Zebulun זבולן

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 “Zebulun shall settle by seashores.  He shall be at the ship’s harbor, and his last border will reach Zidon.” (Genesis 49:13)

“Rejoice, O Zebulun, in your excursions, and Issachar in your tents.  The tribes will assemble at the mount, there they will slaughter offerings of righteousness, for by the riches of the sea they will be nourished, and by the treasures concealed by the sand.” (Deuteronomy 33:18-19)

“Zebulun,” the first piece in Lynette Joel’s Twelve Tribe of Jacob, is a celebration of the relationship between Zebulun and Issachar, representative of the interwoven values of Torah scholarship and economic prosperity. 

Zebulun’s portion in the land of Israel was on the seashore, and its population centers centered around Israel’s main seaports.  The men of Zebulun were prosperous seafarers, and the entire nation would come and purchase the imports they brought from foreign lands.  However, Zebulun did not keep their wealth for themselves.  Rather, they divided their prosperity with their neighboring tribe, Issachar, enabling the people of Issachar to learn Torah without distraction. 

This relationship exemplified the Jewish philosophy “Without flour, there is no Torah,” that one can only achieve true scholarship if his physical needs are fulfilled.  However, the driving force behind all economic prosperity and growth is the value that one puts into his spiritual and intellectual pursuits.  Therefore, one who supports Torah study takes a portion in the spiritual reward for the Torah learned, in exchange for the material investment in the Torah scholar. 

This concept is represented by the image of the Torah learners in the sail of Zebulun’s ship, alluding to the fact that the true wind in Zebulun’s economic sails is their investment in the Torah study of Issachar.  On the other hand, Zebulun is always placed first in the verses because Issachar’s Torah was only in Zebulun’s merit. 

The blue and purple hues of the ocean represent the Chilazon mollusk that was harvested in the waters of Zebulun, from which the rich, deep royal blue color of techelis was derived.