On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress resolved that: “the flag of the 13 United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white: That the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” In celebration of this resolution, June 14 was officially established as Flag Day (as of 1916).

The Tribes of Israel also had flags, but these were more like organizational guides. By Divine order, the Israelites encamped “each person by his flag, according to the insignia of his ancestor’s house, at a distance surrounding the Tent of Meeting shall they encamp” (Numbers 2:2). According to the Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:7, this meant that each tribe had a specific color and emblem:

Reuben – Red flag, with mandrake flowers
Simeon – Green flag, with buildings of the city of Shechem
Levi – Red, white and black flag, with the High Priest’s breastplate
Judah – Sky blue flag, with a lion
Issachar – Bluish black flag, with a sun and moon
Zebulun – White flag, with a ship
Dan – Blue flag, with a snake
Naphtali – Deep wine colored flag, with a deer
Gad – Black and white flag, with a tent camp
Asher – Pearlescent colored flag, with an olive tree
Joseph – Black flag, with Egypt depicted upon it (Since this tribe was divided into Joseph’s two sons, their flags were similar. However, Ephraim’s flag had a bull, while Menasseh’s had a wild ox.)
Benjamin – Multicolored flag, with a wolf

*Some flags refer to historical occurrences (Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Joseph) while others reflect Jacob’s blessings (Judah, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher and Benjamin).

  1. Hi, I am interested in the subject of Israel’s tribal flags and I thought you might be interested in some things I’ve found in my studies.



    Shevatim Degelim

    Torah Portion Bemibar, Numbers 2, and the encampments of the twelve tribes around the Mishkan.

    (Num. 2:2) “Every one of the sons of Israel shall pitch by his own Degel with the sign [Owth] of their father’s house.”

    Here are the names in the chronological birth order and each of their twelve patriarchal Degelim colors.

    [1] Reuben – Red square flag, with mandrake flowers.
    [2] Simeon – Green square flag, with buildings of the city of Shechem.
    [3] Levi – The exterior square flag frame is made of three striped sections of white, black, and red extending vertically. Superimposed at the center is the image of the Hoshen [the priestly Breastplate, which itself has three rows of the twelve square tribal Degelim surrounded by the the varicolored woven colors combining gold, sky-blue, purple, crimson / scarlet, and white. They are a blended fabric motif surrounding all twelve tribal Degelim.] The central square, just described, could be said to be the flag of YHWH‘s kingdom. [In the ancient Semitic concept, vertical fabric stripes, known as tiger stripes are a sign of honor.]
    [4] Judah – Sky blue square flag, with an image of a lion.
    [5] Dan – Blue square flag, with an image of a snake on a scale.
    [6] Naphtali – [clear wine] Purple square flag [burgundy], with an image of a hind.
    [7] Gad – Grey [a varicolored blend of black white and sky blue color thread cord then interlacing together into weave fabric] square flag, with an image of an encampment of tents.
    [8] Asher – Blue-green square flag, with an image of a woman’s turban and an olive tree.
    [9] Issachar – [dark] Blue square flag, with an image of a donkey carrying a saddle bag, or of the sun and the moon.
    [10] Zebulun – White square flag, with an image of a ship.
    [11] Joseph – Black square flag, with an image of a sheaf of wheat.
    * a. Ephraim – Black square flag, with an image of a bullock.
    * b. Manasseh – Black square flag, with an image of an oryx.
    [12] Benjamin – All tribal colors in a varicolored combination, including all tribal colors of red, green, white, black, blue, bluish-green and purple, the seven [7] varicolored thread cord used in their fabric Flag.

    {The varicolored is a twisted blend of these colors into a single cord then interlaced together into woven fabric.} The varicolored square flag has a central image of a wolf.

    The square Breastplate is a Hebraic concept that used four sides square as a symbol for a deeply spiritual aspect that is convey in the Scripture, Hebraic history, thoughts, ideas, dreams and written prophecy that convey the presence of, accompanying by or being a companion to YHWH.

    Four equal sides square. As each tribal Degel flew surrounding the picturesque Mishkan [Tabernacle], with the Levitical Degel by its’ entrance, all their tents appeared to create a square camp of Zion. The Jewish study Bible [JSB] commentary on (Numbers 2:3-31): The twelve tribes are arranged to form a square camp [around the Tabernacle] of four divisions with three tribes in each.

    Refer to in (Ezekiel 1:10-28) are found the four living creatures there what Ezekiel saw had the precise faces of these four divisional Degelim. The four living creatures match the four leading tribal division in (Number 2) surrounding the Tabernacle.

    Ezekiel spoke of the symbolic four and square which are collectively representation of Zion. The four gold threads denote His sacred name, His name is written with four golden Hebrew letters. There four tassels in the four corners of the garments. The four Israelite division, four threads groups represent the perfection square, His Tabernacle and the square Holy of Holies, His dwelling place, His venerated Kingdom, The Square Breastplate and Integrity of the four equal side square Degel design, A intense thought associated with the twelve Breastplate Jewels, is point out by ancient sources [Yad, Kley HaMikdash 9:9 and Midrash HaGadol] that “The Hoshen stones were Square shape Jewels.” The consideration is that the Breastplate Jewels where Square representations of the Israelite square Degelim. All serve as a symbol to representation what its said in (Ezekiel 1:28) “The presence of YHWH.”

  2. Hi.

    There are fourteen tribal flags [Strong’s # H1714, Degel.] including those of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh

    Since the Exodus the use of the term armies [Tsaba, Strong’s # 6635,] signifies a permanent Israelite army (Exodus 6: 26, 7: 4, 12: 17, 12: 51.) In the organization of tribes in the wilderness, each tribe was assigned a specific location in respect to the tabernacle, three tribes assigned to each side with the tabernacle at the center. Each of the four groupings [east/south/west/north] had a “leader tribe” that led that grouping, with each group of three tribes having a army unit flag. Judah emblem of a Lion face to the east, Reuben emblem of a Young Man face to the south, Ephraim emblem of a Bullock face to the west, and Dan emblem of a Eagle face to the north, were the four “lead tribes” designated with the four square army unit flags. The Jewish study Bible’s commentary on Numbers 2: 3-31 states the following: “The twelve tribes are arranged to form a square camp around the Tabernacle of four army with three tribes in each army.”

    In Ezekiel 1: 5-10, the prophet has a vision in which four-faced cherubim echo the four emblems traditionally understood to represent these four square army units flags of Israel. They are seen in that vision in Ezekiel as surrounding the celestial tabernacle [Mishkan]. Ezekiel 42:16-20 and 45:2 describes the well-known scriptural maxim of the symmetrical square temple [Mishkan,] the symmetrical square shape as well characterize all of YHWH’s flags.

    An additional scriptural flag/banner was called the Nes [Strong’s # H5251]. In Exodus 17 the Hebrew words “YHWH Nissi” mean YHWH’s flag/banner or YHWH is my Flag/Banner, depending on how the idiom is interpreted. While the Hebrew word {Nissi} literally means “my Nes,” (YHWH’s Nes), the related word Nasas [Strong’s # 5264] means {Nes} bearers, or {Nes} flag/banner-bearers, signifying those who bore the flag of YHWH, Israel’s God and King.

    In the ancient times rulers were considered demigods, part human/part deity god-kings, and their flags represented them and bore related symbols. For example, the flag of King Cyrus III bore the image of a golden eagle deity, illustrating Cyrus’ legitimacy in relationship to that national god and identifying him as both king and demigod over his people. Ancient kings were perceived and worshipped as deities in conjunction with existing “gods.” Likewise, the god-Pharaohs had flags on high flagpoles in the entrances to their royal palaces, temples, and roadside shrines. Their culture shared a religious practice of setting up a flag as the icon for a god, this custom was so prevailing that the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for the word “god” [neter also pronounce ne’t] is identified as a flag on a flagpole. Bearing in mind that it is believe that the Hebrew term {Nes} has a different root, it is just as plausible that Moses may had used the term {Nes} in the Pentateuch as a play on the Egyptian word for the {ne’t} because the Hebraic {Nes} had a similar meaning as “YHWH Nissi,” in the role of YHWH’s iconic flag/banner.

    Each tribal flag in Hebrew is {degel.} Each army unit flag is {tsaba degel,} and the royal flag of Israel’s God YHWH is the {Nes.} There are 14 individual tribal flags plus the 4 army flags, and the additional {Nes} flag brings the total count of biblical flags to 19.


  3. Our church is doing a men’s ministry based on the 12 tribes of Israel, I’m with Ephraim. Where can the tribal flags/banners be purchased, especially Ephraim?

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