When you come to a section of the Bible with long lists of people, what do you do? Read faster? Here’s something to ponder from the ESV Study Bible:
The Transjordanian tribes (5:1–26)
The northern tribes (7:1–40)
The greatest amount of detail is devoted to Judah, Levi, and Benjamin. Judah and Benjamin bracket the lists, while Levi is placed at the center. The significance of this arrangement is discussed in greater detail below; briefly, it indicates that Judah and Benjamin (the core of the old southern kingdom, along with Simeon, whose territory was merged with Judah’s) enclose or enfold Israel, while the Levites provide its spiritual heart.