus they made your deck, adorned with ivory.7 Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was your sail and served as your banner;your awnings were of blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah.8 Men of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen;your skilled men, Tyre, were aboard as your sailors.9 Veteran craftsmen of Byblos were on board as shipwrights to caulk your seams. All the ships of the sea and their sailors came alongside to trade for your wares.10“‘Men of Persia, Lydia and Put served as soldiers in your army.They hung their shields and helmets on your walls,bringing you splendor. 11 Men of Arvad and Helek guarded your walls on every side; men of Gammad were in your towers.They hung their shields around your walls;they brought your beauty to perfection.12 “‘Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods; they exchanged silver, iron, tin and lead for your merchandise.13 “Ionia, Tubal and Meshek did business with you; they traded human beings and articles of bronze for your wares.14 “‘Men of Beth Togarmah exchanged chariot horses, cavalry horses and mules for your merchandise.15 “‘The men of Rhodes traded with you, and many coastlands were your customers; they paid you with ivory tusks and ebony.16 “‘Aram did business with you because of your many products; they exchanged turquoise, purple fabric, embroidered work, fine linen, coral and rubies for your merchandise.17 “‘Judah and Israel traded with you; they exchanged wheat from Minnith and confections, honey, olive oil and balm for your wares.18 “‘Damascus did business with you because of your many products and great wealth of goods. They offered wine from Helbon, wool from Zahar 19 and casks of wine from Izal in exchange for your wares: wrought iron, cassia and calamus.20 “‘Dedan traded in saddle blankets with you.21 “‘Arabia and all the princes of Kedar were your customers; they did business with you in lambs, rams and goats.22 “‘The merchants of Sheba and Raamah traded with you; for your merchandise they exchanged the finest of all kinds of spices and precious stones, and gold.23 “‘Harran, Kanneh and Eden and merchants of Sheba, Ashur and Kilmad traded with you. 24 In your marketplace they traded with you beautiful garments, blue fabric, embroidered work and multicolored rugs with cords twisted and tightly knotted.25 “‘The ships of Tarshish serve as carriers for your wares.You are filled with heavy cargoas you sail the sea.26 Your oarsmen take you out to the high seas.
In addition, the Midianite confederation with whom Moses formed a marriage alliance (Exodus 2:21), is thought by scholars to have also originated in the Aegean. According to Wikipedia, “Midianite pottery also called Qurayyah Painted Ware (QPW), is found at numerous sites stretching from the southern Levant to NW Saudi Arabia, the Hejaz; Qurayyah in NW Saudi Arabia is thought to be its original location of manufacture. The pottery is bichrome / polychrome style and it dates as early as the 13th century B.C.; its many geometric, human, and animal motifs are painted in browns and dark reds on a pinkish-tan slip. “Midianite” pottery is found in its largest quantities at metallurgical sites in the southern Levant, especially Timna. Because of the Mycenaean motifs on Midianite pottery, some scholars including George Mendenhall, Peter Parr, and Beno Rothenberg have suggested that the Midianites were originally Sea Peoples who migrated from the Aegean region and imposed themselves on a pre-existing Semitic stratum.”
So, Israel and Judea sustained their states thru trade; not thru herding goats and sheep. Among their earliest trading partners and allies were the Aegean Islanders whom they knew as Ionians. It was these Aegean Sea people who gave their names to what became the northern tribes of Israel. The tribes of Simeon and Ephraim, on the other hand, drew their existence from their tribal relationship with the Egyptian occupiers of Canaan. Egyptian theophoric names cluster in the descendants of Simeon and Ephraim, which indicate a strong Egyptian influence in the areas these tribes inhabited . So, Jacob’s offspring, Simeon and Joseph as well as Joseph’s sons, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, were strongly influenced by Canaan’s, Israel’s and Judea’s ancient Egyptian and Aegean trading partners from which they derived their names.