References: Genesis 30:9, 35:26, 49:20; Deuteronomy 27:13-26, 33:24; Joshua 19:24-31; Judges 1:31-32, 5:17, 6:35.
BackStory: Jacob was living with his two wives (Leah and Rachel) in Paddan Aram. Asher’s mother was Zilpah, a handmaiden of Leah. When Leah stopped conceiving children, she gave Zilpah to Jacob to conceive children on behalf of Leah. Asher was the 8th son of Jacob and the younger of two sons that Zilpah bore Jacob. Gad was the older brother of Asher. When Asher was born, Leah named him. Asher means “happy/blessing.”
Classic rabbinical literature claimed that Asher married twice; his first wife was a great granddaughter of Ishmael. Supposedly Asher sired four sons and a daughter and supposedly Asher informed his brothers that Reuben had sex with Bilhah, Rachel’s servant and Jacob’s concubine. When Jacob left Paddan Aram and settled in Canaan, Asher went with Jacob. Also, Asher accompanied Jacob when Jacob went to Egypt during the famine in Canaan.
Story Line: On Jacob’s deathbed he blessed Asher by saying “Asher’s food will be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies” (Genesis 49:20 ESV). Jacob’s blessing suggested that Asher’s descendants would be prosperous. Jacob’s prophecy came true. Asher was assigned land on the northern coast of Israel when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. This area was blessed with ample harbors and the Asherites harvested seafood.
After the Tabernacle was built at Mount Sinai, the Israelites were assigned a formation for travel with the Tabernacle in the center. Asher was on the north side of the traveling group. At the time there were 41,500 male offspring of Asher (Numbers 2:27).
When Moses died his blessing/prophecy to Asher was also positive: “Most blessed of Sons by Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil. Your bars shall be iron and bronze and as your days so shall your strength be (Deuteronomy 33:24-25).
Taken together Jacob and Moses’ blessings toward Asher were extremely favorable; however, Asher did not realize its potential.
Pondering Asher’s relationships: Asher did not always act in a way that would cause him to be a favorite of his brother-clans. Asher failed to drive out the Canaanites who lived in its assigned area; rather Asher lived among the Canaanites of the land (Judges 1:31-32). Asher refused the call of fellow Israelites to fight against King Jabin. Good news is that Asher joined with Gideon to repel the Midianites, Amelekites and other maundering tribes from the East. When the ten northern tribes seceded from the Israelite monarchy, Asher was one of the tribes that formed the Northern Kingdom, known as Israel. When the Assyrians dispelled the northern tribes, Asher was expelled throughout the Assyrian empire.
Reflection: We can be blessed with talents and live in a land with abundant resources; however, our actions influence out final outcome.
Copyright: February 19, 2018: Carolyn A. Roth
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