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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Hebrew text Υisaskar , ("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  Genesis 29:35 to  Genesis 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,  Genesis 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,  Numbers 26:24), and Shimron, were heads of the four chief families of the tribe ( Genesis 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  Judges 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" ( Genesis 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 ( Deuteronomy 20:11;  1 Kings 9:21;  Isaiah 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" ( Judges 5:15;  Judges 5:19). 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  Psalms 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  Judges 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 ( Numbers 2:5;  Numbers 10:14-15); Nethaneel was their commander. Igal represented Issachar among the spies ( Numbers 13:7).

Paltiel, Israel's representative, was divinely appointed to take part in dividing Canaan ( Numbers 34:26). Israel was appointed to stand on Gerizim to bless ( Deuteronomy 27:12). The tribe's number at Sinai was 54,400 ( Numbers 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':  Exodus 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:  Psalms 4:6;  Psalms 51:21; inviting all men to the sacrificial feast, and to join them in the happy worship of Jehovah:  Psalms 22:28-31;  Isaiah 60:5-6;  Isaiah 60:16;  Isaiah 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"):  Deuteronomy 33:18-19;  Matthew 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 ( Joshua 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  1 Chronicles 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" ( 1 Chronicles 10:14 ff;  1 Chronicles 12:23;  1 Chronicles 12:32). 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" ( Romans 13:11;  Ephesians 5:16; see  1 Peter 4:1-4).

We should help to transfer the kingdom from Satan to its coming rightful Lord ( Luke 19:12-27;  Luke 19:44). 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" ( Daniel 12:3;  Acts 26:18). Omri of the great family of Michael ruled in David's time; possibly forefather of Omri who usurped the Israelite throne ( 1 Chronicles 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 ( 1 Kings 15:27-29;  1 Kings 16:2;  1 Kings 16:11), 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 ( Revelation 16:6).

The last glimpse of Issachar we have is, when many of the tribe joined in Hezekiah's Passover and religious revival ( 2 Chronicles 30:18), though unavoidably not cleansed in legal order; for these Hezekiah prayed "the good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary." But Issachar shall again come forth with his 12,000 sealed ones, when the Lord shall restore again the kingdom to Israel ( Acts 1:6;  Revelation 7:7;  Revelation 14:1).

2. Obed Edom's seventh son, doorkeeper of the sanctuary ( 1 Chronicles 26:5), one of the eight sons given Obed Edom, "for God blessed him."

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

ISSACHAR . The fifth son of Leah, born after Gad and Asher, the sons of Zilpah, and the ninth of Jacob’s sons (  Genesis 30:18 [E [Note: Elohist.] ], cf. 35:22b ff. [P [Note: 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 ( SBOT [Note: 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. J [Note: Jahwist.] and E [Note: Elohist.] , however, both connect it with the root sâkhar , ‘to hire’: J [Note: Jahwist.] , because Leah ‘hired’ Jacob from Rachel with Reuben’s mandrakes; E [Note: Elohist.] , because she gave Zilpah to Jacob. The difference shows that the traditions are of little value as linguistic guides.   Genesis 49:14-15 also appears to play upon the root sâkhar in its description of Issachar as ‘a servant under task work.’ This would harmonize with the interpretation ‘hired man’ or ‘labourer.’ It has, however, little to commend it.

P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s census at Sinai gives the tribe 54,400 ( Numbers 1:29 ), and at Moab 64,300 (26:25); cf.   1 Chronicles 7:5 . For the clans see   Genesis 46:13 and   1 Chronicles 7:1 ff..

The original seat of the tribe appears to have been S. of Naphtali and S.E. of Zebulun, ‘probably in the hills between the two valleys which descend from the Great Plain to the Jordan ( Wady el-Bireh and Nahr Galud )’ (Moore, Judges , 151). On the N.W. it touched upon Mt. Tabor, on the S. upon Mt. Gilboa. Eastward it reached to the Jordan. P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s lot (  Joshua 19:17-23 ) assigns to the tribe sixteen cities and their villages, scattered throughout the eastern end of the rich Plain of Esdraelon and the Valley of Jezreel. The tribe participated in the war against Sisera (  Judges 5:15 ), and Deborah perhaps belonged to it. The ‘with’ before Deborah might be read ‘people of’; but the verse is evidently corrupt. Baasha, the son of Ahijah, who succeeded Nadab, was ‘of the house of Issachar’; and, possibly, also Omri, who gave his name to the Northern Kingdom. The references in the Blessing of Jacob (  Genesis 49:1-33 ) would indicate that during the early monarchy Issachar lost both its martial valour and its independence. On the other hand, in the Blessing of Moses (  Deuteronomy 33:18-19 ) great commercial prosperity is indicated, and the maintenance of a sanctuary to which ‘the peoples’ flock to the sacrificial worship. Tola the judge, the grandson of Dodo, was a man of Issachar (  Judges 10:1 ). This name Dodo , occurring on the Mesha stele as that of a divinity, has led to the suggestion that he may have been worshipped in early times by the tribe. According to the Talmud, the Sanhedrin drew from Issachar its most intellectually prominent members. See also Tribes of Israel.

James A. Craig.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

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."  Genesis 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."  Deuteronomy 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."  1 Chronicles 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.  1 Chronicles 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.  1 Chronicles 26:5 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Issachar ( Ĭs'Sa-Kar ), God Hath Given Me My Hire. The fifth son of Jacob and Leah.  Genesis 30:18. The prophetical description of him uttered by his father,  Genesis 49:14-15, was fulfilled in the fact that the posterity of Issachar were a laborious people and followed rural employments, and were subject to the tributes of marauding tribes.

Issachar ( Ĭs'Sa-Kar ), The Territory of, included the great plain of Esdraelon, or Jezreel, and lay above that of Manasseh; its boundaries are given in  Joshua 19:17-23. It extended from Mt. Carmel to the Jordan, and from Mt Tabor to En-gannim. Zebulun was on the north, Manasseh on the south, and Gilead on the east, across the Jordan. It contained sixteen noted cities and their villages. Among them were Megiddo, Jezreel, Shunem, Bethshan, Endor, Aphek, Taanach; and Jezreel stood almost exactly in the centre of the territory. This region was one of the richest and most fertile in Palestine. Many historical events of great interest took place within the territory. It furnished two kings to Israel—Baasha and Elan.  1 Kings 15:27;  1 Kings 16:6. Their portion of Palestine is still among the most fertile of the whole land. See Jezreel, Plain of, and Palestine.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [5]

The son of Jacob, by Leah. ( Genesis 30:14-18) His name signifies a price of hire; and so it is rendered in the margin of our Bibles, derived from Shachar, a price. The most remarkable circumstance in the history of Issachar, is his father's prophetical blessing of him. ( Genesis 49:14-15) "Issachar (said the dying patriarch) is a strong ass, couching down between two burthens; and he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and become a servant into tribute." If the sense of this passage (as most of the other blessings Jacob when a-dying bequeathed to his children are) be spiritual, there is much of Jesus, and his person and salvation in it. Issachar, like all true Israelites, bends between the two burthens of sin and sorrow, for they are inseparable; and no rest but Jesus can be found, to deliver from the dreadful pressure. He is, indeed, "the rest wherewith he causeth the weary to rest" from the burden. Easy will be the tribe of a redeemed heart to the Lord, to bless him for his mercy. We find similar beauties in the blessing of Moses, the man of God, over Issachar, if explained in the same gospel-sense. (See  Deuteronomy 33:18-19)

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [6]

Nothing is known of the man Issachar apart from the fact that he was the fifth son that Leah bore to Jacob ( Genesis 30:17-18). The tribe descended from him inherited land that covered the important Plain of Esdraelon and Valley of Jezreel in northern Israel (see Palestine ; Jezreel ). This territory lay between Mt Tabor to the north and Mt Gilboa to the south ( Joshua 19:17-23).

Important trade routes ran through Issachar’s territory, connecting inland and coastal towns. The commercial activity that resulted, along with the good farming country of the area, brought much prosperity to Issachar. But its desire for prosperity meant that, except for one notable victory, it had to submit to the Canaanite people. Being equipped with an army of chariots, the Canaanites were well able to control the relatively flat country ( Genesis 49:14-15;  Deuteronomy 33:18-19;  Judges 4:12-15;  Judges 5:15). At least two national leaders of Israel came from Issachar ( Judges 10:1;  1 Kings 15:27).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Is'sachar. (Reward).

1. The ninth son of Jacob and the fifth of Leah.  Genesis 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.  Genesis 46:13;  Numbers 26:23;  Numbers 26:25;  1 Chronicles 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.  Joshua 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.  1 Chronicles 26:5.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 30:18 Numbers 26:23,25

Issachar, Tribe of, during the journey through the wilderness, along with Judah and Zebulun ( Numbers 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 ( Deuteronomy 27:12 ). The allotment of Issachar is described in  Joshua 19:17-23 . It included the plain of Esdraelon (=Jezreel), which was and still is the richest portion of Palestine ( Deuteronomy 33:18,19;  1 Chronicles 12:40 ).

The prophetic blessing pronounced by Jacob on Issachar corresponds with that of Moses ( Genesis 49:14,15; Compare  Deuteronomy 33:18,19 ).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

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

The Tribe Of Issachar numbered fifty-four thousand men in the desert, and on entering Canaan was the third in population,  Numbers 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,  Judges 5:15   1 Chronicles 7:15   12:32 .

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

the fifth son of Jacob and Leah,  Genesis 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.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [11]

 Genesis 49:14 (c) He is a type of the Lord Jesus bearing GOD's burden for man and man's burden for sin, thus making it possible for man to rest. Also a type of the Christian who bears GOD's burden for the lost and man's burden in his need of rest and redemption.

Holman Bible Dictionary [12]

 Genesis 30:18 Joshua 19:17-23 Judges 10:1-2 1 Kings 15:27

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [13]

See Tribes.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

is´a - kar ( ישׂשׂכר , yissā‛se'khār  ; Septuagint, Swete Ἰσσαχάρ , Issachár  ; Tischendorf, Issáchar , so also in the New Testament, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek):

(1) The 9th son of Jacob, the 5th borne to him by Leah ( Genesis 30:17 f).

1. The Name

His birth is in this passage connected with the strange story of Reuben and his mandrakes, and the name given him is apparently conceived as derived from 'ı̄sh sākhār , "a hired workman." There is a play upon the name in this sense in   Genesis 49:15 , "He bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under taskwork." Wellhausen ( Text der Büch. Sam ., 95) thinks that the second element of the name may denote a deity; and Sokar, an Egyptian god, has been suggested. The name in that case would mean "worshipper of Sokar." Practically nothing is preserved of the personal history of this patriarch beyond his share in the common actions of the sons of Jacob. Four sons were born to him before Jacob's family removed to Egypt ( Genesis 46:13 ). In that land he died and was buried.

2. The Tribe

At Sinai the tribe numbered 54,000 men of war over 20 years of age ( Numbers 1:29 ). At the end of the wanderings the numbers had grown to 64,300 ( Numbers 26:25 ). In the days of David, the Chronicler puts the figures at 87,000 ( 1 Chronicles 7:5 ). See Numbers . The place of Issachar in the desert-march was with the standard of the tribe of Judah (along with Zebulun) on the East side of the tabernacle ( Numbers 2:5 ), this group forming the van of the host ( Numbers 10:14 f). The rabbis say that this standard was of 3 colors, sardine, topaz and carbuncle, on which were inscribed the names of the 3 tribes, bearing the figure of a lion's whelp (Tg, pseudȯ Jon . on  Numbers 2:3 ). The captain of the tribe was Nethanel ben-Zuar ( Numbers 1:8 , etc.). Later this place was held by Igal ben-Joseph, the tribal representative among the spies ( Numbers 13:7 ). The prince chosen from Issachar to assist in the division of the land was Paltiel ben-Azzan ( Numbers 34:26 ). The position of Issachar at the strange ceremony near Shechem was on Mt. Gerizim, "to bless the people" ( Deuteronomy 27:12 ).

3. The Tribal Territory

Sixteen cities of Issachar are mentioned in  Joshua 19:17 , but the only indications of boundaries are Tabor in the North and Jordan in the East. We gather elsewhere that the territory of this tribe marched on the North with Zebulun and Naphtali ( Joshua 19:11 ,  Joshua 19:33 ); on the West with Manasseh and possibly Asher ( Joshua 17:10 ); and on the South with Manasseh ( Joshua 17:11 ). It does not seem to have had any point of contact with the sea. The portion of Issachar, therefore, included the plain of Esdraelon, Tabor, the hill of Moreh, and the slopes East to the Jordan. The fortresses along the South edge of the plain were held by Manasseh. Tola, a man of Issachar, held Shamir, a stronghold in Mt. Ephraim ( Judges 10:1 ). To Manasseh was given Beth-shean with her "towns" ( Joshua 17:11 ). No reliable line can be drawn for the South border. The district thus indicated was small; but it embraced some of the most fruitful land in Palestine. By the very riches of the soil Issachar was tempted. "He saw a resting-place that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under taskwork" ( Genesis 49:15 ). "The mountain" in  Deuteronomy 33:19 may possibly be Tabor, on which, most likely, there was an ancient sanctuary and place of pilgrimage. This would certainly be associated with a market, in which Issachar and Zebulun, the adjoining tribes, would be able to enrich themselves by trade with the pilgrims from afar. Issachar took part in the battle with Sisera (  Judges 5:15 ). To Israel Issachar gave one judge, Tola ( Judges 10:1 ), and two kings, Baasha and his son ( 1 Kings 15:27 , etc.).

4. Men of Issachar

Of the 200 "heads" of the men of Issachar who came to David at Hebron it is said that they were "men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" ( 1 Chronicles 12:32 ). According to the Targum, this meant that they knew how to ascertain the periods of the sun and moon, the intercalation of months, the dates of solemn feasts, and could interpret the signs of the times. A company from Issachar came to the celebration of the Passover when it was restored by Hezekiah ( 2 Chronicles 30:18 ). Issachar has a portion assigned to him in Ezekiel's ideal division of the land ( Ezekiel 48:25 ); and he appears also in the list in Rev ( Ezekiel 7:7 ).

(2) A K orahite doorkeeper, the 7th son of Obededom ( 1 Chronicles 26:5 ).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

1. Is´sachar (price-bought), a son of Jacob and Leah, born B.C. 1749, who gave name to one of the tribes of Israel .

2. The tribe called after Issachar. Jacob, on his death-bed, speaking metaphorically of the character and destinies of his sons, or rather of the tribes which should spring from them, said, 'Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens' . Remembering the character of the ass in Eastern countries, we may be sure that this comparison was not intended in disparagement. The ass is anything but stupid; and the proverbial obstinacy which it sometimes exhibits in our own country, is rather the result of ill-treatment than a natural characteristic of the animal. Its true attributes are patience, gentleness, great capability of endurance, laborious exertion, and a meek submission to authority. Issachar, therefore, the progenitor of a race singularly docile, and distinguished for their patient industry, is exhibited under the similitude of the meekest and most laborious of quadrupeds. The descriptive character goes on:—'And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant, and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute' which probably does not imply that reproach upon Issachar, as addicted to ignominious ease, which some commentators find in it. It seems simply to mean that finding itself in possession of a most fertile portion of Palestine, the tribe devoted itself to the labors of agriculture, taking little interest in the public affairs of the nation. Accordingly Josephus says that the heritage of the tribe 'was fruitful to admiration, abounding in pastures and nurseries of all kinds, so that it would make any man in love with husbandry' (Antiq. v. 1, 22). But although a decided preference of agricultural over commercial or military pursuits is here indicated, there seems no reason to conclude, as some gather from the last clause, that the tribe would be willing to purchase exemption from war by the payment of a heavy tribute. The words do not necessarily imply this; and there is no evidence that the tribe ever declined any military service to which it was called. On the contrary, it is specially commended by Deborah for the promptitude with which it presented itself in the war with Jabin and in the days of David honorable testimony is borne to its character . In this passage the 'children of Issachar' are described as 'men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do,' which probably means that they were men held in esteem for their prudence and wisdom, and who knew that the time was come when it was no longer safe to delay calling David to the throne of all Israel. On quitting Egypt the tribe of Issachar numbered 54,000 adult males, which gave it the fifth numerical rank among the twelve tribes, Judah, Simeon, Zebulun, and Dan being alone above it. In the wilderness it increased nearly 10,000, and then ranked as the third of the tribes, Judah and Dan only being more numerous (Numbers 1; Numbers 26). The territory of the tribe comprehended the whole of the plain of Esdraelon and the neighboring districts—the granary of Palestine. It was bounded on the east by the Jordan, on the west and south by Manasseh, and on the north by Asher and Zebulun. It contained the towns of Megiddo, Taanach, Shunem, Jezreel, and Bethshan, with the villages of Endor, Aphek, and Ibleam, all historical names: the mountains of Tabor and Gilboa, and the valley of Jezreel, were in the territory of this tribe, and the course of the river Kishon lay through it.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Issachar'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.