Word Study: Zebulon


Isaiah 9:1 “Nevertheless her dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when  at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulon and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.” KJV
Zebulon – Hebrew (root word) zebel – dwell, inhabit, gift. An eponymous metaphor for distress both personal and national.
In ancient times if you really wanted to wish bad upon a person, you would say: “May you become like Zebulon”   Yet, we will not use that expression today because of this prophecy in Isaiah 9:1.
The word Zebulon means a gift.  Zebulon was the sixth and last male child of Leah and the tenth for Jacob.  Leah felt certain that now that she gave Jacob a sixth male child that he would finally fall in love with her – he didn’t.   Instead there followed the children from Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin, who were greatly loved and only enhanced Jacob’s love for Rachel.
Poor Zebulon, the last on the totem pole, born in hopes of bringing the love of his father to his mother and even failing in that.  Zebulon, however, was faithful; they were ready and willing to give their lives for the nation of Israel in Judges 5. Yet, Zebulon got the smallest allocation of land when the land was divided up in Canaan, They were the first to get conquered and taken into captivity and then they became a metaphor for trouble.   In fact the root word for Zebulon in the Ugaritic is “zbl” which is also the origin for the name of “Baal.”
Do you ever feel like Zebulon?  You have been faithful, ready to give your life for the sake of the Gospel.  Yet, you seem to always get to short end of the stick.  Man I sure feel like Zebulon at times.   I see teachers with far less education and training than mine get huge platforms that I don’t have. I see faithful saints in desperate need of a healing, financial miracle, a ministry or a relationship; who sit back and listen to wonderful testimonies of financial miracles, healings, and restored relationships from people who have been less than faithful. They sit back in their brokenness wondering why they are a Zebulon, always getting the poke in the eye and never getting that miracle, restoration or ministry they prayed and pleaded with God to receive.
Well for all of us Zebulon’s, let us embrace Isaiah 9:1 for though we are driven to darkness, we will one day not be filled with gloom or anguish like that hapless loser called Zebulon,  for one day, like Zebulon, God  will glorify our “derek” or way. Derek expresses the idea of walking a path.  The path we walk will day pass from a road of trouble and disappointment to one that is glorious.
For you see the town of Bethlehem was located in the territory of Zebulon.   Jesus was born in the land of the losers and he ministered in the land of Naphtali which was also an eponymous metaphor for a loser.  To all of us Zebulon’s and Naphtali’s out there, need I say more?