Why is Ephraim not listed in the 144,000

Steven, 

We got into a discussion about the 144,000 of Rev. 7 on our forum.  Why is Ephraim not listed? Surely Joseph was not just randomly inserted.  Do you have any scriptural references to this?
 
While we’re at it what happened to Dan.  lol
 
Thanks
 
Chris

MYREPLY

 
Dear Chris,
 
This question about the tribes in Revelation is one that many ponder. I will offer you my understanding of how this listing of the tribes of Israel found its way into Revelation 7:4-8. There is an obvious problem making the tribes of Israel fit into a calculation of 144,000 with 12,000 from each tribe because there are actually 13 tribes of Israel, not 12 tribes. Jacob/Israel had 12 sons, but Joseph’s tribe was divided into the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48). After that event, there were 13 tribes of Israel. To make the “math” fit the context of Revelation 7, one tribe had to be left out. I believe some ancient scribe deleted the tribe of Dan from the listing, but inadvertently listed Manasseh twice because the term “Joseph” in verse 8 automatically includes both Manasseh and Ephraim.
 
There is a major problem with deleting one of the tribes of Israel in this listing because Revelation 7:4 specifically states that the listing of tribes was supposed to include “all the tribes of the children of Israel.” This language does not allow for the omission of any of the tribes from the list. In order to make the math work out right (12 tribes x 12,000 from each tribe to equal 144,000), the word “Manasseh” in verse 6 should have been listed as “Dan.” Ephraim and Manasseh would both still be in the listing as they jointly compose the tribe of “Joseph” mentioned in verse 8. Because Revelation 7:4 clearly states “all” the tribes were to be included in the list, a very ancient scribal error finding its way into modern translations appears to be the best explanation for this conundrum. I don’t claim any infallibility in my answer, but it the best one I can see which reconciles the internal confusion in this text. 
 
Steve

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