Abraham was chosen by God to be the father of a new nation. God made a covenant with Abraham that He would bless him. He would be the father of nations and through him all the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). His son Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob to carry on the line of Abraham. He would be the recipient of the covenant promise made to Abraham. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and the tribes of Israel come from the descendants of Jacob/Israel’s sons.
Jacob moved to Egypt together with all his family, but at this point they were just a very large family. After 400 years Jacob’s family had now become a nation but they were slaves in Egypt. God redeemed them and brought them out of Egypt, and under Moses’ leadership God transformed them from being a group of 2 million slaves to becoming a nation with order, rules and regulations. God gave very detailed information to Moses about the tribes and families, their inheritance and land because they were going into a country to conquer it, and make it their own.
Tribes had key roles
Each tribe became similar to individual states that made up the nation of Israel. Various tribes had key roles, such as the Levites who became the religious leaders, the priests, of this new nation. Therefore, we find that God speaks a lot about this tribe, and also how this tribe is to fulfill the work that God had given them.
Judah is also another important tribe because from this tribe the promised Messiah would come. The names of tribes were not so important when the Israel settled down in the land of Canaan. Only when a leader or prophet came from a specific tribe, one of the tribes were highlighted for some reason or another.