In Genesis 49:13 (NASB)

“Zebulun will reside at the seashore; And he shall be a harbor for ships, And his flank shall be toward Sidon.

In Joshua 19:10-16 (NASB)

10 Now the third lot came up for the sons of Zebulun according to their families. And the territory of their inheritance was as far as Sarid. 11 Then their border went up to the west and to Maralah, and it reached Dabbesheth and reached to the [a]brook that is opposite Jokneam. 12 Then it turned from Sarid to the east toward the sunrise as far as the border of Chisloth-tabor, and it proceeded to Daberath and up to Japhia. 13 From there it continued eastward toward the sunrise to Gath-hepher, to Eth-kazin, and it proceeded to Rimmon which stretches to Neah. 14 Then the border circled around it on the north to Hannathon, and it ended at the Valley of Iphtahel. 15 Included also were Kattah, Nahalal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem; twelve cities with their villages. 16 This was the inheritance of the sons of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.

Considering Zebulun's territory isn't at the seashore, what's the intent of the sea reference in this Genesis passage?

  • Sea of Galilee.
    – R. Emery
    Feb 18, 2021 at 7:59
  • @R. Emery - The same fact that the passage makes reference to 'Sidon' this excludes that here the verse refers to the 'Sea of Galilee'. Jan 30, 2023 at 8:29

1 Answer 1


This is an old "chestnut" and has caused confusion because of the subtlety in Hebrew wording. The phrase "by the seashore" in Gen 49:13 can be rendered "toward the sea shore". Several commentaries deal with this quite well.

Ellicott says this -

(13) Zebulun . . . —“Sea” is plural in the Heb., and is rightly so rendered in the Syriac. The territory of the tribe lay upon the inland sea of Gennesaret, but did not extend to the shore of the Mediterranean. We do not know of any literal fulfilment of the prediction, but Moses also speaks of Zebulun and Issachar as tribes that would “suck of the abundance of the seas.” It is very possible that, living in the neighbourhood of the Phœnicians, they took part in maritime pursuits; and thus the general meaning of the blessing may be that Zebulun would be a tribe, not of agriculturists, but of traders. It is also remarkable that Tyre, which was much nearer the tribe of Zebulun, and was the leading city in David’s time, is not mentioned, but only the more ancient town of Sidon.

Benson says:

Genesis 49:13. Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea — This was fulfilled, when, two or three hundred years after, the land of Canaan was divided by lot, and the “border of Zebulun went up toward the sea,” Joshua 19:11.

The Cambridge Commentary says this as well -

haven Rather, as R.V. marg., Heb. beach or shore. The same word is used to describe the beach washed by the sea (Joshua 9:1), and the shore which is sought by the ships. Zebulun’s territory evidently at one time included the coast line. In Joshua 19:10-16 the tribe of Asher comes in between Zebulun and the Mediterranean. In Jdg 5:17 it is Asher who is abiding by “the haven of the sea.” But, in Deuteronomy 33:18-19, Zebulun is joined with Issachar in sucking “the treasure of the seas and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

upon or, by. See note on Genesis 48:7. Delitzsch understood the preposition to mean “towards.” The versions, Sam., LXX, Vulg., Syr. Pesh., render “up to,” “as far as,” following a different reading (‘ad, for ‘al). “Border,” better “flank,” or “further side.”

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