Naphtali (“my struggle”) was the sixth son of Jacob. and second son with Bilhah. He was the founder of the Israelite Tribe of Naphtali.

The name Naphtali probably refers to the struggle between Rachel and Leah for the attention of Jacob.

Leah and Rachel were 2 sisters, married to the same man, Jacob.  After Leah had given birth 2 4 sons, Rachel, who had not been able to have children herself, was desperate.  She took matters into her own hands, “convincing” Jacob to sleep with her handmaid, Bilhah.  In their culture, any child(ren) Bilhah had would be regarded as Rachel’s own.  In time, Bilhah gave birth to 2 sons: Dan & Naphtali.

Rachel regarded Naphtali’s birth as a victory in her struggle with Leah (Gen. 30:8).


Naphtali is listed in Deut. 34:2 when God took Moses up to Mt. Nebo, and showed him the extent of the land which he had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… the tribal allotments.

According to Gen. 46:24, Naphtali had 4 sons.  The name of his wife/wives are not given.  He and his family migrated to Egypt, with the rest of the clan where they remained until the Exodus.

According to the apocryphal Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, he died aged 137 and was buried in Egypt.

The tribe of Naphtali never drove out the Canaanites as they were instructed to do… preferring to subjugate them as forced laborers (Judges 1:33).  This made them vulnerable to pagan influences… just as God knew it would.


Naphtali’s birth was seen as a “win” in a family “struggle”.  There are few “wins” when it comes to family struggles.  In fact, the only “wins” come as a result of repentance… and reconciliation.

Naphtali was perceived as a small victory on an ongoing battle… and that’s the way he grew up to live life.

His tribe would, eventually, be involved in a struggle to claim their part of the Promised Land.  They chose, instead, to claim a perceived “win”… and continue to live with the struggle.

*  A “win” is not really a “win” unless – and until – it has God’s approval.


You can read Naphtali’s story in Genesis 30:7,8.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s