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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(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
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
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 ).
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Issachar'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/i/issachar.html. 1915.