Hebrews Hall Of Faith

Hebrews 11, "The Hall of Faith," maps to the 13 tribes.


The people of faith in this chapter map to the tribes as per the following table.

Tribe By Faith
Judah Abel
4By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. Hebrews 11:4 (Hebrews 11:4 NIV)
Reuben Enoch
5By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:5-6 (Hebrews 11:5-6 NIV)
Gad Noah
7By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Hebrews 11:7 (Hebrews 11:7 NIV)
Asher Abraham (1)
8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. Hebrews 11:8-10 (Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV)
Naphtali Sarah
11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age -- and Sarah herself was barren -- was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11:11-12 (Hebrews 11:11-12 NIV)
Manasseh Abraham (2)
11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age -- and Sarah herself was barren -- was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11:11-1213All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. Hebrews 11:13-16 (Hebrews 11:11-14 NIV)
17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19 (Hebrews 11:17-19 NIV)
Simeon Isaac
20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Hebrews 11:20 (Hebrews 11:20 NIV)
Levi Jacob
21By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:21 (Hebrews 11:21 NIV)
Issachar Joseph
22By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones. Hebrews 11:22 (Hebrews 11:22 NIV)
Zebulun Moses' Parents
23By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. Hebrews 11:23 (Hebrews 11:23 NIV)
Joseph Moses
24By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Hebrews 11:24-28 (Hebrews 11:24 NIV)
29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews 11:2930By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. Hebrews 11:30 (Hebrews 11:29-30 NIV)
Benjamin Rahab
31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. Hebrews 11:31 (Hebrews 11:31 NIV)
Dan The Judges
32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated -- 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. Hebrews 11:32-38 (Hebrews 11:32-38 NIV)

Notes on mapping

There are many "by faith" statements made throughout the chapter. More than there are tribes or individuals. So the basic strategy here is to map individuals who are named to tribes, realizing that some individuals are noted more than once for living "by faith."

Within the strategy of mapping individuals to tribes Abraham is used twice, first for Asher then for Manasseh. This might seem odd at first, but Moses is also used twice since he lands on Joseph and Joseph includes both Ephraim and Manasseh. Thus the two who are used twice are used on Manasseh, the double portion holder. In the end this doubling is strong confirmation that the map is right even if it seems odd at first.

There's an interlude commentary given in verses 13-16 about the first 5 people/tribes in the list. At first it seemed this interlude should be skipped, but after further consideration it appears to fit with Manasseh. You can ponder for yourself whether this is correct, but it seems to speak of the early "pilgrims" and puritans and such who fled to the new world to have their own country without the religious persecution they experienced at home. This is in contrast to the earlier mentioned tribes who either did not leave home or may have sought the same country as Manasseh (think Vikings = Reuben or Spain = Gad).

Often times it's a little challenging knowing where Dan fits into the series. The tribal order we're using is the seal date order given in Revelation 7, which does not list Dan directly. However, Dan is present in that list, though inferred, at the start, or zero point. Remember, Dan is the "judge" and as such everything is measured from or by him. Here in Hebrews 11 it seems Dan appears last in the list, in the closing passage dealing with people from the book of Judges. It appears Dan sometimes starts the list and other times ends the list, which may not even turn out to matter as these things tend to be cyclic anyhow.


The following notes give some confirmation of the general mapping of tribes to people in Hebrews 11. It's given in order.

Judah mapping to Abel boggles me.

Also not sure why Reuben is matched to Enoch other than the sense that Enoch had a place of intimacy with God and Reuben seems to be the tribe that best picks up intimacy in relationship, though used inappropriately in his youth. Reuben is the ark of the contract in the tent, the inner room, the bridal chamber, the place of meeting, the place of intimacy.

Gad and Noah are a wonderful match. Noah leaves the old world by boat and Gad does the same famously with the likes of Christopher Columbus and Magellan.

Asher and Abraham make sense when "foundations" are the topic. Asher's feet are bathed in oil and his commandment is not to bow to (the feet of) idols. Asher's oil is what lights his lamp in the tent, and that lamp gives light unto one's path, as the Psalm says, which is what Abraham needed on his journey down an unknown path.

Naphtali and Sarah makes sense in that Sarah is described as nearly "dead" when she gives birth. Germany of course was decimated in World War II, nearly dead, and without any colonies or kids out and about. Her fruit comes after nearly dying, which means now for Germany.

Manasseh hits Abraham and his near sacrifice of Isaac. Manasseh's tent article is the altar, which matches, and his plague is soot into the air from the furnace (like ashes from the altar) which produces boils. Job is one of Manasseh's books and Job's boils are the same as those in Egypt. The Notes on mapping above give a little more insight into how Manasseh informs the proper grid, which is something he does many times.

Simeon as Isaac makes sense. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Simeon's redemptive gift is giving counsel, though sometimes he gives/follows bad counsel.

Levi as Jacob is a solid match. Jacob is described as blessing and leaning on his staff as he worships. Levi of course is the one with the staff in Scripture (the L in his name too) and Levi blesses all the tribes just as Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph and his own sons.

Issachar and Joseph are an interesting match. Issachar has a general theme of hard work or working hard land as per Jacob's blessing at the end of Genesis. Joseph had difficult times of service in Potiphar's house in Egypt (rather than home with his father Jacob) and then in the prison house in Egypt. But as we known Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt and brought deliverance to his family, which probably says something that is not understood or under appreciated about Issachar. We also know Issachar knew the times as per Chronicles. Joseph knew the timing of the famines in Egypt.

Zebulun and Moses' Parents are also an interesting match. Zebulun became Greece, the first nation to develop democracy. Zebulun has a recurring theme of origins, first, beginnings. As a match to Moses' parents the writer of Hebrews is dealing with the beginnings of Moses. A nice match to Zebulun.

Joseph and Moses are a good match. Joseph is the double portion holder and as such he has two distinct passages here. He has five verses about Moses and then 2 about the larger community of Israel. Joseph has both Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh's promise is that he would be a "great nation" (singular) and Ephraim's promise is that he would become a "community of nations" (plural). We see this same pattern here where Moses the individual is spoken about then the passage turns it's attention to the community of tribes who together went through the Red Sea and together marched around the walls of Jericho.

Benjamin and Rahab is another strong match. Rahab was a prostitute, but she had faith and was the sole survivor when Israel destroyed Jericho. When the Assyrian's defeated Israel and Judah, the only people to remain in the land were those inside the city walls of Jerusalem (the main city in Benjamin's territory), and that by an act of God. Other passages of Scripture seem to paint a scenario where the same thing will happen again in modern Israel (Benjamin). It's also the case that Benjamin is the only brother who is not Christian. That's not to say that Christians have it all right, but they do acknowledge God in the flesh while as a tribe Benjamin is a prostitute by denying his husband.

Dan and the closing passage also appears to be a good fit. Dan's promise was that he would judge his brothers. Of course the World Court is in the Netherlands as are other agencies and courts that fulfill this prophecy/promise. The closing passage of Hebrews 11 begins with a list of notable people from the book of Judges. A nice match. It then goes on to say how much trouble many of these people had to endure in their lifetime ending with the general theme of these people being outcasts who lived on the edge of civilization. Dan had trouble taking his land in Joshua and Judges and he eventually takes the sea instead. He's pushed back, he lives on the edge of civilization, but apparently this leads to a better resurrection for him.