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Jacob’s sons - Who’s who?


Posted 22 Jan 2010

I’ve just completed the scene in Genesis 37, where Jacob gives a coat of many colours to Joseph.

Some time ago, whilst I was reading the Old Testament, I decided that it would be a good idea to create a banner for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. I thought it would be easier to identify them in my drawings, if they had some sort of banner or heraldry. The 12 tribes of Israel are direct decedents of the 12 sons of Jacob.

For several months I have been drawing the banners, basing my designs in scripture to be found in Genesis 49:1-28, where Jacob blesses his sons. Genesis 49 verse 1 says, ‘Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what is going to happen to you in the days to come.’ There follows Jacob’s prophesy about each son, which provided a visual image for my banner design. For example, Reuben (Jacob’s oldest son) is described by Jacob as being ‘as unruly as the waves of the sea’ & so I thought I would create a sea wave pattern & colour scheme, which reflects this prophecy.

Here are the 12 sons of Jacob, with Jacob’s prophetic words for each son, followed by the design element (often an animal) & colours I have used for each heraldic banner:


Name Prophetic words Banner design Colours
Reuben Unruly as the waves Double wave pattern Blues & greens
Simeon Man of violence, angry, murderer, Ox with bent leg Brown on Red
and crippled oxen just for sport (crippled)
Levi (As Simeon) 2 crossed swords Silver & brown
on white
Judah a young lion Lion’s head Orange, brown
on yellow
Dan a snake beside the road Coiled viper (snake) Light yellow/green
a poisonous viper along the path on Dark green
that bites the horse’s heels
so the rider is thrown off
Napthali is a deer let loose, producing Deer’s head Yellow on light green
magnificent fawns
Gad will be plundered by marauding 2 crossed scimitars red, gold & silver
bands, but he will turn and (swords) on yellow
plunder them
Asher will produce rich foods, Bread, grapes purple, green, gold
food fit for kings & gold cup brown on lilac
Issachar a strong beast of burden Donkey Grey on Red Brown
he will bend his shoulder to the task
Zebulun will settle on the shores of the sea Boat in harbour Brown, green
and will be a harbor for ships on waves on blue
Joseph is a fruitful tree, a fruitful tree Date palm tree Green, blue, brown
beside a fountain & fountain on Dark blue
Benjamin Benjamin is a wolf that prowls Wolf’s head design Grey on Red


Having decided on which design element & colour would reflect which son, it was easy, when it came to drawing this particular cartoon (Jacob giving the coat to Joseph) to simply colour each son’s clothing according to the colour scheme I had previously worked out.

Below is a copy of the cartoon I have just finished, with details of who’s who.

I have made the skin & hair colour of several of the son’s of Jacob similar, which is to reflect their particular parantage. As the diagram below shows, Jacob had 4 wives: Leah & Rachel, & each of their maidservants. From those 4 women came the 12 sons of Jacob…

Genesis 35:22-26 (NLT)
These are the names of the twelve sons of Jacob:
The sons of Leah were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin.
The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali.
The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher.

The sons of Leah I have grouped together & given them the same skin & hair colour.
The sons of Rachel, the sons of Bilhah & the sons of Zilpah are similarly grouped together by skin & hair colour.

Genesis 37 - Jacob's sons - Who's who
Genesis 37 – Jacob’s sons – Who’s who


Follow this link to see this Bible Cartoon on the BC Gallery page, with download & purchase options:
Bible Cartoon: Genesis 37 – Joseph’s Dreams – Scene 02 – The coat of many colours



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