Land of Naphtali

Israelite Territory

Land of Naphtali

The land of Naphtali, situated in the northern reaches of the land of Israel, encompassed a portion of territory that included diverse geographic features such as mountainous regions, fertile plains, and proximity to the Sea of Galilee. It was named after the tribe of Naphtali, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, which was itself named for Naphtali, the son of Jacob and Bilhah (Genesis 30:7-8). Known for the fertility of its land and the productivity of its inhabitants, the region of Naphtali played a vital role in the agricultural sustenance of the Israelites.

Following the conquest of the land of Canaan, the boundaries of Naphtali were established, stretching from the majestic Lebanon mountains in the north to the shores of the Sea of Galilee in the south. The territory also bordered the Jordan River to the east and abutted the lands of the tribes of Asher and Zebulun to the west. Within these borders lay the nineteen cities with their villages, a testament to the tribe’s industriousness and growth.

The inhabitants of the land of Naphtali bore witness to significant events and were active participants in the historical and spiritual narrative of the Israelites. The valor of the tribe is exemplified in the story of Barak, the Naphtalite warrior, who was instrumental in the victory over the Canaanite army led by Sisera (Judges 4:6-15). Additionally, the region is noted in prophecy as one where a “great light” would be seen, a reference later understood to be fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus Christ, who spent much of his time in these parts, especially in places such as Capernaum, which sat at the border of Zebulun and Naphtali (2 Nephi 19:1; Matthew 4:13–16).

Despite the tribe’s early prominence and contributions, historical changes over time, including conquest and exile by external powers such as the Assyrians, led to shifts in the fortunes and influence of Naphtali. The mention of the land of Naphtali in 2 Nephi is a retrospective reflection, pointing to a period in which the area had already seen both blessings and afflictions and was destined to be part of the backdrop for the earthly life of the Messiah.


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