In Joshua, the land is apportioned to the tribes. Each tribe as follows: Reuben, Simeon, Levi (no land, because they were priests), Judah, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Ephraim (Joseph's younger son), Manasseh (Joseph's older son), and Benjamin. Why isn't Joseph his own tribe? Further, in Revelation 7, when each of the tribes has 12,000 present in heaven, why does Joseph again appear as his own tribe? Here we find: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin. Did the translators make a mistake with their Hebrew or Greek? I would appreciate any light you can shed on my questions. --Preston

Joseph is not 'his own tribe," as you yourself observe, because his sons became two tribes. Again, as you note, the reason is that the Levites were not to inherit any land, since their inheritance was the Lord himself. (They actually did possess some Levitical towns, but nothing like a tribal homeland.) These two adjustments meant that the number of tribal allotments remained at 12.

In Revelation, whose hundreds of symbols are meant to be taken figuratively, I believe a theological point is being made. Here Ephraim has been subsumed into Joseph, while Manasseh (a very large tribe in OT geography) appears independently. Levi appears as its own entry, just like the other, non-priestly, tribes. Why? I believe because their priestly services are no longer needed. In fact, the Lord himself dwells among the people, so there is no need for a temple of any kind in the New Jerusalem.

One additional fact: the tribe of Dan has been omitted. It seems Joseph remains two tribes (Joseph and Manasseh) to exclude Dan. Dan was known for its heinous idolatry and unfaithfulness to the Lord, so perhaps another theological point is being made here.

At any rate, we are not to take the Revelation 7 (or 14) description literally, since that would exclude from heaven all non-Jews, all women, all non-virgins, and the entire tribe of Dan. For more on this, see my Revelation and the End of the World (IPI, 2006). But no, the translators have not erred. The reasons for the apparent discrepancies are theological, not translational.

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