The earliest tribal confederation of which we know may have included only ten tribes rather than the traditional twelve known from sources later than the Song of Deborah. If we assume that Gilead is related to or identical with Gad, and Machir to Manasseh, we still have three tribes missing in the song—Levi, Simeon and Judah. Levi is a special case; it was always a sacerdotal “tribe” similar to a religious order that males from lay tribes could join. Levi is sometimes omitted in later tribal lists. More conspicuous by their absence are Simeon and Judah, the latter especially so, since it is always included in the later tribal lists. It seems likely that “twelve” became the ideal number for the confederation of tribes, but that the number and composition of tribes fluctuated through time with changes in demography and geography. As fusion and fission occurred among clans, some rose to tribal status (perhaps Judah is an example after the 12th century B.C.) while others receded (e.g., Machir, which in later genealogical lists becomes a “son” of Manasseh, now elevated to full tribal status).