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Reference: Issachar


Recompense, so named by Leah his mother, Ge 30:18, the ninth son of Jacob, born B. C. 1749. The character of his posterity was foretold by Jacob and by Moses, Ge 49:14-15; De 33:18-19.

The TRIBE OF ISSACHAR numbered fifty-four thousand men in the desert, and on entering Canaan was the third in population, Nu 1:28; 26:25. Their portion, having the Jordan on the east, Manasseh on the west, Zebulun north, and Ephraim south, included a considerable part of the fine plain Esdraelon, the most fertile in the country. They were industrious agriculturists, and are mentioned with honor for their brave and wise patriotism, Jg 5:15; 1Ch 7:1-5; 12:32.

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hired (Ge 30:18). "God hath given me," said Leah, "my hire (Heb sekhari)...and she called his name Issachar." He was Jacob's ninth son, and was born in Padan-aram (comp. Ge 28:2). He had four sons at the going down into Egypt (Ge 46:13; Nu 26:23,25).

Issachar, Tribe of, during the journey through the wilderness, along with Judah and Zebulun (Nu 2:5), marched on the east of the tabernacle. This tribe contained 54,400 fighting men when the census was taken at Sinai. After the entrance into the Promised Land, this tribe was one of the six which stood on Gerizim during the ceremony of the blessing and cursing (De 27:12). The allotment of Issachar is described in Jos 19:17-23. It included the plain of Esdraelon (=Jezreel), which was and still is the richest portion of Palestine (De 33:18-19; 1Ch 12:40).

The prophetic blessing pronounced by Jacob on Issachar corresponds with that of Moses (Ge 49:14-15; comp. De 33:18-19).

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Hebrew text Yisaskar, ("he is hire"); but the Masoretes as KJV Issachar, ("the hired one").

1. Leah's oldest son, Reuben, by presenting to Rachel, hired Jacob for Leah, the fruit of which intercourse was a fifth son by her, the first born after the interval from Ge 29:35 to Ge 30:17; the ninth son of Jacob. (See MANDRAKES (supposed to produce fertility).) Two reasons for his name are assigned: first, because she hired Jacob by the selfdenying gift of the mandrakes; secondly, as she says "God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden (Zilpah, Ge 30:9) to my husband." Both, in her view, were successive parts of one self denial (her aim being the multiplication of offspring) and the ground for naming him Israel. His sons Tola, Phuvah, Job (or Jashub, Nu 26:24), and Shimron, were heads of the four chief families of the tribe (Ge 46:13).

Jacob prophetically describes the tribe, "Israel is a strong donkey crouching down between two burdens (the cattle pens or sheepfolds, Speaker's Commentary; 'the hurdles,' Keil; found only in Jg 5:16); and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant (slave) unto tribute" (Ge 49:14-15), namely, unto the tribute imposed by the various invaders attracted to his land by the abundant crops. The strong boned he-ass used for field work (not the lighter and swifter she-ass for riding), crouching down between panniers or amidst sheepfolds, symbolizes a race content with agricultural labours instead of aspiring to political rule; a robust race, with a pleasant inheritance inviting to ease, as not requiring such toil as less fertile lands; ease at the cost of liberty. Pleasant serfdom, however suitable to Canaanites, was unworthy of Israelites, called of God to rule not serve (De 20:11; 1Ki 9:21; Isa 10:27).

The name Israel is akin to the Hebrew "daily labourer." But in the conflict with Jabin and Sisera "the princes of Israel were with Deborah, even Israel and also Barak"; indeed the battle was perhaps on Israel's territory, "by Tadhath at the waters of Megiddo" (Jg 5:15,19). Conder however suggests that the whole scene of the battle was near Tabor within a radius of five or six miles. The kings assembled at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; but their fall was at Endor, according to Ps 83:10. Barak would not be likely to desert the fastnesses of Tabor and march 15 miles over the boggy plain to attack the Canaanites strongly placed on the sides of the low hills at Taanach. Scripture says, "I will draw unto thee Sisera ... unto the river Kishon." From Endor the kings ventured into the open plain S.W. of Tabor. Megiddo thus answers to Mujedda, a mound with ruins in the Jordan valley.

From it flowed "the waters of Megiddo" in the valley of Jezreel. The defeat of Sisera drove his host into "that river of battles (so Gesenius translates for 'ancient'), the river Kishon." Harosheth of the Gentiles answers to El Harathiyeh. The "wooded country" answers to the oak woods on the hills W. of Kishon, to which those Canaanites who went through the swamps fled. The Kedesh in Jg 4:9 is not that of Naphtali 30 miles off, but that on the sea of Galilee 16 miles from Tabor, a place suited for a gathering of the tribes, and within Naphtali's boundaries. Between this Kedesh and Tabor there is a broad plain in which is a place called Bessum = Bitzanaim, the plain to which Sisera fled (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, October, 1877, p. 191). On the march in the desert Issachar was on the E. with Judah and Zebulun his brothers, the foremost in the march (Nu 2:5; 10:14-15); Nethaneel was their commander. Igal represented Issachar among the spies (Nu 13:7).

Paltiel, Israel's representative, was divinely appointed to take part in dividing Canaan (Nu 34:26). Israel was appointed to stand on Gerizim to bless (De 27:12). The tribe's number at Sinai was 54,400 (Nu 1:29); at the close of the wilderness march it reached 64,300, inferior to Judah and Dan alone. In Canaan Issachar's proximity to Zebulun continued. "Of Zebulun Moses said, Rejoice, Zebulun in thy going out (enterprise), and Issachar in thy tents" (comfortable enjoyment): i.e., not merely Zebulun was to be noted for "going out" in maritime traffic and Issachar for nomad life" in tents," and grazing, and agriculture; but, according to poetical parallelism, the whole is meant of both tribes, Rejoice Zebulun and Issachar in your labour and your rest, in your undertakings at home and abroad, both alike successful. The thought is individualized by its distribution into parallel members.

They shall call the people unto the mountain (they will not make their riches into selfish mammon, but will invite the nations to 'the mountain of the Lord's inheritance': Ex 15:17; a moral not physical elevation, the Holy Land and its sanctuary), there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness (not merely outwardly legal sacrifices, but also in a right spirit of faith and loving obedience: Ps 4:6; 51:19; inviting all men to the sacrificial feast, and to join them in the happy worship of Jehovah: Ps 22:28-31; Isa 60:5-6,16; 66:11-12), for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand (not merely the fish, purple dye, sponges, and glass; but the richest treasures of sea and land shall flow into Israel, of which Zebulun and Issachar were to be flourishing tribes.

Here in Galilee Jesus imparted the spiritual riches, to which the Galilean apostles in due time "called" all "peoples"): De 33:18-19; Mt 4:13-16. Its inheritance extended in length from Carmel to the Jordan; in width to Mount Tabor on the N. (Josephus, Ant. 5:1, section 22); it consisted of the very rich plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon. Jezreel (whose name = "the seed plot of God" implies fertility) stood in the center, with Mount Gilboa on one hand and Little Hermon (Ed Duhy) on the other (Jos 19:17-23). It is the thoroughfare from E. to W. and from N. to S. Here Ahab had his palace, selecting the site doubtless for its beauty. D. Kerr thinks that Issachar lay to the E. of Manasseh and Ephraim, along the entire line of the Jordan from the sea of Chinneroth on the N. to nearly the Salt Sea on the S. Its lot thus was of a triangular form, having its apex at Jericho and its base to the N. of the plain of Jezreel, where it was met by Zebulun (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, January, 1877, p. 47).

Tola the judge was of Issachar, though his abode was at Shamir in Mount Ephraim. The nomadic character of Issachar appears in 1Ch 7:1-5; no less than 36,000 of its men were marauding mercenary "bands (giduwdim) of soldiers for war," a term applied elsewhere only to Gad's "troops" and to the irregular bodies of Bedouin-like tribes round Israel. Two hundred "heads" (not as KJV "bands," for it is roshee not giduwdim) of Issachar came to Hebron to help in "turning the kingdom of Saul to David"; they were "men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do ... and all their brethren were at their commandment" (1Ch 10:14 ff; 1Ch 12:23,32). Spiritually, Christians are men "knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Ro 13:11; Eph 5:16; see 1Pe 4:1-4).

We should help to transfer the kingdom from Satan to its coming rightful Lord (Lu 19:12-27,44). Jerusalem fell "because she knew not the time of her visitation." They are truly "wise" who "turn many from the power of Satan unto God" (Da 12:3; Ac 26:18). Omri of the great family of Michael ruled in David's time; possibly forefather of Omri who usurped the Israelite throne (1Ch 27:18), and built Samaria (perhaps on the same hill Shamir on which Tola of Issachar judged). Baasha son of Ahijah, another usurper, was also of Issachar (1Ki 15:27-29; 16:2,11), of lowest birth; his son Elah and all his kindred were murdered by Zimri, even as Baasha had slain Jeroboam's house, "not leaving to him any that breathed." Retributive justice pays blood with blood (Re 16:6).

The last glimpse of Issachar we have is, when many of the tribe joined in Hezekiah's Passover and religious revival (2Ch 30:18), though unavoidably not cl

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The fifth son of Leah, born after Gad and Asher, the sons of Zilpah, and the ninth of Jacob's sons (Ge 30:18 Elohist, cf. 35:22b ff. Priestly Narrative). The name (in Heb. Yiss-askar) is peculiar in form, and of uncertain signification; but it is quite probable that it has arisen from a corruption of 'ish-sakhar as Wellhausen (Sam. 95) suggests, and further, that the latter element is the name of a deity. Ball (BOT Sacred Books of Old Testament, ad loc.) suggests the Egyptian Memphite god Sokar. The name would then correspond to the name 'ish-Gad by which the Moabites knew the Gadites. Jahwist and Elohist, however, both connect it with the root s

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1. The ninth son of Jacob, and the fifth of Leah. Of his personal history there is no record except that he had four sons, who became heads in the tribe. When Jacob blessed his sons he said, "Issachar is a strong ass, couching down between two burdens, and he . . . . bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute." Ge 49:14-15. This seems to imply that this tribe, with Zebulun, would mix with the world and become slaves to it for profit. When Moses blessed the tribes, Issachar and Zebulun are also placed together. He said, "They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand." De 33:19. This seems to point also to commercial enterprise. Some of Issachar resorted to David at Ziklag, of whom it is said they "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." 1Ch 12:32. At the first numbering there were of Issachar 54,400 fit for war, and at the second 64,300. They are described as 'valiant men of might,' and they furnished 36,000 men of war. 1Ch 7:4-5. The tribe possessed some of the most productive portions of the land, including the extensive plain of Jezreel, with the Jordan on its border for about 50 miles.

2. Son of Obed-Edom, a Korhite Levite. 1Ch 26:5.

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(reward). I. The ninth son of Jacob and the fifth of Leah.

Ge 30:17-18

(B.C. 1753-45) At the descent into Egypt four sons are ascribed to him, who founded the four chief families of the tribes.

Ge 46:13; Nu 26:23,25; 1Ch 7:1

The number of the fighting men of Issachar, when taken in the census at Sinai, was 54,400. During the journey they seem to have steadily increased. The allotment of Issachar lay above that of Manasseh.

Jos 19:17-23

In the words of Josephus, "it extended in length from Carmel to the Jordan, in breadth to Mount Tabor." This territory was, as it still is, among the richest land in Palestine. It is this aspect of the territory of Issachar which appears to be alluded to in the blessing of Jacob.

2. A Korhite Levite, one of the door-keepers of the house of Jehovah, seventh son of Obed-edom.

1Ch 26:5

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ISSACHAR, the fifth son of Jacob and Leah, Ge 30:14-18. He had four sons, Tola, Phovah, Job, and Shimron. We know nothing particular of his life. The tribe of Issachar had its portion in one of the best parts of the land of Canaan, along the great plain or valley of Jezreel, with the half tribe of Manasseh to the south, that of Zebulun to the north, the Mediterranean to the west, and Jordan, with the extremity of the sea of Tiberias, to the east.

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