Joseph – Twelve Tribes of Israel
The Tribe of Joseph is not usually listed with the Hebrew tribes although Joseph is one of Jacobs twelve sons, the eldest of Rachel. It is sometimes referred to as the House of Joseph. Rather, the two tribes founded by his sons Ephraim and Manasseh are listed separately. This is so because, upon his death-bed, Jacob grants the privilege of the Hebrew first-born upon Joseph (Rachel’s eldest and not to Reuben who is Leah’s eldest). According to Torah law, the first born receives a “double portion” (pi sh’tayim) relative to his siblings. Thus Joseph is entitled to two tribes who will have rights to two portions of land in the Land of Israel. This also fits in with the fact that because the Levites do not receive any portion in the land (they are to tend to the service of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem) that when the Tribe of Levi is omitted, the number of tribes still comes to twelve. See Tribe of Ephraim, Tribe of Manassah.
Exile and Descendants
However, both the Tribe of Ephraim and the Tribe of Manassah are listed as part of the Lost Tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrian Empire after they conquered the Kingdom of Israel some 2,700 years ago.
Some groups have claimed to be the descendents of the lost Tribes, namely the Tribe of Manassah. Groups known to have alleged ancestry with these groups are the Pathans (Pashtuns) of Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the Mizos of the Indian states Mizoram and Manipur.