Now Reuben went
in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and
brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please
give me some of your son's mandrakes."
But she said to
her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband?
Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" And Rachel said,
"Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son's mandrakes."
When Jacob came
out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said,
"You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son's
mandrakes." And he laid with her that night.
And God listened
to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son.
Leah said, "God has given me
my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband." So she called
his name Issachar. (Genesis 30:14-18)
Meaning Of The Name
Issachar comes from the Hebrew word yissakar. It means "he
will bring a reward." It comes from the root word nasa meaning "to
lift, to advance, arise, bring forth, carry away, exalt, high, hold
up, lofty, raise up etc." The second root word is sakar
meaning "payment of contract, salary, fare, hire, price, reward,
brother, Reuben, found mandrakes in the field and brought them home
to his mother, Leah. But when Rachel knew about the mandrakes, she
demanded some from Leah. This made Leah angry. There was much
rivalry and jealousy between these two precious sisters.
Leah has borne
Jacob four sons at this moment in time. Rachel has no children but
she had Jacob's love. But both are miserable. One has the love of
husband but no children; and the other has children but no love of
fruit producing plants with dark green leaves and small
bluish-purple flowers. The mandrakes are a relative of the potato
family, which grew abundantly throughout Israel and the
The yellow fruit
of the mandrake was small, sweet tasting, and fragrant. It had
narcotic qualities and may have been used medicinally. The fruit of
the mandrake was also referred to as the "love apple." It was
considered a love potion, and could make a woman fruitful.
needed these mandrakes so that she could bear children. As Leah also
had stopped bearing children, she needed them too. But what good
were the mandrakes to her without the husband? Thus, she made a love
transaction with Rachel, which Rachel herself suggested that Jacob
would be "rented" or "hired out" to Leah for one night in exchange
for the mandrakes. From this, we understand that Jacob had likely
stopped sleeping with Leah completely. He has four wives by then,
and must be busy with the other three - Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah.
When Jacob came
in from the field, Leah went out to meet him and tell him about the
arrangement she had made with Rachel. As the story unfolds, your
heart will be filled with sympathy for this unloved and love-hungry
woman, Leah. She was so unashamed, so humble to be able to humiliate
herself to such as degree as to tell her husband that she had
actually hired him for one night. And yet her motives are pure. She
wanted children, and she also needed the love of her husband. Maybe,
this will cause Jacob to love her.
That night, God
opened her womb and caused her to conceive. Issachar was born, not
by flesh alone but by the divine intervention of God. That is why
she called this child Issachar, which means "I paid for what I
hired" or "I got paid back." It also means, "It was worth it all."
Issachar went, he carried that token of his mother's deed in his
life. "Hired! Hired! I was bought and paid for a few mandrakes."
This token became stamped in the very character and personality of
Issachar throughout his life. Issachar and his descendants carried
the mark of servanthood and of being hired and paid for, upon their
Issachar is a
born servant. He is born to serve. He is both a humble and honorable
servant; a man of compassion. He is unobtrusively present. His
presence in a crowd is not noticeable; but just when he is not
around, his absence will be felt. When a job needs to be done,
Issachar is always ready to help and do it. This is his calling and
The wages of
Issachar were not paid in silver and gold but the payment in love
for the services of love. Issachar's service to the Lord cannot be
counted in dollars and cents but in the height, depth, breath,
length and intensity of love rendered and received. This tribe
willingly accepted what was before them and with what they had.
significant thing about his name is the other root-word nasa which
means "to lift, exalt, raise up etc." God had placed in each human
being a desire to fly, be lifted, go up high, to nasa. Though
Issachar was carrying burdens but he was able to lift up his burdens
to the Lord and be released of the loads. He was able to fly even in
times of difficulties and calamities.
"Come to Me, all you who labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will
find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is
light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
The birth date
of Issachar was significant personally to me. He is the fifth son of
Leah but the ninth son of Jacob. I was born in 1959 (note: 59). He
was conceived in the time of the wheat harvest, the month of Sivan,
which is from late May till mid-June. So his birthday would be in
the month of Adar, which is March, and possibly the first three
weeks. I was born in the second week of March.
Symbols Of Issachar
The symbol of
Issachar is the humble donkey coaching between two burdens. Another
symbol of Issachar is the sun and the moon, which represents
understanding the times and seasons.
Gemstone Of Issachar
The amethyst is
the gemstone of Issachar. It is a violet or purple variation of
"amethyst" is derived from the Greek word amethystos, which means
"not intoxicating." This expresses the belief that wine, drunk out
of an amethyst cup, would not intoxicate its owner from strong
royal colour makes it a favorite stone. It is symbolic of the
balance and poise in the life of the Issacharite.
Jacob's Prophecy To Issachar
Jacob: Issachar is a strong
ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was
good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to
bear, and became a servant unto tribute. (Genesis 49:14-15)
symbolized by the donkey carrying two burdens, bearing their own
burden and the burden of others.
Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)
They are said to
be carrying the burden of Torah. They have hid the Word of God in
their hearts so that they will not sinned against Him; and they have
also carried the Word of God in their hearts so that they will be
wise and know what to do in every circumstance.
knows today, the donkey is a dumb animal. Sometimes, we would not
even dare to utter the King James name for "donkey," a more
degrading word "ass."
However, in the
Bible, it seems that the donkey was actually a very special animal -
evidently Issachar didn't become offended when his father, in his
deathbed speech, likened him to one. In fact, according to Isaiah
1:3, the donkey was smarter than Israel - "the donkey knows his
owner's manger" but the people don't know their Lord.
The donkey is
frequently seen in pictures of the holy family during their travels
to Bethlehem and Egypt. The ass and the ox are painted in scenes of
the stable at Bethlehem to show that although humans did not
recognize their king, these, the least of God's creatures worshiped
Him at His birth.
this scene when he writes, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken: 'I have nourished and brought up children,
and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the
donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not
consider.'" (Isaiah 1:2-3) Some people believe the donkey in the
manger represents the Gentiles, while the ox stands for the Jews.
One of the great stories in
the Bible is when a donkey was used by God to speak to the prophet
Balaam. (Numbers 22:21-34) In another record, by just one donkey
bone used by Samson as a weapon, he destroyed 1,000 enemy soldiers.
(Judges 15:15, 16)
Laws were instituted by Moses
to give special consideration to the donkey. It may surprise you to
find out that, just like humans, donkeys were to be redeemed by the
sacrifice of a lamb. "Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but
if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn
among your sons." (Exodus 13:13)
Donkeys are right up there
with other valuable possessions not to be the object of
covetousness. "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt
not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his
maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy
neighbor's." (Exodus 20:17)
Donkeys were also covered by
the Sabbath law. "Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do
not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave
born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed."
Donkeys were to be looked
after by neighbors (Exodus 21:33; Exodus 23:4,5). Jesus even makes
mention of this when answering the critics who accused Him of
breaking the law by healing a woman on the Sabbath: "You hypocrites!
Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the
stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman,
a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long
years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" ( Luke
Notice also that
some of the great events of the Bible, took place in the presence of
The donkey was there when
Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:3).
The donkey was part of the
pilgrimage made by the brothers of Joseph to request food from Egypt
A donkey was with Moses and
his small family during their trip back to Egypt to deliver the
people from bondage (Exodus 4:20).
Donkeys witnessed the collapse
of Jericho's walls (Joshua 6:21).
But the greatest
story of all, is the one when Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem
on a donkey. Why did he call for a donkey? He was the "King of King
and Lord of Lords", didn't he deserve the best? Didn't He deserve
royal treatment? Yes, but Jesus rather chose to identify with the
Horses may be
for those who take pride in their positions, Jesus, on the contrary,
took pride in being a servant. The Messiah riding upon a donkey
offers forgiveness and peace with God, whereas Christ mounted upon a
horse implies judgment and war.
"As they approached Jerusalem
and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two
disciples, saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and at
once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie
them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him
that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.'
This took place to fulfill
what was spoken through the prophet (Zechariah 9:9): 'Say to the
Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on
a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"
The lowly donkey
had the greatest privilege of all - to bear on his back the Son of
God. Yes, he will carry the Lord instead of the Lord carrying him.
Why was the donkey so honored? Of course, because he was available,
but also because the donkey was a picture of humility, and the
willingness to perform hard work.
embarrassed when his father Jacob likened him and his descendants to
donkeys. They would be distinguished for their ability and readiness
to work hard, even under the undesirable conditions of being under
oppression - they would be known for their quiet, patient, and
industrious habits - fit for, and inclined to labor.
Oh yes, if the
load became too heavy, with sacks weighing him down on both sides,
the donkey would have sense enough to sit down, and refuse to go on.
That too is a lesson for us to learn. But most important of all,
when we see Jesus coming into the city, and praise Him as the King,
let us also think kindly toward the donkey He rode upon, and seek to
be as ready to serve, and work hard for our Master, even while under
the oppression that this world often lays on us.
The lowly donkey
has been also used to represent Christ who, like the symbolic
donkey, was both meek and mild. The donkey carried the material
burdens of the poor, while Christ humbled Himself, and took on a
life of poverty, in order to carry the heavy burden of man's sins.
The donkey represents many of the characteristics of the
self-abasing Christ: patience, courage, gentleness, peace, and
rode upon a donkey during His infancy and during His triumphal entry
into Jerusalem, the donkey has been honored with the nickname
"Christopher" or "Christ-Bearer." During the early days of
Christianity, the teachers of the Gospel sometimes received the same
nickname as the donkey to show that they carried the burden of the
Torah, the teachings of Christ, and assumed His attitude of
humility, poverty, and patience. The desert fathers were represented
by the wild donkey whose hoof is invulnerable to the poison of the
various biting and stinging animals found there.
Moses' Prophecy To Issachar
Moses: And of Zebulun he said,
Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
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 33:18-19)
Issachar are joined in this Mosaic blessing to illustrate the
cooperation of brethren. Zebulun was the merchants symbolized by
ships while Issachar set up tents to study the Torah. One produced
material blessing while the other produced spiritual blessing. The
cooperation of themselves together set a great example for us all.
community has both financial and spiritual leadership. Calling
peoples to the mountain is calling upon all to worship the Lord at
God's appointed times on His holy mountain. There they were to offer
sacrifices of worship and to enjoy the feasts and the joys.
known for their study tents and keeping track of the sun and moon
calculations to announce God's appointed times. The abundance of the
seas and the treasures of the sand represent the material working
with the spiritual in balance.
Understanding The Times
fathered four sons: Tola, Puvah or Puah, Job or Jashub, and Shimron.
The sons of Issachar were not the same as the sons of Joseph.
Issachar and his sons went with their father Jacob to Egypt to
escape the famine (Gen. 46:13; Ex. 1:3; Num. 26:23-24; 1 Chr. 2:1;
The sons of
Issachar and their father were also being hit by the famine and they
had to follow the else of the Jacob family to Egypt to get food and
water. It was Joseph who prepared the storehouse in Egypt and not
Issachar! And Joseph was not a son of Issachar, he was Issachar's
younger brother. Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob.
death, Jacob described Issachar as "a strong donkey lying down
between two burdens" (Gen. 49:15). In other words, Jacob saw that
Issachar could be a strong fighter but that his love of comfort
could also cause him to settle for the easy way out.
The tribe of
Issachar, consisted of four clans, the descendants of Issachar's
four sons (Gen. 46:13; Num. 26:23-24; 1 Chr. 7:1). The territory
allotted to this tribe was bounded on the north by Zebulun and
Naphtali, on the south and west by Manasseh, and on the east by the
Jordan River (Josh. 19:17-23). Most of the fertile Valley of
Jezreel, or Esdraelon, fell within Issachar's territory. Its
fertile, flat plains were well suited for the raising of cattle. In
spite of its reputation for seeking comfort, the tribe did fight
bravely against Sisera (Judges 5:15).
a quiet and happy life for Issachar (Deut. 33:18). At the first
census, the tribe numbered 54,400 fighting men (Num. 1:28-29); at
the second census 64,300 (Num. 26:25). By David's time it numbered
87,000 (1 Chr. 7:5). Its leaders mentioned in the Bible were
Nethaneel (Num. 1:8; 2:8; 7:18; 10:15), and Paltiel (Num. 34:26),
the judge Tola (Judg. 10:1), King Baasha (1 Kin. 15:27), and Omri (1
with Jacob's blessing, the tribe of Issachar showed an unusual
insight into political situations. The tribe switched allegiance
from Saul to David (1 Chr. 12:32) - "men of Issachar, who understood
the times and knew what Israel should do-- 200 chiefs, with all
their relatives under their command". The sons of Issachar were
mighty men in David's army and because of their ability to
understand the times, all brethren heeded their command.
the times that God was seeking true worshippers that would worship
Him in spirit and in truth; and God was seeking a king that would
follow after His own heart and not one who did his own thing. They
chose to follow King David instead of King Saul even though David's
camp was a small minority at that time! They understood the times
that God's hand was no longer upon King Saul but was on King David.
They chose the tougher and narrow road instead of the broadway where
the majority was. They lived up to their name of being a strong
fighter and their love of comfort did not cause them to settle for
the easy way out.
tribe of Issachar was a member of the Northern Kingdom, its members
attended Hezekiah of Judah's Passover feast (2 Chr. 30:18-20). They
were true worshippers and seekers of God despite their circumstances
and status. "Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim,
Manasseh, ISSACHAR and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they
ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed
for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, PARDON EVERYONE WHO
SETS HIS HEART ON SEEKING GOD-- the LORD, the God of his fathers--
even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary. And
the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people."
In times like
ours, we must be like the sons of Issachar - understanding the
times! God is seeking true worshippers and seekers of His heart! God
is raising up a new army of priests, prophets and kings! Priests who
will minister to Him first before they minister to others. Prophets
who will hear what God is saying before becoming a voice of God.
Kings who will follow after God's own heart and not their own
In John 14:6,
Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes
to the Father except through me." We need to know the WAY, we need
to speak the TRUTH and we need to live the LIFE! We need to take God
and His Word seriously! It is now time for the sons of God to be
"I consider that our present
sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be
revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons
of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to
frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who
subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated
from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of
the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been
groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present
time." Romans 8:18-22 (NIV)