Tribe of Issachar

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According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Issachar (Hebrew: יִשָּׂשכָר, Modern Yissakhar, Tiberian Yiśśâḵār) was one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

In the biblical narrative, following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes. The territory which it was allocated was immediately north of (the western half of) Manasseh, and south of Zebulun and Naphtali, stretching from the Jordan River in the east, to the coast in the west; this region included the fertile Esdraelon plain (see Joshua 19:17–23).

However, the scholarly consensus is that the book of Joshua is not a reliable source of historical information and that the sort of conquest it describes did not occur.[1][2][3]


Traditionally, Issachar was seen as being dominated by religious scholars;[4] there is said by some to be an allusion to this in the Book of Chronicles[4]...from Issachar, men who understood the times, and knew what Israel ought to do ...[5]—and if this is indeed an allusion to the tradition, then it would imply that the tradition was in existence by the time that the Book of Chronicles was compiled. In the Midrash, it is said that Issachar were the most influential in proselytism,[4] and that Jewish religious scholars were either from the tribe of Levi or that of Issachar.[6] Additionally, the Midrash argues that Issachar's description in the Blessing of JacobIssachar is a strong ass lying down between the sheepfolds: and he saw that settled life was good, and the land was pleasant; he put his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave under forced labour[7]—is a reference to the religious scholarship of the tribe of Issachar, rather than simply to a more literal interpretation of Issachar's name.[4]

Since the tribe of Zebulun were traditionally seen as merchants and Issachar as religious teachers, Issachar and Zebulun were considered to have a symbiotic relationship, whereby Issachar would devote its time to the study and teaching of Torah, while Zebulun would provide the financial support, in exchange for a share of Issachar's spiritual reward .[8] Such was the tradition of this symbiosis, that anyone engaged in such a partnership became termed Issachar and Zebulun respectively, even into modern times.


  1. ^ “Besides the rejection of the Albrightian ‘conquest' model, the general consensus among OT scholars is that the Book of Joshua has no value in the historical reconstruction. They see the book as an ideological retrojection from a later period — either as early as the reign of Josiah or as late as the Hasmonean period.” K. Lawson Younger, Jr. (1 October 2004). "Early Israel in Recent Biblical Scholarship". In David W. Baker; Bill T. Arnold. The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches. Baker Academic. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8010-2871-7. 
  2. ^ ”It behooves us to ask, in spite of the fact that the overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship is that Joshua is a pious fiction composed by the deuteronomistic school, how does and how has the Jewish community dealt with these foundational narratives, saturated as they are with acts of violence against others?” Carl S. Ehrlich (1999). "Joshua, Judaism and Genocide". Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, Volume 1: Biblical, Rabbinical, and Medieval Studies. BRILL. p. 117. ISBN 90-04-11554-4. 
  3. ^ ”Recent decades, for example, have seen a remarkable reevaluation of evidence concerning the conquest of the land of Canaan by Joshua. As more sites have been excavated, there has been a growing consensus that the main story of Joshua, that of a speedy and complete conquest (e.g. Josh. 11.23: 'Thus Joshua conquered the whole country, just as the LORD had promised Moses') is contradicted by the archaeological record, though there are indications of some destruction and conquest at the appropriate time.Adele Berlin; Marc Zvi Brettler (17 October 2014). The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition. Oxford University Press. p. 951. ISBN 978-0-19-939387-9. 
  4. ^ a b c d Jewish Encyclopedia
  5. ^ 1 Chronicles 12:32
  6. ^ Yoma 26a
  7. ^ Genesis 49:14–15
  8. ^ Dr. J.H. Hertz (former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain), commentary on Deuteronomy 33:18–19, in The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, J.H. Hertz, ed., second edition, London, Soncino Press, 1975