|ash'-er (happiness, happy)
Jacob, Leah, Zilpah
Easton's Bible Dictionary
happy, Jacob's eighth son; his mother was Zilpah, Leah's
handmaid ( Genesis 30:13 ). Of the tribe founded by him nothing is recorded beyond
its holding a place in the list of the tribes ( Genesis 35:26 ; 46:17 ; Exodus
1:4 , etc.) It increased in numbers twenty-nine percent, during the thirty-eight
years' wanderings. The place of this tribe during the march through the desert
was between Dan and Naphtali ( Numbers 2:27 ). The boundaries of the inheritance
given to it, which contained some of the richest soil in Palestine, and the names
of its towns, are recorded in Joshua 19:24 - 31 ; Judges 1:31 , 1:32 . Asher and
Simeon were the only tribes west of the Jordan which furnished no hero or judge
for the nation. Anna the prophetess was of this tribe ( Luke 2:36 ).
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
Apocrypha and New Testament, Aser (blessed), The eighth
son of Jacob, by Zilpah, Leah's handmaid. ( Genesis 30:13 ) (B.C. 1753.) The general
position of his tribe was on the seashore from Carmel northward with Manasseh
on the south, Zebulun and Issachar on the southeast, and Naphtali on the north-east.
( Joshua 19:24 - 31 ; 17:10 , 17:11 ) and Judges 1:31 , 32 They possessed the
maritime portion of the rich plain of Esdraelon, probably for a distance of 8
or 10 miles from the shore. This territory contained some of the richest soil
in all Palestine.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ash'-er ('asher; Aser).
(1) The eighth son of Jacob
| 1. Biblical Account:
According to the Biblical account Asher was the eighth of Jacob's sons, the second
borne to him by Zilpah the handmaid of Leah. His uterine brother was Gad (Genesis
35:26). With four sons and one daughter he went down into Egypt (Genesis 46:17).
At his birth Leah exclaimed, "Happy am I! for the daughters will call me happy:
and she called his name Asher," i.e. Happy (Genesis 30:13). This foreshadowing
of good fortune for him is repeated in the blessing of Jacob: "His bread shall
be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties" (Genesis 49:20); and again in that
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). His family prospered in
Egypt, and at the Exodus the tribe of Asher is numbered at 41,500 adult males
(Numbers 1:41). At the second census the number is given 53,400 (Numbers 26:47).
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 Da and Naphtali; the prince of the
tribe being Pagiel the son of Ochran (Numbers 2:27). Among the spies Asher was
represented by Sethur (Numbers 13:13). 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 (1 Chronicles 27:16). The rich land assigned
to Asher sloped to the Phoenician seaboard, and 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 (Judges 1:31). He cared not who ruled
over him if he were free to pursue the ends of commerce. Zebulun might jeopard
their lives unto the death, and Naphtali upon the high places of the field, to
break the power of the foreign oppressor, but Asher "sat still at the haven of
the sea, and abode by his creeks" (Judges 5:17). He was probably soon largely
absorbed by the people with whose interests his were so closely identified: nevertheless
"divers of Asher," moved by the appeal of Hezekiah, "humbled themselves, and came
to Jerus" (2 Chronicles 30:11 the King James Version). To this tribe belonged
the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36).
2. Modern Theory:
According to a modern theory, the mention of the slave girl Zilpah as the mother
of Asher is meant to indicate that the tribe was of mixed blood, and arose through
the mingling of Israelites with the Canaanites. It is suggested that the name
may have been taken from that of the Canaanite clan found in the Tell el-Amarna
Letters, Mari abd-Ashirti, "sons of the servant of Asherah." A similar name occurs
in the inscriptions of the Egyptian Seti I (14th century BC), `Aseru, a state
in western Galilee (W. Max Muller, As. und Eur., 236-39). This people it is thought
may have associated themselves with the invaders from the wilderness. But while
the speculations are interesting, it is impossible to establish any relationship
between these ancient tribes and Asher.
3. Territory of Asher:
The boundaries of the territory are given in considerable detail in Joshua 19:25
(compare Judges 1:31 ; Joshua 17:10 f). Only a few of the places named can be
identified with certainty. Dor, the modern Tan-Turah, although occupied by Manasseh
belonged to Asher. Wady ez-Zerqa, possibly identical with Shihor-libnath, which
enters the sea to the South of Dor, would form the southern boundary. The lot
of Asher formed a strip of land from 8 to 10 miles wide running northward along
the shore to the neighborhood of Sidon, touching Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali
on the East Asher seems to have taken possession of the territory by a process
of peaceful penetration, not by conquest, and as we have seen, he never drove
out the Phoenicians from their cities. The rich plain of Acre, and the fertile
fiats between the mountain and the sea near Tyre and Sidon therefore remained
in Phoenician hands. But the valleys breaking down westward and opening on the
plains have always yielded fine crops of grain. Remains of an ancient oak forest
still stand to the North of Carmel. The vine, the fig, the lemon and the orange
flourish. Olive trees abound, and the supplies of olive oil which to this day
are exported from the district recall the word of the old-time blessing, "Let
him dip his foot in oil."
(2) A town on the southern border of Manasseh (Joshua 17:7). The site is unknown.
(3) A place of this name is mentioned in Apocrypha (Tobit 1:2), identified with
Hazor, in Naphtali. See HAZOR.
asher, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, eighth son of jacob, happy, hazor