From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Naphtali was the younger of two sons whom Rachel’s maid Bilhah bore to Jacob ( Genesis 30:7-8). The tribe descended from him settled in the north of Canaan, and together with the neighbouring tribe of Zebulun occupied much of the region later known as Galilee. This was the region to the north and west of the Sea of Chinnereth (Lake Galilee) where Jesus grew up and where he spent most of the time recorded of him in the New Testament. The country was mainly hilly, with good pastures and fertile soil ( Genesis 49:21;  Deuteronomy 33:23;  Joshua 19:32-39;  Joshua 20:7;  Isaiah 9:1;  Matthew 4:12-16). (For other features of the region see Bethsaida; Capernaum; Chinnereth; Galilee; Hazor )

In Old Testament times the men of Naphtali proved to be good fighters when called upon to help the other tribes in battle ( Judges 4:6;  Judges 4:10;  Judges 5:18;  Judges 6:35;  Judges 7:23;  1 Chronicles 12:34). The tribe itself, however, was open to attack from the north ( 1 Kings 15:20). It was among the first tribes to go into captivity when Assyria invaded and finally destroyed Israel ( 2 Kings 15:29). Yet out of this land of darkness and defeat came light and salvation in the person of Jesus Christ ( Isaiah 9:1;  Matthew 4:12-16).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

NAPHTALI. The second son of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid, and the sixth son of Jacob (  Genesis 30:7 f. [J [Note: Jahwist.] ]). The tradition connects the story in a vague way with the word ‘twist, wrestle’: Naphtûtç ’elôhîm niphtalti Wrestlings of God (or mighty wrestlings) ‘I have wrestled with my sister and I have prevailed,’ Rachel exclaimed when Naphtali was born, ‘and she called his name Naphtali.’

The information which we have of Naphtali is very meagre. P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ascribes to him four sons when Jacob and his family entered Egypt ( Genesis 46:24 ). These four have developed into ‘families’ at the time of the Exodus, and their numher is given as 53,400 in the Sinai census (  Numbers 1:42 ). At Moab, however, they had decreased to 45,000 (26:48). None of these clan-names given here, except Guni, appears again outside of the genealogy repeated in   1 Chronicles 7:13 . In the march through the desert Naphtali formed with Dan and Asher the ‘Camp of Dan,’ which constituted a total of 157,000 men of war.

While the genealogical lists cannot he relied on, there is no apparent reason for linking together Dan and Naphtali. But that they are both traced to Bilhah indicates that they were tribes of minor importance, inferior in strength, and of less consequence in the national development at the time when these relationships were created, than the tribes which sprang from Rachel.

Naphtali was the sixth in order to receive its lot ( Joshua 19:32-39 ). It is somewhat more definitely defined than the others, though few of the places mentioned can be identified. No fewer than nineteen cities are said to lie within its territory, the most of which are not found again in the OT, doubtless because the history of Israel was wrought out mainly in the regions to the south. The territory reached on the north almost to the Lebanon. Southward it extended along the Jordan until it reached the point below the Sea of Galilee where the Wady el-Bireh joins the Jordan. The greater part lay to the north-west of the Sea, and in this direction (N. and W.) its boundaries appear to have been shifting. ‘Ancient and modern writers’ (writes Driver, Deut . 413) ‘vie with one another in praising the soil and climate of the territory owned by Naphtali: it was abundantly irrigated; and its productions rich and varied. Lower Galilee was, however, yet more fertile and beautiful than Upper Galilee. The vegetation in the neighbourhood of the lake is semi-tropical.’ Modern writers join with Josephus in praising it, and Neubauer ( Géog. du Talm . p. 180) quotes a saying from the Talmud: ‘It is easier to raise a legion of olives in Galilee than to bring up a child in Palestine.’ No wonder that Naphtali was ‘like a hind let loose’ (  Genesis 49:21 , if this be the correct translation; see the Comm.). Besides these advantages, it was fortunate in location in times of peace. Roads ran in every direction, connecting it with the outer world.

The heroism and warlike daring of the tribe is sung in  Judges 5:1-31 . In that decisive struggle with the Canaanitcs the tribe wrote its name high on the roll of Israelitish fame. But this was in the days of its pristine vigour. At a later period it performed nothing worthy of record. The Blessings of Jacob (  Genesis 49:21 ) and of Moses (  Deuteronomy 33:23 , ‘Satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of Jahweh’) dwell only upon its productivity. The captain to whom the honour of leading the Israelites to victory over the hosts of Sisera is ascribed in the prose narrative,   Judges 4:1-24 , was Barak of Kedesn-naphtali. This is probable in view of the readiness with which Naphtali and Zehulun its neighbour responded to his call, though   Judges 5:15 points rather to a connexion with Issachar. According to   1 Kings 7:14 , Hiram, the worker in metals, etc., whom Solomon brought from Tyre to work on the house of Jahweh, was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali [  2 Chronicles 2:14 , it is true, says she was of Dan. The shifting of boundaries may be the cause of the divergence]. Few names of prominence, however, from members of this tribe appear in connexion with the national life.

According to the Chronicler ( 1 Chronicles 12:34 ) 37,000 warriors with 1000 captains went to the support of David at Hebron. Under the Syrian king Bir-idri (Benhadad), ‘all the land of Naphtali,’ together with certain cities of Israel, were smitten with the sword (  1 Kings 15:20 ). When the Syrian kingdom fell before the Assyrian armies, northern Israel was exposed, as never before, to the relentless legions of the East; and ‘in the days of Pekah, king of Israel, came Tiglath-pileser [iii. b.c. 734], king of Assyria, and took l jon, and Abel-beth-maacah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali, and he carried them captive to Assyria’ (  2 Kings 15:29 ). See also Tribes.

James A. Craig.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

("my wrestling".) Jacob's fifth son, second by Bilhah, Rachel's maid.  Genesis 30:8, Rachel said, "with wrestlings of God (I.E. Earnest Prayer, As Her Husband Does In  Genesis 32:24-28 ; He Had Reproved Her Impatience, Telling Her God, Not He, Is The Giver Of Children:  Genesis 30:1-2 ; So She Wrestled With God) have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed," i.e. succeeded in getting from God a child as my sister. Thus allied to Dan ( Genesis 35:25). He had four sons at the descent to Egypt ( Genesis 46:24). At the census of Sinai Naphtali's tribe numbered 53,400 able for war ( Numbers 1:43). At the borders of Canaan the tribe of Naphtali had fallen to 45,400 ( Numbers 26:48-50). On march Naphtali was north of the tabernacle, next Dan his kinsman, and Asher ( Numbers 2:25-31), together forming "the camp of Dan," hindmost or rearward of all the camps ( Numbers 10:25). Naphtali had its portion between the coastland strip of Asher and the upper Jordan. Dan shortly after sent a number from his less desirable position next the Philistines to seek a settlement near his kinsman Napthtali in the far north.

Zebulun was on S. of Naphtali; trans-jordanic Manasseh on the E. The ravine of the Leontes (Litany) and the valley between Lebanon and Antilebanon was on the N. Thus, Naphtali had the well watered district about Banias and the springs of the Jordan. Jacob in his dying prophecy says, "Naphtali is a hind let loose, he giveth goodly words." The targums of Pseudo-Jonathan and Jerusalem say Naphtali first told Jacob Joseph was alive. "Naphtali (Say The Targums) is a swift messenger, like a hind that runneth on the mountains, bringing good tidings." Joshua ( Joshua 20:7) calls it "Mount Naphtali" from the mountainous parts of its possessions. Shelucha, "let loose," is cognate to sheluchim, "the apostles," who on Galilee mountains "brought good tidings" of Jesus ( Isaiah 52:7).  Habakkuk 3:19, "the Lord will make my feet like hinds' feet," has in view Jacob's prophecy as to Naphtali. Temporally Naphtali disports gracefully and joyously in its fertile allotment, as a hind at large exulting amidst grass; it shall be famous too for eloquence. The "bind" symbolizes a swift warrior ( 2 Samuel 2:18;  1 Chronicles 12:8).

Barak with 10,000 men of Naphtali, at Deborah's call, fought and delivered Israel from Jabin of Canaan. His war-like energy and his and Deborah's joint song are specimens of the prowess and the eloquence of Naphtali (Judges 4-5); Naphtali and Zebulun "jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field" ( Judges 5:18). So they helped Gideon against Midian ( Judges 6:35;  Judges 7:23). Moses' blessing on Naphtali is ( Deuteronomy 33:23), "Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of Jehovah, possess thou the "sect" ( Yam ) and the sunny district" (Not As Kjv "The W. And The S.," For Its Lot Was N. But Its Climate In Parts Was Like That Of The S.) , namely, the whole W. coast of the sea of Galilee, "an earthly paradise" (Josephus, B.J. 3:3, section 2), and lake Merom (Huleh). The district is still called Belad Besharah, "land of good tidings." The climate of the lower levels is hot and suited for tropical plants, so that fruits ripen earlier than elsewhere ( Joshua 19:32, etc.).

"The soil is rich, full of trees of all sorts, so fertile as to invite the most slothful to cultivate it" (Josephus); but now the population of this once thickly peopled, flourishing region, is as scanty as its natural vegetation is luxuriant. Its forests and ever varying scenery are among the finest in Palestine (Van de Velde, 1:170, 293; 2:407). Naphtali failed to drive out the Canaanites ( Judges 1:33). Pagan neighbours soon made it and northern Israel "Galilee of the Gentiles." Tiglath Pileser swept away its people to Assyria; Benhadad of Syria had previously smitten all Naphtali ( 1 Kings 15:20;  2 Kings 15:29). But where the darkness was greatest and the captivity first came, there gospel light first shone, as foretold of Zebulun and Naphtali ( Isaiah 9:1-2;  Matthew 4:16). Naphtali shall have its 12,000 elect ones sealed ( Revelation 7:6), and its allotment in restored Israel ( Ezekiel 48:3-4;  Ezekiel 48:34).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [4]

Son of Jacob by Bilhah. ( Genesis 30:8) The name signifies struggling. The margin of our Bible saith, that Rachel called him thus, "my wrestlings." The patriarch when dying gave a particular blessing to Naphtali, and said "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words." ( Genesis 49:21) This prophetical blessing of Jacob hath not been regarded in terms equal to its importance, according to my apprehension; and yet the Holy Ghost seems to have called up the attention of the church to it, upon various occasions, in his holy word. I would ask, are not many of the dying patriarch's benedictions to his children considered more with reference to Christ, than to the twelve patriarchs? Do we not consider the blessing of Judah, as one whom his brethren shall praise, and as one from whom the sceptre shall not depart, as having respect principally, if not altogether, to the person of Christ? And are not the several blessings prophesied of Joseph, on the dying bed of his father, spoken directly with an eye to Joseph's Lord? And if so, why may we not with equal safety, in the blessing of Naphtali discover Christ also? Is Naphtali an hind let loose? And can we overlook that hind of the morning, even Jesus, whom the hunters pursued, and the dogs of Bashan compassed around? (See  Psalms 22:1-31 in the title of it, and throughout the Psalm.) And when we read what the church saith of her Lord, as a roe or a hind upon the mountains of spices, and thus frequently through the book of the Songs, surely it can be no difficult matter to behold Jesus in the type, and regard him who giveth goodly words.

I am the more inclined to those discoveries of Jesus, in the view of Naphtali, because in my apprehension of the subject, Moses, the man of God, in his dying benediction concerning Naphtali, confirmed what Jacob in his dying moments had before said concerning him. (See  Deuteronomy 33:23) "O Naphtali!" (said Moses) "satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess thou the west and the south." And to whom are we to look for any, or for all the tribes of Israel in the possession of the divine favour, and so satisfied with it? Of whom, among the sons of Jacob, can it be said with truth, "that they are full of the blessing of the Lord," unless we first behold him in whom it hath "pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell," and from him, and in him, and by him, all the seed of Israel "are justified and shall glory?" Surely it is blessed first to eye Christ as possessing and being the cause of the true Naphtali's portion, and then, by virtue of an union with him, and interest in him, to behold those blessings flowing in upon his inheritance. It is Jesus alone who hath satisfied for sin, and with whom alone Jehovah is satisfied; and therefore Jesus, as the Head of his body the church, is satisfied with favour, and full of the blessings of the Lord. Both the west and the south are his for a possession; yea, his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of earth, men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed. ( Psalms 72:1-20) throughout.

See Hind.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

Fifth son of Jacob, and second of Bilhah. The name also often includes his descendants, and the territory which they possessed. Naphtali and his four sons entered Egypt with Jacob, and nothing further is recorded of him personally. At the two numberings of the tribes Naphtali amounted to 53,400 and 45,400. When Jacob prophetically announced to the tribes that which should befall them in the last days, he said, "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words,"  Genesis 49:21; it is the remnant of Israel as the vessel of testimony. Moses said, "O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord: possess thou the west and the south."  Deuteronomy 33:23 . It is the full blessing of the remnant as Jehovah's people.

Their possession, which was mountainous and fertile, was in the north with the upper Jordan on the east and Asher in the west. Ijon, which was farther north than Dan, was in their land.  Joshua 19:32-39 . When Baasha, king of Israel, attacked Judah, Asa sent gold and silver to Ben-hadad, king of Syria, for help. He responded at once, and his army smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali.  2 Chronicles 16:4 . This tribe was the first of those on the west of the Jordan to be carried away captive by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria.  2 Kings 15:29 .

In  Isaiah 9:1,2 it is prophesied that Naphtali with Zebulun should see a great light: this was fulfilled when the Lord traversed that district, taught in the synagogues, and healed diseases there.   Matthew 4:13,15 , (where the name is NEPHTHALIM and in  Revelation 7:6 NEPTHALIM). The prophecy seems to say that Zebulun and Nephthalim were beyond the Jordan; but some judge that three districts are alluded to; Zebulun and Nephthalim; the way of the sea beyond the Jordan; and Galilee of the Gentiles. But others judge that only the district on the west of the Jordan is alluded to. The Hebrew word in  Isaiah 9:1 , translated 'beyond' is eber, and is sometimes translated 'on this side,' as in  Joshua 1:14,15 . When the Lord Jesus was on earth, the great light was shed on both sides of the Jordan, though the west was more especially the scene of His ministry. Matthew's Gospel does not speak of His ministry at Jerusalem until He went there to suffer.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

the sixth son of Jacob by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid. The word Naphtali signifies wrestling, or struggling. When Rachel gave him this name, she said, "With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed,"   Genesis 30:8 . Naphtali had but four sons, and yet at the coming out of Egypt his tribe made up fifty-three thousand four hundred men, able to bear arms. Moses, in the blessing he gave to the same tribe, says, "O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess thou the west and the south,"  Deuteronomy 33:23 . The Vulgate reads it, "the sea and the south," and the Hebrew will admit of either interpretation, that is, the sea of Gennesareth, which was to the south by the inheritance of this tribe. His soil was very fruitful in corn and oil. His limits were extended into upper and lower Galilee, having Jordan to the east, the tribes of Asher and Zebulun to the west, Libanus to the north, and the tribe of Issachar to the south. Under Barak, their general, they and the Zebulunites fought with distinguished bravery against the army of Jabin the younger; and at the desire of Gideon they pursued the Midianites,  Judges 4:10;  Judges 5:18;  Judges 7:23 . A thousand of their captains, with thirty-seven thousand of their troops, assisted at David's coronation, and brought great quantities of provision with them,  1 Chronicles 12:34;  1 Chronicles 12:40 . We find no person of distinguished note among them, save Barak, and Hiram the artificer. Instigated by Asa, Benhadad the elder, king of Syria, terribly ravaged the land of Naphtali; and what it suffered in after invasions by the Syrians we are partly told,  1 Kings 15:20 . The Naphtalites were, many, if not most of them, carried captive by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria,  2 Kings 15:29 . Josiah purged their country from idols. Our Saviour and his disciples, during his public ministry, resided much and preached frequently in the land of Naphtali,  Isaiah 9:1;  Matthew 4:13;  Matthew 4:15 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Naphtali ( Năph'Ta-L Î ), My Wrestling. The sixth son of Jacob, by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid.  Genesis 30:7-8. He had four sons.  Genesis 46:24;  Exodus 1:4;  1 Chronicles 7:13. Jacob said, "Naphtali is a hind let loose, he giveth goodly words," graceful and eloquent.  Genesis 49:21.

Territory of Naphtali, peopled by his descendants, called Nephthalim,  Matthew 4:15, A.V., was called "the west and the south," A.V., literally "the sea and the circuit."  Deuteronomy 33:23;  Joshua 19:32-39. It lay in a rich and fertile portion of Northern Palestine, partly along the Lebanon range, called "the mount of Naphtali"  Joshua 19:32-39;  Joshua 20:7, R. V., "Hill country of Naphtali." They attended in force at the coronation of David,  1 Chronicles 12:34, and are mentioned with honor in the wars of the Judges,  Judges 1:33;  Judges 5:18;  Judges 6:35;  Judges 7:23, as much reduced by the Syrians,  1 Kings 15:20, and as among the first captives to Assyria,  2 Kings 15:29;  Isaiah 9:1. Barak was their most notable leader.  Judges 4:6-16. Our Saviour spent much time in the southern part of this region;  Matthew 4:13-15;  Mark 2:1-12, partially fulfilling  Isaiah 9:1-2.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

The sixth son of Jacob, by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid,  Genesis 30:8 . We know but few particulars of the lie of Naphtali. His sons were four,  Genesis 46:24 . The patriarch Jacob, when he gave his blessing, said, as it is in the English Bible, "Naphtali is a hind let loose; he giveth goodly words,"  Genesis 49:21 . For an illustration of this passage, see Hind .

The tribe of Naphtali, called Nephtalim in  Matthew 4:15 , were located in a rich and fertile portion of northern Palestine; having Asher on the west, the upper Jordan and part of the sea of Tiberias on the east; and running north into the Lebanon range, some lower offshoots of which prolonged to the south formed the "mountains of Naphtali,"  Joshua 19:32-39   20:7 . They attended in force at the coronation of David,  1 Chronicles 12:34; and are mentioned with honor in the wars of the Judges,  Judges 1:33   5:18   6:35   7:23; as much reduced by the Syrians,  1 Kings 15:20; and as among the first captives to Assyria,  2 Kings 15:29   Isaiah 9:1 . Our Savior spent much time in the southern part of this region,  Matthew 4:13-15 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [9]

Naph'tali. (Wrestling). The fifth son of Jacob, the second child name to him by Bilhah, Rachel's slave. His birth and the bestowal of his name are recorded in  Genesis 30:8. When the census was taken at Mount Sinai, the tribe of Naphtali numbered no less than 53,400 fighting men,  Numbers 1:43;  Numbers 2:50, but when the borders of the Promised Land were reached, its numbers were reduced to 45,400.  Numbers 26:48-50.

During the march through the wilderness, Naphtali occupied a position on the north of the sacred tent with Dan and Asher.  Numbers 2:25-31. In the apportionment of the land, the lot of Naphtali was enclosed on three sides by those of other tribes. On the west lay Asher, on the south lay Zebulun, and on the east lay the TransJordanic Manasseh.

(In the division of the kingdom, Naphtali belonged to the kingdom of Israel, and later, was a part of Galilee, bordering on the northwestern part of the Sea of Galilee, and including Capernaum and Bethsaida. - Editor).

Holman Bible Dictionary [10]

wrestler  Genesis 30:6-8 Genesis 49:21 Joshua 19:32-39

Naphtali is praised in the Song of Deborah for placing itself in jeopardy on behalf of Israel ( Judges 5:18 ). The tribe joined with Asher and Manasseh to help drive the Midianites out of the land ( Judges 7:23 ). During Solomon's reign the territory was designated a separate economic district (1Kings 4:7, 1 Kings 4:15 ) and produced Hiram, the king's chief brass worker ( 1 Kings 7:13-14 ). The Syrians invaded Naphtali during Baasha's reign and inflicted heavy losses ( 1 Kings 15:20 ). The territory finally succumbed to Tiglath-pileser III in 734 B.C. ( 2 Kings 15:29 ). See Tribes.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Genesis 30:8 Genesis 46:24

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [12]

See Tribes.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

naf´ta - lı̄ ( נפתּלי , naphtālı̄  ; Νεφθαλείμ , Nephthaleı́m ):

I. The Patriarch

1. Name

2. Circumstances of His Birth

3. Historical and Traditional Details

II. Tribe Of Naphtali

1. Its Relative Position

2. Its Location in Palestine

3. Physical Features

4. Distinction of the Tribe

5. Sites and Inhabitants

6. Labors of Jesus in This District

I. The Patriarch.

1. Name:

The 5th son of Jacob, and the 2nd born to him by Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah. He was full brother of Dan ( Genesis 30:7 ff).

At his birth Rachel is said to have exclaimed, naphtūlē ‛ĕl̄ohı̄m niphtaltı̄ , "wrestlings of God" - i.e. "mighty wrestlings" - "have I wrestled."

2. Circumstances of His Birth:

Her sister's fruitfulness was a sore trial to the barren Rachel. By her artifice she had obtained children, the offspring of her maid ranking as her own; and thus her reproach of childlessness was removed. The name Naphtali given to this son was a monument of her victory. She had won the favor and blessing of God as made manifest in the way yearned for by the oriental heart, the birth of sons.

3. Historical and Traditional Details:

Personal details regarding the patriarch North are entirely wanting in Scripture; and the traditions have not much to say about him. According to Targum Pseudo-Jonathan , he was a swift runner. It also tells us that he was one of the 5 brethren whom Joseph chose to represent the family of Jacob in the presence of Pharaoh. He is said to have been 132 years old at his death ( Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs , viii, 1,1). When Jacob and his family moved to Egypt, Naphtali had 4 sons (  Genesis 46:24 ). In Egypt, he died and was buried.

II. Tribe of Naphtali.

1. Its Relative Position:

When the first census was taken in the wilderness, the tribe numbered 53,400 fighting men ( Numbers 1:43;  Numbers 2:30 ). At the second census, the numbers had shrunk to 45,400 ( Numbers 26:48 ff); but see Numbers . The position of Naphtali in the desert was on the North of the tabernacle with the standard of the camp of Dan, along with the tribe of Asher ( Numbers 2:25 ff). The standard, according to Jewish tradition, was a serpent, or basilisk, with the legend, "Return of Yahweh to the many thousands of Israel" ( Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on   Numbers 2:25 ). When the host was on the march, this camp came in the rear ( Numbers 2:31 ). The prince of the tribe at Sinai was Ahira ben Enan ( Numbers 2:29 ). Among the spies the tribe was represented by Nahbi ben Vophsi ( Numbers 13:14 ). Prince Pedahel ben Ammihud was chosen from Naphtali to assist in the division of the land ( Numbers 34:28 ). Toward the end of David's reign the ruler of the tribe was Jeremoth ben Azriel ( 1 Chronicles 27:19 ). Hiram the Tyrian artificer is described as "the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali" ( 1 Kings 7:14 ). But in  2 Chronicles 2:14 he is called "the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan."   Judges 5:15 does not definitely associate Barak with the tribe of Issachar; his residence was at Kedesh (  Judges 4:6 ); it is therefore possible that he belonged to the tribe of Naphtali.

2. Its Location in Palestine:

In the allocation of the land, the lot of Naphtali was the last but one to be drawn ( Joshua 19:32-39 ). The boundaries are stated with great fullness. While it is yet impossible to trace them with certainty, the identification of sites in recent years, for which we are mainly indebted to the late Col. Conder, makes possible an approximation. The territory was bounded on the East by the Sea of Galilee and the upper reaches of the Jordan. Josephus makes it extend to Damascus ( Ant. , V, i, 22); but there is nothing to support this. The southern boundary probably ran from the point where Wâdy el - Bı̄reh enters the Jordan, westward along the northern side of the valley to Mt. Tabor. The western border may have gone up by way of Ḥaṭṭı̄n (Ziddim) and Yāḳūḳ (Hukkok) to Kefr ‛Anān (Hannathon), bending there to the West, including the land of er - Rāmeh (Ramah) until it reached the territory of Asher. Running northward again until nearly opposite Tyre, it bent eastward, and once more northward to the Liṭāny (Leontes), taking in the larger part of what is called by the Arabs Belād Beshārah and Belād es- Shukı̄f . Nineteen cities in Naphtali are named in  Joshua 19:32 ff. Among them was the famous city of refuge, Kedesh-Naphtali (which see), on the heights to the West of the Waters of Merom, where extensive ruins are still to be seen ( Joshua 20:7 ). It, along with Hammoth-dor and Kartan, was assigned to the Gershonite Levites ( Joshua 21:23;  1 Chronicles 6:76 ).

The land lying around the springs of the Jordan was included in the lot of Naphtali. It is clear that from this part, as well as from the cities named in  Judges 1:33 , Naphtali did not drive out the Canaanites. These the Danites found in possession at the time of their raid. There is no indication that Naphtali resented in any way this incursion of their kindred tribe into their territory (Jdg 18).

3. Physical Features:

The district thus indicated includes much excellent land, both pastoral and arable. There are the broad, rich terraces that rise away to the North and Northwest of the Sea of Galilee, with the fertile plain of Gennesaret on the seashore. The mountains immediately North of the sea are rocky and barren; but when this tract is passed, we enter the lofty and spacious lands of upper Galilee, which from time immemorial have been the joy of the peasant farmer. Great breadths there are which in season yield golden harvests. The richly diversified scenery, mountain, hill and valley, is marked by a finer growth of trees than is common in Palestine. The terebinth and pine, the olive, mulberry, apricot, fig, pomegranate, orange, lemon and vine are cultivated to good purpose. Water is comparatively plentiful, supplied by many copious springs. It was one of the districts from which Solomon drew provisions, the officer in charge being the king's son-in-law, Ahimaaz ( 1 Kings 4:15 ).

4. Distinction of the Tribe:

The free life of these spacious uplands, which yielded so liberally to the touch of the hand of industry, developed a robust manhood and a wholesome spirit of independence among its inhabitants. According to Josephus, who knew them well ( Bj , III, iii, 2), the country never lacked multitudes of men of courage ready to give a good account of themselves on all occasions of war. Its history, as far as we know it, afforded ample opportunity for the development of warlike qualities. In the struggle with Sisera, Naphtali was found on the high places of the field ( Judges 5:18 ). To David's forces at Hebron, Naphtali contributed a thousand captains "and with them with shield and spear thirty and seven thousand" ( 1 Chronicles 12:34 ). Their position exposed them to the first brunt of attack by enemies from the North; and in the wars of the kings they bore an important part ( 1 Kings 15:20;  2 Kings 12:18;  2 Kings 13:22 ); and they were the first on the West of the Jordan to be carried away captive ( 2 Kings 15:29 ). See Galilee .

5. Sites and Inhabitants:

The largest town in Mt. Naphtali today (in 1915) is Ṣafed , on the heights due North of the Sea of Galilee, often spoken of as the "city set on a hill." It is built in the form of a horseshoe, open to the North, round the Castle Hill, on which are the ruins of the old fortress of the Templars. This is a position of great strength, which could hardly fail to be occupied in ancient times, although, so far, it cannot be identified with any ancient city. It contains between 20,000,30,000 inhabitants. Over against it to the Northwest, beyond the deep gorge of Wâdy Leimūn , rises Jebel Jermuk , the highest mountain in Palestine proper (circa 4,000 feet) which may be the scene of the Transfiguration (which see). The inhabitants of Ṣafed were massacred by Sultan Bibars in 1266. The city suffered severely from earthquake in 1759; and it shared with Tibefias, also a city of Naphtali., the disaster wrought by the earthquake of 1837. It is one of the holy cities of the Jews.

6. Labors of Jesus in This District:

In the land of Naphtali Jesus spent a great part of his public life, the land of Gennesaret, Bethsaida, Capernaum and Chorazin all lying within its boundaries (compare  Matthew 4:15 ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

(Heb. Naphtali', נִפְתָּלַר , My Wrestling, see  Genesis 30:8; Sept. Νεφθαλί , but fourteen times Νεφθαλει , as  Genesis 30:8; eight times Νεφθαλείμ , as  Genesis 35:25; once Νεφδαλίμ , as  1 Kings 4:15; N.T. and Josephus, Νεφθαλείμ ; Vulg. O.T. Nephthali; but sometimes Nephtali, as  Genesis 30:8; N.T. Nephthalinm; Auth. Ver. N.T. "Nephthalim"), the sixth son of Jacob, and his second by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, born B.C. 1915, in Padan-Aram. (In the following account of this patriarch and the tribe descended from him we bring together a general view of the whole subject.) At his birth, the origin of the name is thus explained ( Genesis 30:8): "And Rachel said, With Wrestlings Of God Have I Wrestled" ( נַפְתִּלְתַּי נִפְתּוּלֵי אֵֹלחַים , i.e., according to the Hebrew idiom, "immense wrestlings; Ἀμηχάνητος Οιον , "as if irresistible," is the explanation of the name given by Josephus, Ant. 1:19, 8) "with my sister; and I have prevailed; and she called his name Naphtali." Both the Septuagint and Latin versions mistake the meaning and spoil the force of this passage ( Genesis 30:8). Onkelos and the Syriac version represent Rachel as having entreated God by prayer, and this seems to be the correct idea (see Kalisch, ad loc.). By his birth Naphtali was thus allied to Dan ( Genesis 35:25); and he also belonged to the same portion of the family as Ephraim and Benjamin, the sons of Rachel; but, as we shall see, these connections appear to have been only imperfectly maintained by the tribe descended from him. At the migration to Egypt four sons are attributed to Naphtali ( Genesis 46:24;  Exodus 1:4;  1 Chronicles 7:13). Of the individual patriarch not a single trait is given in the Bible, as up to the time of Jacob's blessing the twelve patriarchs his name is only mentioned in two public lists ( Genesis 35:25;  Genesis 46:24); but in the Jewish traditions he is celebrated for his powers as a swift runner, and he is named as one of the five who were chosen by Joseph to represent the family before Pharaoh (Targ. Pseudojon. on  Genesis 1:13;  Genesis 47:2). In the Testament Of The Twelvepatriarchs Naphtali dies in his one hundred and thirty-second year, in the seventh month, on the fourth day of the month. That work explains his name as given "because Rachel had dealt deceitfully" ( Ἐν Πανουργίᾷ Ἐποίησε ). It also gives the genealogy of his mother: "Balla (Bilhah), the daughter of Routhaios, the brother of Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, was born the same day with Rachel. Routhaios was a Chaldaean of the kindred of Abraham, who, being taken captive, was bought as a slave by Laban. Laban gave him his maid Aina or Eva to wife, by whom he had Zelipha (Zilpah) so called from the place in which he had been captiveand Balla" (Fabricius, Cod. Pseudepigr. V.T. page 659, etc.).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Naphtali (my wrestling), the sixth son of Jacob, and his second by Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid, born B.C. 1747, in Padan-Aram. Nothing of his personal history is recorded. The description given of Naphtali in the testamentary blessing of Jacob has been variously rendered. In the Authorized Version it is translated 'a hind let loose, he giveth goodly words.' But, according to the reading in the Septuagint, the verse maybe rendered, 'Naphtali is a goodly tree [TEREBINTH or OAK] that puts forth lovely branches.' We certainly incline to this view of the text; the metaphor which it involves being well adapted to the residence of the tribe of Naphtali, which was a beautiful woodland country, extending to Mount Lebanon, and producing fruits of every sort. With this interpretation, better than with the other, agrees the blessing of Moses upon the same tribe: 'O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord, possess thou the west and the south' .

When the Israelites departed from Egypt, the tribe of Naphtali numbered 53,400 adult males , which made it the sixth in population among the tribes; but at the census taken in the plains of Moab it counted only 45,400 , being a decrease of 8000 in one generation, whereby it became the seventh in point of numbers. The limits of the territory assigned to this tribe are stated in , which show that it possessed one of the finest and most fertile districts of Upper Galilee, extending from the Lake Gennesareth and the border of Zebulun, on the south, to the sources of the Jordan and the spurs of Lebanon on the north, and from the Jordan, on the east, to the borders of Asher on the west. But it was somewhat slow in acquiring possession of the assigned territory . The chief towns of the tribe were Kedesh, Hazor, Harosheth, and Chinnereth, which last was also the name of the great lake afterwards called Gennesareth. In the Hebrew history Naphtali is distinguished for the alacrity with which it obeyed the call to arms against the oppressors of Israel when many other tribes held back . In the time of David the tribe had on its rolls 37,000 men fit for military service, armed with shields and spears, under a thousand officers .