Who was Asher?

In the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, Asher was the eighth son of Jacob by Zilpah, Leah's handmaid (Gen. 30:13). "In my happiness the daughters will call me happy: and she called his name Asher" (happy.)

Asher had four sons and one daughter, the heads of families (Num. 26:44-47). 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.

The portion near Zidon, Dor, Accho, Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, Rehob, they never made themselves masters of (Judg. 1:31,32; Josh. 19:24-31; 17:10,11.). 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. Moses' blessing (Deut. 33:24,25) represents Asher "acceptable to his brethren"; but Keil, "favored among his brethren and dipping his feet in oil" (i.e. having a land flowing with oil: Job 29:6), "his shoes" (but Keil translates castle, min'al; Maurer, bolt, i.e. dwelling secured by bolt) "iron and brass" (abounding in these metals, which the Phoenicians manufactured).

Contented with the luxuries which nature and intercourse with the enterprising Phoenicians afforded (for already Zidon was "the great" or "the strong"), Asher shrank from jeopardizing life with Zebulun and Naphtali, against Sisera the Canaanite; Asher "abode on the sea shore in his breaches" (creeks) (Judg. 5:17,18). "As thy (lays so shall thy rest (dabeaka) be," Maurer and Keil; but Gesenius, "so shall thy death be" (Deut. 33:24,25).

Jacob (Gen. 49:20) prophesied: "out of Asher his bread shall be fat the fat that comes from him shall be his own bread, so fruitful shall be his soil and he shall yield royal dainties:" fulfilled when Solomon thence supplied King Hiram's household with wheat and oil (1 Kings 5:11).

Asher's self indulging inertness acted injuriously on his own people. Selfishness and faint heartedness in the Lord's cause became their own punishment. From being more numerous at mount Sinai than Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, in David's time they had become so few that Asher's name is omitted from the chief rulers (1 Chr. 27:16-22).

Asherites were among those who came to Jerusalem to Hezekiah's Passover (2 Chr. 30:11). Asher and Simeon are the only tribes W. of Jordan which produced no hero or judge. ANNA (see), daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, in the New Testament alone reflects honor on her tribe (Luke 2). 2. A boundary of Manasseh on the S. (Josh. 17:7.)

Eusebius places it on the road from Shechem to Bethshean or @Scythepills. Porter makes it now @Teyasir, three quarters of an hour from Tubas or Thebez. Tel um el Aschera (Van de Velde), Um Ajra; (Robinson and Knobel), an hour S. of Beisan.


IBSE, (in the public domain) with minor edits.