The Myth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel by Andrew Tobolowsky
New Identities Across Time and Space
The Myth of the Twelve Tribes of Israel is the first study to treat the history of claims to an Israelite identity as an ongoing historical phenomenon from biblical times to the present. By treating the Hebrew Bible’s accounts of Israel as one of many efforts to construct an Israelite history, rather than source material for later legends, Andrew Tobolowsky brings a long-term comparative approach to biblical and nonbiblical “Israelite” histories. In the process, he sheds new light on how the structure of the twelve tribes tradition enables the creation of so many different visions of Israel, and generates new questions: How can we explain the enduring power of the myth of the twelve tribes of Israel? How does “becoming Israel” work, why has it proven so popular, and how did it change over time? Finally, what can the changing shape of Israel itself reveal about those who claimed it?
Year first published: 2022