A large social group having a common inheritance, and resembling a tribe in magnitude.
In all three instances where the Hebrew word ʼum·mahʹ occurs, it refers to a large group of non-Israelites and is translated “clan.” Descendants of Ishmael’s 12 sons, for example, are described as “clans” early in the history of that ethnic group. (Ge 25:16) The same is true of the descendants of Midian. (Nu 25:15) The term is also found in Hebrew poetry at Psalm 117:1, where it appears in a parallelism with “nations.”
The Hebrew word sheʹvet, which is usually rendered “tribe,” is translated “clan” at Numbers 18:2. This is an exceptional instance to show the distinction the Hebrew text makes, for in this verse the two words mat·tehʹ and sheʹvet appear, both of which are normally rendered “tribe.”