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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Asher

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ASHER . 1 . A town on the S. border of Manasseh ( Joshua 17:7 ). Site unknown. 2 . Tob 1:2 = Hazor, No. 1 .

ASHER . The eighth son of Jacob, by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid. Leah, joyful over his birth, named him ‘Happy’ ( Genesis 30:13 ). This ‘popular etymology’ dominates J [Note: Jahwist.] ’s thought in the ‘Blessing of Jacob’ ( Genesis 49:20 ) and in the ‘Blessing of Moses’ ( Deuteronomy 33:24 ). Asher’s territory was especially fertile and fitted to promote prosperity. Whether this fact operated in its naming, or whether the name was originally that of a divinity of a militant Canaanite clan mentioned frequently in the Tell el-Amarna letters as the Mârî abd-Ashirti (‘Sons of the servant of Asherah’), or whether the Canaanite tribe ‘Asaru , known from the inscriptions of the Egyptian king Seti I. (14th cent.), gave the name to the tribe, it is impossible to say. The two last theories imply an amalgamation of original inhabitants with a Hebrew clan or tribe, which, probably prior to the entrance of the southern tribes, had found its way into the North. A predominance of the Gentile element thus introduced would account, in a measure at least, for the non-participation of the Asherites in the war against Sisera, although they are said to have sent a contingent to the support of Gideon in his war with the Midianites ( Judges 6:35 ; Judges 7:23 ), and, according to the Chronicler, went 40,000 strong to Hebron to aid David in his struggle for the kingship ( 1 Chronicles 12:36 ). According to the earliest writing extant in the OT, viz., the Song of Deborah, the other northern tribes, Zebulun to the south and Naphtali to the east of it, flung themselves with fierce abandon against the army of Sisera, while ‘Asher sat still at the haven of the sea’ ( Judges 5:17 f.). According to P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] ’s census, there were 41,500 males ‘twenty years old and upward’ at Sinai, and when they arrived in the plains of Moab they had increased to 53,400 ( Numbers 1:41 ; Numbers 26:47 ).

P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] gives also the territorial boundaries, including the names of 22 cities and their dependent villages, the majority of which are unidentified (Joshua 19:24-30 ; cf. Judges 1:31-32 , and Joshua 17:11 J [Note: Jahwist.] ). Asher’s territory was gained by settlement, not by conquest ( Judges 1:31 f.). The tribe played an unimportant rôle in Israel. It is not mentioned in 1 Chronicles 27:16 ff., where the tribes are enumerated together with their respective leaders under David. For the genealogies see Genesis 46:17 , Numbers 26:44 , 1 Chronicles 7:30 ff. See also Tribes of Israel.

James A. Craig.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Asher'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/a/asher.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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