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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Twelve Tribes of Israel - Asher

Means “happy, blessed, prosperous”.

Eighth son of Jacob by Zilpah, Leah's handmaid. Genesis 30:13, “In my happiness the daughters will call me happy: and she called his name Asher". Asher had four sons and one daughter:
Numbers 26:44-47
Of the sons of Asher according to their families: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites; of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites; of Beriah, the family of the Berites.
Of the sons of Beriah: of Heber, the family of the Heberites; of Malchiel, the family of the Malchielites.

And the name of the daughter of Asher was Serah.

The tribe of Asher is represented by an Olive Tree.

These are the families of the sons of Asher by their numbered ones, fifty-three thousand, four hundred.

At the Exodus they numbered 41,500; at the close of the forty years in the wilderness 53,400. Their allotment was the rich sea coast between Carmel and Lebanon, N. of Manasseh, N.W. of Zebulun and Issachar, and S.W. of Naphtali. It contained some of the richest soil in Palestine, noted especially for the abundance and richness of its olive-oil. It was a region with comparatively low temperature, and much rainfall. The southern boundary was a stream S. of Dor (Tantura) flowing into the Mediterranean, Nahr el Defneh or Nahr Zurka. Their land included the maritime portion of the plain of Esdraelon.

His position brought him into touch with the Phoenicians who were already world-famous in trade and commerce. He probably soon became a partner in their profitable enterprises, and lost any desire he may ever have had to eject them from their cities. Asher “sat still at the haven of the sea, and abode by his creeks” (Judges 1: 31, 5: 17). On account of the remoteness from the centers of the Jewish national life, and its ease of communication with the Phoenicians, and the ease with which Asher could support itself, the tribe speedily became dissociated from the rest of Israel.

In the blessing of Jacob: “His bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties” (Genesis 49:20) and in the blessing of Moses: “Blessed be Asher with children; let him be acceptable unto his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil” (Deuteronomy 33:24), i.e. let his land be rich enough to be considered flowing with oil, the fruits of his land make him fat and let him be secure.

The place of Asher in the desert march was with the standard of the camp of Dan, on the north of the tabernacle, along with Dan and Naphtali; the prince of the tribe being Pagiel the son of Ochran. Among the spies Asher was represented by Sethur.
The tribe seems to have taken no important part in the subsequent history. It raised no hero, and gave no deliverer to the nation. In the time of David it was of so little consequence that the name is not found in the list of chief rulers (I Chronicles 27: 16). Ish-Bosheth was made king over certain tribes of the Israelites including the Ashurites (II Samuel 2:9).

Anna, the prophetess, was of this tribe, see Luke 2:36.

King Hezekiah made an appeal to the tribes to gather in Jerusalem for national repentance and to begin celebrating Passover again, “However, men from Asher and Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” (II Chronicles 30:11)

In Deuteronomy 27, Moses arranging the tribes on two opposing ridges so they could hear him as he spoke and they replied in agreement.

Mt. Gerizim

Looking from Mt. Gerizim towards Mt. Ebal

Modern photo of Mt Gerizim (left) and Mt. Ebal (right) with the city of Shechem (Nablus) between them.

Deuteronomy 27
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you today.
And it will be, on the day when you shall pass over Jordan to the land which Jehovah your God gives you, you shall set up great stones and plaster them with plaster.
And you shall write on them all the words of the Law when you have passed over, so that you may go in to the land which Jehovah your God gives you, a land that flows with milk and honey, as Jehovah, the God of your fathers, has promised you.
Therefore it shall be when you have gone over Jordan, you shall set up these stones which I command you today, in Mount Ebal. And you shall plaster them with plaster.
And you shall build an altar there to Jehovah your God, an altar of stones. You shall not lift up any iron tool on them.
You shall build the altar of Jehovah your God of uncut stones, and you shall offer burnt offerings on it to Jehovah your God.
And you shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before Jehovah your God.
And you shall write all the words of this Law very plainly on the stones.
And Moses and the priests the Levites spoke to all Israel, saying: Take heed and listen, O Israel. Today you have become the people of Jehovah your God.
You shall therefore obey the voice of Jehovah your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.
And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,
These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people when you have come over Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin.
And these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
And the Levites shall speak and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
Cursed is the man that makes any graven or molten image, an abomination to Jehovah, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and puts it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
Cursed is he who thinks lightly of his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who removes his neighbor's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who makes the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who perverts the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who lies with his father's wife, because he uncovers his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who lies with any kind of animal. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who takes reward to kill an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Cursed is he who does not confirm all the words of this Law, to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Those long, rocky ridges lay in the province of Samaria, and the peaks referred to were near Shechem (Nablous), rising in steep precipices to the height of about eight hundred feet and separated by a green, well-watered valley of about five hundred yards wide. The people of Israel were here divided into two parts. Some tribes were on one ridge and the other tribes were on the other ridge. They could easily see. This was a solemn ceremony and Moses was making sure all could see, hear, agree with and remember it with seriousness. This place was a natural theatre. The priests standing round the ark in the valley below, said aloud, looking to Gerizim, “Blessed is the man that maketh not any graven image,” when the people ranged on that hill responded in full simultaneous shouts of “Amen”; then turning round to Ebal, they cried, “Cursed is the man that maketh any graven image”; to which those that covered the ridge answered, “Amen.” This was done for all the blessings and curses (see Joshua 8: 33-34).

The six tribes appointed for blessing, were all children of the free women (Leah and Rachel), for to such the promise belongs. Galatians 4:31, “For, brothers, we are not children of a slave woman, but of the free woman”. They were the descendants of Rachel and Leah, the two principal wives of Jacob, and to them was assigned the most pleasant and honorable office of pronouncing the blessing. It was natural that the utterance of the blessing should be assigned to the tribes which sprang from Jacob's proper wives, since the sons of the wives occupied a higher position than the sons of the maids. The posterity of the two secondary wives, Zilpah and Bilhah, with those of Reuben, who had lost the primogeniture, and Zebulun, Leah’s youngest son (necessary in order to equally divide the tribes between the two ridges); to them was committed the painful duty of pronouncing the curses. It was important to declare the blessings and the curses so that none is unaware. They had to say, “Amen” after each curse to ensure that all heard and understood. They knew, understood and agreed with God that the curses were justified. Without the atoning blood of Christ, sinners can never have communion with a holy God, nor do anything acceptable to him; his righteous law condemns every one of us because of our sin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am doing a Power point presentation for my church. We are studying our Hebrew roots. Each minister was assigned a tribe to study & teach about...mine is Asher. I am utterly fascinated with the history of our ancient forefathers! Blessings to ya..this was so cool to run into your site/blog.
Blessing of Yahweh our Elohim

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