numbered at Sinai ( Numbers 1:31 ) and before entering Canaan ( 26:27 ). It was one of the tribes which did not drive out the Canaanites, but only made them tributary ( Judges 1:30 ). It took little interest in public affairs. It responded, however, readily to the summons of Gideon ( 6:35 ), and afterwards assisted in enthroning David at Hebron ( 1 Chronicles 12:33 1 Chronicles 12:40 ). Along with the other northern tribes, Zebulun was carried away into the land of Assyria by Tiglath-pileser ( 2 Kings 15:29 ).
In Deborah's song the words, "Out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer" ( Judges 5:14 ) has been rendered in the RSV, "They that handle the marshal's staff." This is a questionable rendering. "The word sopher ('scribe' or 'writer') defines the word shebhet ('rod' or 'pen') with which it is conjoined. The 'rod of the scribe' on the Assyrian monuments was the stylus of wood or metal, with the help of which the clay tablet was engraved, or the papyrus inscribed with characters. The scribe who wielded it was the associate and assistant of the 'lawgivers.'" (Sayce).