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The Israelite Patriarchs - Asher

Asher, or Aser, from the Hebrew name pronounced aw-share means happy. Asher was the 8th-born son of Jacob / Israel, the second son of Zilpah, the handmaid of Jacob's wife Leah (Jacob had 2 wives and 2 concubines, who together created a family of 12 sons and 1 daughter of Jacob). Asher was born in Padan Aram in the time that Jacob lived with his uncle Laban (see Jacob and Laban), the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's mother (Jacob's 2 wives were the daughters of Laban i.e Jacob's first cousins). Asher died in Egypt during the four centuries that the Israelites spent there (see also Where Are The Israelite Patriarchs Buried?). Asher is the patriarch of the Israelite tribe of Asher.

"Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil"

Although Asher's mother was actually Leah's servant Zilpah, it was Leah who gave Asher the name "happy" because of her happiness at having more children that she could call her own (i.e. see Genesis 30:9-13):

Israelite Tribal Lands

"And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son. And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher." (Genesis 30:12-13 KJV)

Asher was the 8th born son of Jacob (Jacob also had a daughter, Dinah; see also Children of Jacob).

"Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:"

"The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:"

"The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:"

"And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:"

"And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram." (Genesis 35:23-26 KJV)

Asher himself had 4 sons, Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah and a daughter, Serah (also spelled Sarah):

"And the sons of Asher; Jimnah, and Ishuah, and Isui, and Beriah, and Serah their sister" (Genesis 46:17 KJV)

Asher was one of the 70 Israelites who entered Egypt:

"Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt [see Potiphar] already" (Exodus 1:1-5 KJV)

By the time of the Exodus 400 years later, the descendants of Asher alone had grown to over 53,000 people:

"Of the children of Asher after their families: of Jimna, the family of the Jimnites: of Jesui, the family of the Jesuites: of Beriah, the family of the Beriites. 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 Sarah. These are the families of the sons of Asher according to those that were numbered of them; who were fifty and three thousand and four hundred." (Numbers 26:44-47 KJV)

The farewell blessings given by Jacob / Israel and Moses about Asher were somewhat similar.

"And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father ... Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties" (Gensis 49:1-2,20 KJV)

"And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death ... And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:1,24-25 KJV)

Upon their entry into the Promised Land, the tribal territory for the descendants of Asher was in the north of Galilee (see the Tribal Lands map above):

"And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families. And their border was Helkath, and Hali, and Beten, and Achshaph, And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and to Shihorlibnath; And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand, And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon; And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib: Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families, these cities with their villages" (Joshua 19:24-31 KJV)

Whether it was just a coincidence or not, prior to their arrival in the Promised Land, the camp position of the people of Asher was also to the north (see the diagram below):

"And The Lord [see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD] spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch." (Numbers 2:1-2 KJV)

"The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. And those that encamp by him shall be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred. Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred. All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards" (Numbers 2:25-31 KJV)

Order of The Israelite Camp

Although the people of Israel had taken control of their physical Promised Land, other people remained and were a source of trouble, just as they still are today:

"And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out ... Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out." (Judges 1:28,31-32 KJV)

Men of Asher were among those who supported Gideon in the war with the Midianites:

"And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites." (Judges 7:23 KJV)

The people of Asher were among some of the tribes who sought to become faithful to The Lord after years of neglect and corruption (a fatal mistake that the people of Israel made over and over again throughout their history):

"And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of The Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto The Lord God of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month ... So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of The Lord. And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great congregation. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of The Lord." (2 Chronicles 30:1-2,10-15 KJV)

With very few exceptions (see the Fact Finder question below for how a small number of their descendants were in Jerusalem at the time of Christ) most of the people of Asher were taken into exile by the Assyrians, as a punishment for their corruption, again, at the time of The Galilee Captivity, thereafter becoming one of the "Lost Ten Tribes of Israel."

The prophecies of Ezekiel however include a yet-future time when the people of all of the tribes of Israel will be gathered (see The Gathering of Israel and Judah) and again given divisions of the Promised Land, just as they did in the time of Joshua.

"Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters [see Living Waters] issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side." (Ezekiel 47:1-2 KJV)

"Thus saith The Lord God; This shall be the border, whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions. And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another: concerning the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers: and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance." (Ezekiel 47:13-14) KJV)

"And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Asher." (Ezekiel 48:2 KJV)

"And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there" (Ezekiel 48:31-35 KJV)

Fact Finder: What very devout Christian lady of the New Testament was a descendant of the Israelite patriarch Asher (the King James Version uses "Aser," the Greek form of Asher, in the New Testament)?
Luke 2:36


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