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?

  • 1
    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.
    – user1160
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 3:11
  • 2
    @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. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 3:14

4 Answers 4


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.

  • That's a better answer, I'm gonna delete mine if I can
    – user1160
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 5:08
  • WOW!!! Thank you so much for this thorough answer. Truly fascinating. The more knowledge I gather the smaller I feel. . . Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 6:10
  • No reason to feel small - we're all just children of God learning to fill enormous shoes. Commented Jan 23, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 16:46
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    @AffableGeek "Isaac...is not a Muslim hero" This is not true. Both Isaac and Ishmael (PBUT) were prophets of God according to Islam. Take a look at the verses "So when he [Abraham] abandoned them and what they served besides God, We granted him Isaac and Jacob, and each of them We made a prophet."(19:49) and "And We granted him [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob afterward, and each of them We made a good doer. And We made them leaders who guide by Our command, and We inspired them to do good works and hold the contact prayer and contribute towards purification, and they were in service to Us"(21:72-3).
    – Artus
    Commented Mar 9, 2015 at 18:19

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.


He is referring to Africans and black ppl in the America and the Caribbean who do not know they are the real israelites, more than 90% of "jews" are not the real descendants of Jacob but merely converts. He says yesterday we were kings but who are we today meaning we r the lowest of lows due to disobedience.


Biblically, the sons of Jacob are the children of Jacob, who was renamed "Israel".

However, there is a deeper meaning to the term "Israel" raised by the appearance of the term "spiritual Israel", the Israel of God.

Since the promise to Abraham, that the world would be blessed through him, was passed on to his children, by the clarification that the world would be blessed through his children, one needs to understand that the Bible teaches that the children of Abraham are not identified by flesh, descent or conversion, but by believing God's revelations.

That's why Jesus mentions that He had sheep who belong to another flock. They were people who believed God's revelation either through a formal covenant or through their conscience, but who were not Jews.

As a result, we can understand that the recognised sons of Jacob according to the Bible are people who believe what God reveals to them. They are found among those who are labelled Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc., Theists, and are identified by faith, not by possessing Torah, circumcision, or by blood descent.

There is no Biblical reference to sons of Jacob who are asleep.

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