1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Issachar
ISSACHAR (a Hebrew name meaning apparently “there is a hire,” or “reward”), Jacob’s ninth “son,” his fifth by Leah; also the name of a tribe of Israel. Slightly differing explanations of the reference in the name are given in Gen. xxx. 16 (J) and v. 18 (E). The territory of the tribe (Joshua xix. 17-23) lay to the south of that allotted to Zebulun, Naphtali, Asher and Dan, and included the whole of the great plain of Esdraelon, and the hills to the east of it, the boundary in that direction extending from Tabor to the Jordan, apparently along the deep gorge of Wadi el Bīreh. In the rich territory of Issachar, traversed by the great commercial highway from the Mediterranean and Egypt to Bethshean and the Jordan, were several important towns which remained in the hands of the Canaanites for some time (Judges i. 27), separating the tribe from Manasseh. Although Issachar is mentioned as having taken some part in the war of freedom under Deborah (Judges v. 15), it is impossible to misunderstand the reference to its tributary condition in the blessing of Jacob (Gen. xlix. 14 seq.), or the fact that the name of this tribe is omitted from the list given in Judges i. of those who bestirred themselves against the earlier inhabitants of the country. In the “blessing upon Zebulun and Issachar” in Deut. xxxiii. 18 seq., reference is made to its agricultural life in terms suggesting that along with its younger, but more successful “brother,” it was the guardian of a sacred mountain (Carmel, Tabor?) visited periodically for sacrificial feasts.
- On the origin of the name, see the article by H. W. Hogg, Ency. Bib. col. 2290; E. Meyer, Israeliten, p. 536 seq.