Jacob had thirteen children, twelve sons and one daughter, by four different women. These children are important in biblical history, as the twelve sons of Jacob became the heads of the twelve tribes. The account of the birth of Jacob’s children is found in Genesis 29—30, 35.
1) Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn. He was the son of Leah, Jacob’s first wife.
2) Simeon was next, and he was also a son of Leah.
3) Levi was the third of Jacob and Leah’s children.
4) Judah was the next. After bearing Judah, Leah stopped bearing children for a time.
5) Dan was born to Jacob by Bilhah, his wife Rachel’s handmaid. It was common practice in that day for a barren wife to give her servant to her husband to bear children in her name.
6) Naphtali was the next child, also through Bilhah.
7) Gad was number seven. He was the child of Jacob and Zilpah, the handmaid of Leah.
8) Asher was next. He was the second son of Zilpah.
9) Issachar was another son granted to Leah.
10) Zebulun was the next child, Leah’s sixth.
11) Dinah was Jacob’s only daughter, and her mother was Leah.
12) Joseph was Jacob’s twelfth child and Rachel’s first, as God opened her womb and enabled her to conceive.
13) Benjamin was Jacob’s last child. His mother, Rachel, who died during labor, named him Ben-Oni, which means “son of my trouble,” but Jacob renamed him Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.”
So the first four of Jacob’s children belonged to Leah, and she later bore him two more sons and a daughter—seven children total. The last two of Jacob’s children belonged to Rachel. In between were two sons of Bilhah (Rachel’s maid) and two sons of Zilpah (Leah’s maid).
God’s plan for this family included greatness, although it came through great hardship. Jacob’s children were blessed according to the covenant God had made with Abraham. “Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. . . . From them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:4–5).