Is'sachar the name of two men in the Bible, and of the descendants of one of them, and the region inhabited by them.
1. The ninth son of Jacob and the fifth of Leah; the first born to Leah after the interval which occurred in the births of her children (Ge 30:17; comp. 29:35). He was born in Padan-Aram early in B.C. 1914. In Genesis he is not mentioned after his birth, and the few verses in Chronicles devoted to the tribe contain merely a brief list of its chief men and heroes in the reign of David (1Ch 7:1-5). At the descent into Egypt four sons are ascribed to him, who founded the four chief families of the tribe (Ge 46:13; Nu 20:23,25; 1Ch 7:1).
Form and Signification of the Name. — Both are peculiar. The form is יששכר [i.e. Yissaskar'; if pointed as would be regular, ישִּׂשׂכִּר: such is the invariable spelling of the name in the Hebrew, the Samaritan Codex and Version, the Targums of Onkelos and PseudoJonathan, but the Masoretes have pointed it so as to supersede the second S, יַשָּׂשכָר, Yissa[s]kar'; Sept. Ι᾿σσάχαρ, N.T. Ι᾿σασχάρ, Josephus Ισσάχαρις (Ant. 5, 1, 22), referring to the tribal territory; Vulg. Isachar. (See Gesenius, Thes. Heb. p. 1331.)
As is the case with each of the sons of Jacob, the name is recorded as bestowed on account of a circumstance connected with the birth. But, as may be also noticed in more than one of the others, two explanations seem to be combined in the narrative, which even then is not in exact accordance with the requirements of the name. "God hath given me my hire (שָׂכָר, sakbr). and she called his name Issachar," is the recoid; but in verse 18 that "hire" is for the surrender of her maid to her husband, while in verse 14-17 it is for the discovery and bestowal of the mandrakes. Besides, as indicated above, the name in its original form-Isaskar-rebels against this interpretation, an interpretation which, to be consistent, requires the form subsequently imposed on the word, Is-sachar. The verbal allusion is not again brought forward, as it is with Dan, Asher, etc., in the blessings of Jacob and Moses. In the former only it is perhaps allowable to discern a faint echo of the sound of "Issachar" in the word shikmo "his shoulder" (Ge 49:15). The words occur again almost identically in 2Ch 15:7, and Jer 31:16: יֵשׁ שָׂכָר = "there is a reward for;" A.V. "shall be rewarded." An expansion of the story of the mandrakes, with curious details, will be found in the Testamentum suachar (Fabricius, Cod. Pseudepigr. p. 620-623). They were ultimately deposited "in the house of the Lord" (according to the same legend), whatever that may mean. Tribe of Issachar. Issachar's place during the journey to Canaan was on the east of the tabernacle, with his brothers Judah and Zebulun (Nu 2:5), the group moving foremost in the march (Nu 10:15), and having a common standard, which, according to the Rabbinical tradition, was of the three colors of sardine, topaz, and carbuncle, inscribed with the names of the three tribes, and bearing the figure of a lion's whelp (see Targum Pseudo-Jon. on Nu 2:3). At this time the captain of the tribe was Nethaneel ben-Zuar (Nu 1:8; Nu 2:5; Nu 7:18; Nu 10:15). He was succeeded by Igal ben-Joseph, who went as representative of his tribe among the spies (Nu 13:7), and he again by Paltiel ben-Azzan, who assisted Joshua in apportioning the land of Canaan (Nu 34:26). Issachar was one of the six tribes who were to stand on Mount Gerizim during the ceremony of blessing and cursing (De 27:12). He was still in company with Judah, Zebulun being opposite on Ebal. 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, and after the mortality at Peor they amounted to 64,300, being inferior to none but Judah and Dan-to the latter by 100 souls only. The numbers given in 1Ch 7:2,4-5, probably the census of Joab, amount in all to 145,600.
The Promised Land once reached, the connection between Issachar and Judah seems to have closed, to be renewed only on two brief occasions, which will be noticed in their turn. The intimate relation with Zebulun was, however, maintained. The two brother-tribes had their portions close together, and more than once they are mentioned in company. The allotment of Issachar lay above that of Manasseh. The specification of its boundaries and contents is contained in Jos 19:17-23. But to the towns there named must be added Daberath (a Levitical city, 21:28: Jarmuth here is probably the Remeth of 19:21) and Ibleam (Jos 17:11). The boundary, in the words of Josephus (Ant. 5, 22), "extended in length from Carmel to the Jordan, in breadth to Mount Tabor." In fact, it almost exactly consisted of the plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel. The southern boundary we can trace by En-gannim, the modern Jenin, on the heights which form the southern enclosure to the plain; and then further westward by Taanach and Megiddo, the authentic fragments of which still stand on the same heights as they trend away to the hump of Carmel. On the north the territory nearly ceased with the plain, which is there bounded by Tabor, the outpost of the hills of Zebulun. East of Tabor, the hill-country continued so as to screen the tribe from the Sea of Galilee, while a detour on the S.E. included a part of the plain within the territory of Manasseh, near Bethshean and the upper part of the Jordan valley. In a central recess of the plain stood Jezreel, on a low swell, attended, just across the border, on the one hand by the eminence of Mount Gilboa. and on the other by that now called Ed-Duhy, or "Little Hermon," the latter having Shunem, Nain, and Endor on its slopes-names which recall some of the most interesting and important events in the history of Israel. SEE TRIBE.
The following is a list of all the Biblical localities in the tribe, with their approved or conjectural identifications:
Abez Town Ukneifis? Anaharath do. [Meskatah]?? Anem do See EN-GANNIM Aphek do. [El-Fuleh]? Beth-gan do. See EN-GANNIM Beth-pazzez do. [Beit-Jenu]?? Beth-shemesh do Kaukab-el-Hawa?
Chesulloth or Chisloth Tabor do Iksal Dabareh or Daberath do Debureh En-gannim do Jenin En-haddah do [Ain Mahil]? Gur Ascent [Mukeibileh]? Hapharaim Town [El-Afuleh]? Ibleam do [Jelameh]? Ittah-kazin do [Kefr Kenna]? Jarmuth do See RAAMOTH Jezreel Town Zerin Plain Merj Ibn-Amer. Fountain Ain Meyiteh Jokmeam or Jokneam Town El-Kaimon Kedesh do Kashaneh? Kibzaim do See JOKNEAM Kishion do See KEDESH Maralah do [Mujeidil]? Meroz do Kefr Musr? Nain do Nein Nazareth do En-Nasirah Rabbith do [Sunurieh]? Ramoth or Remeth do [Tell between Sundeoa and Mukeibileh]? Shahazimah do [Shara]? Shihon do [Esh-Shijrah]? Shunem do Solam
This territory was, as it still is, among the richest land in Palestine. Westward was the famous plain which derived its name, the "seed-plot of God"-such is the signification of Jezreel-from its fertility, and the very weeds of which at this day testify to its enormous powers of production (Stanley S. and P. p. 348). SEE ESDRAELON; SEE JEZREEL. On the north is Tabor, which, even under the burning sun of that climate, is said to retain the glades and dells of an English wood (ibid. p. 350). On the east, behind Jezreel, is the opening which conducts to the plain of the Jordan-to that Beth-Shean which was proverbially among the Rabbis the gate of Paradise for its fruitfulness. It is this aspect of the territory of Issachar which appears to be alluded to in the blessing of Jacob. The image of the "sturdy he-ass" (חֲמֹר גֶּרֶם) —-the large animal used for burdens and field- work, not the lighter and swifter she-ass for riding " couching down between the two stalls," chewing the fodder of stolid ease and quiet-is very applicable, not only to the tendencies and habits, but to the very size and air of a rural agrarian people, while the sequel of the verse is no less suggestive of the certain result of such tendencies when unrelieved by any higher aspirations: "He saw that rest was good and the land pleasant, and he bowed his back to bear, and became a slave to tribute" — the tribute imposed on him by the various marauding tribes who were attracted to his territory by the richness of the crops. The blessing of Moses completes the picture. He is not only "in tents"-in nomad or semi-nomad life-but "rejoicing" in them; and it is perhaps not straining a point to observe that he has by this time begun to lose his individuality. He and Zebulum are mentioned together as having part possession in the holy mountain of Tabor, which was near the frontier line of each (De 33:18-19). We pass from this to the time of Deborah: the chief struggle in the great, victory over Sisera took place on the territory of Issachar, "by Taanach at the waters of Megiddo" (Jg 5; Jg 19); but the allusion to the tribe in the song of triumph is of the most cursory nature, not consistent with its having taken any prominent part in the action.
One among the judges of Israel was from Issachar Tola (Jg 10:1) —but beyond the length of his sway we have only the fact recorded that he resided out of the limits of his own tribe — at Shamir, in Mount Ephraim. By Josephus he is omitted entirely (see Ant. 5, 7, 6). The census of the tribe taken in the reign of David has already been alluded to. It is contained in 1Ch 7:1-5, and an expression occurs in it which testifies to the nomadic tendencies above noticed. Out of the whole number of the tribe no less than 36,000 were marauding mercenary troops-" bands" (גּדוּדַים) —-a term applied to no other tribe in this enumeration, though elsewhere to Gad, and uniformly to the irregular bodies of the Bedouin nations round Israel. This-was probably at the close of David's reign. Thirty years before, when two hundred of the head men of the tribe had gone to Hebron to assist in making David king over the entire realm, different qualifications are noted in them-they "had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do and all their brethren were at their commandment." To what this "understanding of the times" was we have no clew (see Deyling, Observ. 1, 160 sq.). By the later Jewish interpreters it is explained as skill in ascertaining the periods of the sun and moon, the intercalation of months, and dates of solemn feasts, and the interpretation of the signs of the heavens (Targum, ad loc.; Jerome, Quaest. Heb.). Josephus (Ant. 7:2, 2) gives it as "knowing the things that were to happen;" and he adds that the armed men who came with these leaders were 20,000. One of the wise men of Issachar, according to an old Jewish tradition preserved by Jerome (Quaest. Heb. on 2Ch 17:16), was Amasiah, son of Zichri, who, with 200,000 men, offered himself to Jehovah in the service of Jehoshaphat (2Ch 17:16); but this is very questionable, as the movement appears to have been confined to Judah and Benjamin. The ruler of the tribe at this time was Omri, of the great family of Michael (1Ch 27:18; compare 7:3). May he not have been the forefather of the king of Israel of the same name the founder of the "house of Omri" and of the "house of Ahab," the builder of Samaria, possibly on the same hill of Shamir on which the Issacharite judge, Tola, had formerly held his court? But, whether this was so or not, at any rate one dynasty of the Israelitish kings was Issacharite. Baasha, the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, a member of the army with which Nadab and all Israel were besieging Gibbethon, apparently not of any standing in the tribe (compare 1Ki 16:2), slew the king, and himself mounted the throne (1Ki 15:27, etc.). He was evidently a fierce and warlike man (16:29; 1Ch 16:1), and an idolater like Jeroboam. The Issacharite dynasty lasted during the twenty-four years of his reign and the two of his son Elah. At the end of that time it was wrested from him by the same means that his father had acquired it, and Zimri, the new king, commenced his reign by a massacre of the whole kindred and connections of Baasha-he left him "not even so much as a boy" (16:11).
Distant as Jezreel was from Jerusalem, the inhabitants took part in the Passover with which. Hezekiah sanctified the opening of his reign. On that memorable occasion a multitude of the people from the northern tribes, and among them from Issachar, although so long estranged from the worship of Jehovah as to have forgotten how to make the necessary purifications, yet by the enlightened piety of Hezekiah were allowed to keep the feast; and they did keep it seven days with great gladness-with such tumultuous joy as had not been known since the time of Solomon, when the whole land was one. Nor did they separate till the occasion had been signalized by an immense destruction of idolatrous altars and symbols, "in Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim and Manasseh," up to the very confines of Issachar's own land — and then "all the children of Israel returned every man to his possession into their own cities" (2Ch 31:1). Within five years from this date Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, had invaded the north of Palestine, and after three years' siege had taken Samaria, and, with the rest of Israel, 'had carried,' Issachar away to his distant dominions. The only other scriptural allusion to the tribe is that, with the rest of their brethren of all the tribes of the children of Israel (Dan only excepted), the twelve thousand of the tribe of Issachar shall be sealed in their foreheads (Re 7:7).
2. A Korhite Levite, one of the door-keepers (A.V. "porters") of the house of Jehovah, seventh son of Obed-Edom (1Ch 26:5). B.C. 1014.