1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zebulun

ZEBULUN, a tribe of Israel, named after Jacob's sixth “son” by Leah. The narrator of Gen. xxx. 20 offers two etymologies of the name, from the roots z–b–d, “give,” and z–b–l, “exalt (?).”[1]

The country of Zebulun lay in the fertile hilly country to the north of the plain of Jezreel, which forms the first step towards the mountains of Asher and Naphtali, and included the goodly upland plain of el-Baṭṭōf. The description of its boundaries is obscure, owing in some measure to its position between Issachar and Naphtali, with one or the other of which it is frequently combined. At one period Zebulun, like Dan and Asher (Judges v. 17), would seem to have reached the sea and bordered on Phoenician territory (Gen. xlix. 13, Deut. xxxiii. 18 seq.). In the latter passage allusion is made to a feast upon a sacred mountain field by Zebulun and Issachar in common, and to the wealth these tribes derived from commerce by sea. Zebulun had a chief part in the war with Sisera (Judges iv. 6, v. 18; see Deborah); it is said to have furnished at least one of the “judges,” Elon the Zebulonite (Judges xii. 11 seq.); and the prophet Jonah, who foretold the victories of Jeroboam II., came from the border town of Gath-hepher (probably the modern el-Meshhed) (2 Kings xiv. 25). The deportation of the northern tribes under Tiglath Pileser IV. (2 Kings xv. 29) appears to have included Zebulun (Isa. ix. 1). Nazareth lay within the territory of Zebulun but is not mentioned in the Old Testament.  (S. A. C.) 

  1. A connexion with a divine name (cf. Baal-Zebul) is not improbable; see H. W. Hogg, Ency. Bib., art. “Zebulun.”