Asher is often portrayed as a tribe in the 12 tribes of Israel, representing one of the 12 sons of Jacob. The descendants of Asher formed the tribe of Asher, which occupied a portion of the territory of Canaan, known for its fertile land and abundance of olive trees and
In the tapestry of biblical history, the twelve tribes of Israel hold a special place, each contributing a unique and significant thread to the narrative. Among these tribes, Asher, the eighth son of Jacob, plays a distinctive role. In this blog post, we will explore the story of Asher in the Bible, uncovering the blessings and legacy associated with this tribe.
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Where Does the Bible Mention Asher?
Moses mentioned Asher before his death. He went to Mount Nebo, where he was to die instead of entering the promised land. In Deuteronomy 32:51, the Lord tells him, “This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites.” Even though Moses wouldn’t be arriving at the Land of Canaan, the Israelites would. He blessed the twelve tribes before his death, including the sons of Asher.
About Asher, he said: “Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days. (Deuteronomy 33:24-25)
In the book of Joshua, the Israelites finally stepped foot into the promised land. With God by their side, they conquered the land promised to them. After many years of war and victory, Joshua grew older in years. In Joshua 13:1, the Lord says, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.” God told Joshua he would continue conquering the land, and then the land needed to be divided among the tribes of Israel. Asher was a tribe that received one of those lots.
The fifth lot went to the tribe of Asher, clan by clan . . . There were twenty-two towns and their villages. These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Asher, according to its clans. (Joshua 19:24; Joshua 19:30-31)
Asher is mentioned again in the book of Ezekiel. The tribes of Israel split after Solomon’s death. They were divided into northern and southern kingdoms. The regions to the north formed Israel, and the southern territories created Judah. The tribe of Asher’s land went to the northern portion.
Asher will have one portion; it will border the territory of Dan from east to west. (Ezekiel 48:2)
What Family Did Asher Belong to?
Asher wasn’t born into the healthiest of families. His parents lived in a tangled web of deception and jealousy. His father, Jacob, had fallen in love with a young woman named Rachel. Rachel’s father, Laban, promised Jacob her hand if he worked for the family for seven years. Jacob worked for seven years, but on his wedding night was tricked into sleeping with Rachel’s younger sister, Leah. Laban’s only excuse was that the younger sister was usually married off first. He promised Rachel’s hand if Jacob agreed to work another seven years for the family. Jacob agreed and was married to Rachel, and he loved her more than Leah.
God saw Leah was unloved by Jacob and enabled her to conceive children. Rachel, on the other hand, remained barren. In desperation, she gave Jacob her servant, Bilhah, to sleep with. Bilhah bore two sons, and Rachel felt like she won the son-bearing race against her sister. When Leah noticed she stopped having children, she gave Jacob her servant, Zilpah, as a wife. Zilpah bore Jacob two sons, the second being Asher.
When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife . . . Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. Then Leah said, “How happy I am! The women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher. (Genesis 30:9; 12-13)
Readers unfamiliar with Asher may know his remarkable brother, Joseph. Joseph was the youngest son born to Rachel and Jacob’s favorite son. Joseph’s favor was no secret, especially with the gift of an elaborate coat. His brothers grew jealous and sold him to a caravan of Ishmaelites, lying to their father and making up a story of his death. Joseph became Pharaoh’s right-hand man through a series of God-ordained events. A seven-year famine hit the land. Joseph’s brothers, including Asher, traveled to Egypt to buy corn. They are reunited with Joseph, who eventually reveals himself. He ensures his brothers he will take care of them and saves the very ones who betrayed him.
Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute. (Genesis 45:9-11)
The family, including the sons and daughter of Asher, filled wagons sent by Pharaoh to make the journey to Egypt. They were given the best land, and Joseph provided them with enough food to outlast the famine. After all that occurred, Joseph forgave his brothers and spent the rest of his days with them.
What Was the Tribe of Asher Known for?
When Jacob was ill and dying, he asked his sons to come near and prophesied over them. In Genesis 49:20, Jacob stated, “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king.” Asher’s tribe was to be a rich tribe, supplying not only the needs of the people but overflowing with delicacies. It wouldn’t need to rely on other nations for its crops. Instead, it would produce an abundance from its fruitful soil. The Tribe of Asher’s rich delicacies included the best wheat, wine, and an abundance of oil.
The Tribe of Asher is mentioned again in Deuteronomy when the Israelites are at Mount Ebal. Smith’s Bible Dictionary defines Mount Ebal as “a mount in the promised land, on which the Israelites were to “put” the curse which should fall upon them if they disobeyed the commandments of Jehovah.” Deuteronomy 27:13 mentions several tribes with this job, including the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.” The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary calls the task a “necessary but painful duty.”
God is always working. He used a family story that began with a deceitful marriage to produce one of the most known stories in the Bible, Joseph, and his rise to power in Egypt. Situations can seem grim. Life doesn’t work out the way we expected. We end up pushing through hard circumstances, like Jacob and the extra seven years he spent tolling for Rachel. Or we try to make things happen our way, like the two sisters who gave their servants as concubines to their husband in desperation for more children. Whatever the situation, God can continue to weave miraculously in our stories, and they can turn out better than we ever would have expected.
Asher in the Bible: A Tribe Blessed with Abundance
Asher, whose name means “happy” or “blessed,” was born to Jacob and Leah, the elder daughter of Laban. The name reflects the joy Leah felt upon Asher’s birth.
- Asher’s Birth: Asher’s birth is recorded in the book of Genesis (Genesis 30:12-13). Leah exclaims, “Happy am I! For women have called me happy,” upon his birth, giving him the name Asher.
- The Blessing of Asher: When Jacob was nearing the end of his life, he bestowed blessings upon his sons. In Genesis 49:20, Jacob blessed Asher, saying, “Bread from Asher shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties.” This blessing was interpreted as a promise of abundance and prosperity for the tribe of Asher.
- The Inheritance of Asher: When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, each tribe received its designated territory. Asher’s inheritance was a coastal region along the Mediterranean Sea, which included cities like Tyre and Sidon. This land was known for its fertility, aligning with the blessing of abundance that Asher received from Jacob.
- Asher in the Tribal Allotment: Asher was one of the twelve tribes that made up the northern kingdom of Israel after the division of the kingdom following Solomon’s reign. The tribe played a role in the historical and political events of the kingdom.
The tribe of Asher is often associated with a bountiful and prosperous land. Their territory was known for its fertile soil, conducive to agriculture and the cultivation of olive trees, which was a significant source of livelihood for the tribe. This abundance led to their participation in trade and commerce, as they had access to the coastal routes.
Who Is Asher?
Asher was the son of Jacob and Zilpah. He was the founder of the Tribe of Asher. Scripture tells that Leah felt that she could no longer conceive and give Jacob any more children. Leah made the decision to give her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob, so he would be able to have more children. What a choice! Was Leah heartbroken as she made that choice? Would she become jealous of any children Jacob and Zilpah conceived? How did Leah interact with the children Jacob had with another woman?
Scripture shares that later Leah became pregnant again. She thought her childbearing time was over, but God had other plans. Jacob had numerous children by Leah and Zilpah. Jacob was the father of sons, and also, a daughter named Dinah. Jacob and Zilpah had a son whom they named Gad. Asher was their second son. They named him Asher because Leah said the women would call her happy. (Genesis 30:13 NIV)
The name Asher means “happy” or “blessed.” Scripture doesn’t tell us if Asher was a pleasant child or a troublesome child. With his name meaning “happy”, he may have been an easy going child. Our names don’t always fit with our personalities. However, we do learn in the Bible that Asher was known for his wisdom. Before Jacob died, he gave blessings to each of his twelve sons, with varying meanings.
What Is Asher Known for in the Bible?
Among the many children of Jacob, there was one son named Joseph. He was Joseph’s favorite son. (Genesis 33:2 NIV). Joseph often helped shepherd the flocks with his brothers. There were twelve sons. Their names were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Dinah was the daughter.
The Bible tells that Moses said Asher would be the most blessed of the sons and favored by his brothers. (Deuteronomy 33:24-25 NIV). Yet, there was conflict between the brothers and Joseph. Joseph had made negative comments about his brothers. (Genesis 37:1-11 NIV) The statements caused friction and turmoil between the brothers. Have you had an argument with a sibling? Were you able to work things out in a positive way?
Jacob loved Joseph more than the other brothers. He made a long robe with sleeves and gave it to Joseph. When Asher and the other brothers saw that their father loved Joseph more, they were angry and jealous. The anger turned into a plot to have Joseph killed and throw him in a pit. Reuben told the brothers not to kill him, just throw Joseph in a pit. After Joseph was in the pit for a time, the brothers, including Asher and Judah, agreed to sell him to some Midianite tribles for twenty pieces of silver. The brothers did not tell their father of the plan or that Joseph was still alive.
Upon hearing news that Joseph had died, Jacob became distraught. Later in Scripture we learn that Joseph was not dead. Asher and the other brothers who had schemed to sell Joseph into slavery were shocked to learn that their brother was alive. They had met a handsome and successful man and didn’t realize the man was Joseph. The brothers had been sent to Egypt to buy grain. Think of the shock and embarrassment they may have felt upon learning the true identity of that man. Their own brother, whom they had tried to destroy, was now in a leadership role.
Joseph had his own plan to see his father once again. Through directions given by Joseph in Genesis 45:28, Jacob brought his whole family to Egypt. Imagine how Jacob must have felt learning that Joseph was alive. Surprise, shock, worry, and maybe some unbelief when he first was told that his son was alive. The family had already experienced mourning of the loss of the son.
What kind of feelings did Asher have during the plotting and carrying out of the plan the brothers have created? The plan to get rid of their brother Joseph was a cruel one. Before Jacob died, he blessed his sons. Jacob said Asher’s food would be rich and fit for a king. Later, Moses blessed Asher’s descendants. (Deuteronomy 33:24-25 NIV)
The story of Asher in the Bible is one of blessings and prosperity. From the moment of his birth to the blessings bestowed by his father Jacob, the tribe of Asher was marked by a legacy of abundance. Their territory in the Promised Land and their role in the northern kingdom of Israel reflect the fulfillment of the blessings they received. Asher’s story serves as a reminder of the intricate tapestry of blessings and destinies woven throughout the biblical narrative.