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There is a song by Damian Marley that refers to "The sleeping sons of Jacob". I looked up 'Sons of Jacob' on Wikipedia and now understand them to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, but I have only heard "sleeping" sons of Jacob in the Damian Marley song.

I am curious to know what the significance of "Sleeping" may be, if anything. Is this a reference to some religious concept?

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Biblically, sons of Jacob are only the Israelites, or as they are more commonly known these days, the Jews. I have a feeling a Biblical explanation is not what you're looking for. – Nicolás Carlo Jan 23 '12 at 3:11
@nickecarlo- Thank you. I would actually appreciate any explanation, biblical or otherwise. The more of these things I come across, the more fascinating I find the Bible. – Matthew Patrick Cashatt Jan 23 '12 at 3:14
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Having read the lyrics, I'm not convinced this has anything to do with the biblical Jacob at all. There is no other reference, except for an oblique reference to Israel.

If one does assume that this is the Jacob who became Israel (hence Jews only), then the "sleeping sons of Jacob" would probably refer to the lost 10 tribes of Israel. After Israel was invaded by Assyria in 722bc, the northern tribes were dispersed throughout the empire and the known world. After that invasion, only Judah and Benjamin (the remaining two tribes of the Southern kingdom) retained any distinct identity as Jews. Some parts of Africa (Uganda and Ethiopia to name two in particular) claim to be descended from these northern tribes.

The idea that a once great part of western history is alive in Africa could be the spark the writer wishes to blow into full flame, that Africa might "wake up" and play a greater role on the world stage, as it did in the past.

To get back to the Biblical issue, however, it is Abraham- Jacob's grandfather, who is the father of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

According to both the Quran and the Torah, Abraham sent out Ishmael, once Isaac was born. Ishmael, and his birth mother Hagar made it to Egypt. Both traditions state that Ishmael was Abraham's firstborn, and Islam posits that Ishmael was also supposed to be the promised son of the Lord. Isaac, the father of the Jews (through Jacob, later renamed Israel) and the Edomites (through Esau) is not a Muslim hero, whereas Ishmael is.

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That's a better answer, I'm gonna delete mine if I can – Nicolás Carlo Jan 23 '12 at 5:08
WOW!!! Thank you so much for this thorough answer. Truly fascinating. The more knowledge I gather the smaller I feel. . . – Matthew Patrick Cashatt Jan 23 '12 at 6:10
No reason to feel small - we're all just children of God learning to fill enormous shoes. – Affable Geek Jan 23 '12 at 15:07
small quibble - Ishmael would be the father of the Arabs, not the Africans (Egypt was already a strongly going concern by the time of Ishmael) – warren Jan 23 '12 at 16:46
@AffableGeek I don't want to be a pain here but the Arabs in North Africa moved there during and after the so called "conquests of Islam" in the 7th century AD. The ensuing annihilation of the local population resulted in establishing the majority of Arabs in North Africa. Oh and this isn't specifically written in the Quran, but Muslim tradition also states that Ishmael was the one whom Abraham took to sacrifice, not Isaac. – Nicolás Carlo Jan 23 '12 at 19:57

The Bible lists out the sons of Jacob (also known as Israel) in the following verses. These children of Jacob also became the twelve tribes of Israel.

 22b  Jacob had twelve sons: 

 23 The sons of Leah: 
   Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, 
   Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 

 24 The sons of Rachel: 
   Joseph and Benjamin. 

 25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah: 
   Dan and Naphtali. 

 26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah: 
   Gad and Asher. 

   These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram. 

27 Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. 28 Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. 29 Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. Genesis: 35:22-27

If this is not what you wanted to know, then I have misunderstood your question. Please let me know if you're looking for something else.

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Thanks, nickecarlo. I really appreciate your thoughts. – Matthew Patrick Cashatt Jan 23 '12 at 6:10

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