Issachar Referred To As A Strong Donkey!

The Tribe Of Issachar


Even less is known about Issachar than his brother Zebulun. In fact, so little is known about Issachar, that the ancient Israelite scholars went out of their way to invent good things to say about his descendants.


“Issachar is a sturdy donkey,
    resting between two saddlepacks.
When he sees how good the countryside is
    and how pleasant the land,
he will bend his shoulder to the load
    and submit himself to hard labor.

Genesis 49:14-15 (NLT)


The Tribe Of IssacharIssachar was situated at the eastern end of the fertile Jezreel Valley (Josh. 19:17-22), sandwiched between Zebulun and the Jordan River. The judge Tola was from Issachar (Judges 10:1-2); the men of Issachar fought against Sisera (Judges 5:15); and David had soldiers from that tribe who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32). Many of the men of this tribe were valiant in battle (1 Chron. 7:5).


Issachar being called an “ass” or a “donkey” sounds pretty demeaning to us; it could get you kicked out of class or even smacked around a little bit for saying that to somebody.


But, it was not so to the ear of people in Jacob’s day. This was not a derogatory remark; donkeys were valued creatures that were a combination of taxicabs and the trucking industry of that era.


In sports today, we might call a player a “diesel”, short for diesel truck. And, of course, it means that athlete is powerful, single minded and straightforward, no-nonsense: the opposite of finesse. Athletes that are referred to as “diesels” wear that title proudly. It would have been the same with Issachar being referred to as a strong donkey.


The image in Genesis 49:14-15 is that of a strong people who weren’t afraid to carry burdens. The people of Issachar were hard working and devoted to the soil. They were content with their lot and made the most of it. This tribe produced no great heroes, but their everyday labor was a help to others. After all, not everybody in Israel was called to be a Judah or a Joseph!


To Be Continued…


Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Authentic



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