trib (in the Old Testament always for matteh, 183 times, or shebhet, 145 times, also spelled shebhet; Aramaic shebhat (Ezra 6:17)):
Both words mean "staff," and perhaps "company led by chief with staff" (OHL, 641) is the origin of the meaning "tribe." In the Apocrypha and New Testament always for phule, from phuo, "beget," with dodekaphulon, "twelve tribes," in Acts 26:7. Of the two Hebrew words, shebhet appears to be considerably the older, and is used in Psalms 74:2; Jeremiah 10:16; 51:19 of the whole people of Israel, and in Numbers 4:18; Judges 20:12 (Revised Version margin); 1 Samuel 9:21 (Revised Version margin) of subdivisions of a tribe (but the text of most of these six verses is suspicious). Further, in Isaiah 19:13, shebhet is used of the "tribes" (nomes?) of Egypt and phule in Matthew 24:30 of "all the tribes of the earth," but otherwise shebhet, matteh and phule refer exclusively to the tribes of Israel. In 2 Samuel 7:7 for shibhete, "tribes," read shophete, "judges" (of the Revised Version margin).
Burton Scott Easton
These files are public domain.