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Issachar [Ĭs’sakar]—there is here or reward.

1. The ninth son of Jacob and the fifth by Leah. Of Issachar as an individual not a word is recorded after his birth (Gen. 30:18; 49:14, 15; Deut. 33:18, 19).

The Man Who Couched Down

The birth of Issachar was regarded by his mother as a kind of payment from the hand of God, “God hath given me my hire,” said Leah, “because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar” (that is, hire). In Jacob’s blessing to Issachar, he is described as a “strong ass couching down between two burdens,” or “between the sheep-folds.” Two things are here mentioned as a pair, meaning they belong to each other; they are on either hand of Issachar, as necessary accompaniments to each other and to him. Between them his lot is cast.

When Israel was at war against Jabin, king of Canaan (Judg. 4), Reuben was at ease among the sheepfolds (Judg. 5:16), but the princes of Issachar fought valiantly, jeopardizing their lives unto death (Judg. 5:18). Then it is said that the children of Issachar had an understanding of the times and knew what Israel ought to do.

The strong-boned ass used with the cart, because of its capacity for bearing heavy burdens, was the apt figure used by Jacob to represent Issachar’s great strength, a strength revealed on the field of battle. The love of ease, however, made the people of Issachar unwilling to use their strength at all times in the interests of their country. They couched down in luxury and the restfulness of a rural life. The tragedy overtaking many is their couching down when they ought to be rising up. Their prosperity induces indolence, and like the rich fool in the parable, they take their ease (Luke 12:19). The voice from heaven still cries, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1).

2. A Levite doorkeeper of the Tabernacle in David’s time (1 Chron. 26:5).

Devotional content drawn from All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Used with permission.

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