Son of Bilhah, Rachel's maid, and Jacob and one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Rachel's reference to “mighty wrestlings” with her sister Leah (Gen. 30.7) plays on the name Naphtali (“wrestler”). The tribe is allotted much territory west of the Sea of Galilee and the upper Jordan (Josh. 19.32–39; Map 3:XY2–3). The military prowess of Naphtali is praised in the blessings of Jacob (Gen. 49.21) and Moses (Deut. 33.23). During the reign of Solomon, Naphtali becomes an administrative district headed by Solomon's own son‐in‐law (1 Kings 4.15).
During the divided monarchy Naphtali undoubtedly suffered from the wars between Israel and Syria (e.g., 1 Kings 15.20). “All the land of Naphtali” was captured by the Assyrians in 732 BCE (2 Kings 15.29).
Gary N. Knoppers