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Continuing our series on the Twelve Tribes of Israel, next we turn our attention to Asher.
Asher and the Tribe of Asher in the Bible
Asher was the eighth son; His mother was Zilpah, the maidservant of Leah and the full brother of Gad.
He was her second and last child with Jacob. When Asher was born, Leah said, “How happy am I! The women will call me happy”
Asher’s name is said to mean “happy, contentment, richness, affirmation.” (Hebrew: אָשֵׁר) The daughters of the Tribe of Asher had a good reputation and were sought after as wives by the Priests and Kings of Israel. (More on Asher’s daughter’s below).
Some biblical scholars opined that Asher liked luxury and good living even if it involved a good degree of waste. Asher is easy-going and agreeable, but his warriors were considered one of the pride or “jewels” of Israel.
Despite his affable temperament, Asher was not very certain of himself and tended to seek the affirmation of others. He was said to be honest and “upright.” He goes out of his way to obtain legal and communal affirmation for his actions. Asher needs to be re-assured. He was a follower, rather than one to initiate.
Asher was one of six tribes chosen to stand on Mount Ebal and pronounce curses.
Through these curses, the people of Israel promised God they would avoid poor behavior and treat others right.
Here is the scripture containing the list of all twelve “curses” or admonishments delivered by Asher.
Jacob’s Deathbed Blessing to Asher
As he did with all of his twelve sons, Jacob gave a blessing before his passing to Asher:
I believe (as do many biblical scholars) that this infers that Asher was, and would continue to be, a wealthy man. Jacob’s reference to Asher’s food being “rich” indicated that Asher would possess fertile lands. In Joshua 19:24-31, we learn that Asher received fertile land along the Mediterranean coast. (see below for the territory of the tribe of Asher)
Moses Blessing to Asher
Moses’ blessing to the Tribe of Asher similarly spoke of wealth and good fortune:
We know, from many recounts in the Bible, that the washing of one’s feet was a sign of prosperity and hospitality.
Despite all its blessings, the tribe of Asher failed to drive out the Canaanites, and “because of this the people of Asher lived among the Canaanite inhabitants of the land” (Judges 1:31-32).
In the time of Deborah and Barak,
He did not join the fight against Jabin, a Canaanite king. I feel this points to how Asher was not as much of a doer and more of a follower.
The Tribe of Asher’s failure to help their fellow tribes could indicate a lack of reliance on God, a lack of effort, a fear of the enemy, or a reluctance to upset those with whom they did business. Thus, the example set here is a negative one: although Asher was richly blessed, they did not behave admirably, at all times, and when the time for action came, he failed to trust in God and honor His plan.
Later in Judges, Asher does respond to Gideon’s call to repel the Midianites, Amalekites, and others from the East.
Later, Asher accepts Hezekiah’s invitation to the tribes from the Northern Kingdom to join the Passover celebration in Jerusalem. This was considered an act of humility, proof of a contrite heart before God. So, Asher does have his moments of a humble heart for God.
It’s a fairly long passage, but I think it’s important to read to understand how the tribes came together and humbled their hearts for the Lord.
In the end, we find that Asher received many great blessings from God. Having received a blessing, they were expected to obey the Lord’s commands. In this, they sometimes succeeded and sometimes failed.
We, too, have been blessed by God (Ephesians 1:3). The Lord expects us to obey His commands (John 14:15). Just as Asher received a prophetic blessing from Jacob, God’s children have received this promise: “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Praise the Lord for His wonderful plans for us. What a comfort!
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How Large Was the Tribe of Asher?
from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, – Revelation 7:6
The territory of Asher:
The boundaries of the territory are given in considerable detail in Joshua 19:25. Only a few of the places named can be identified with certainty. Dor, the modern Tan-Turah, although occupied by Manasseh, belonged to Asher.
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 stands 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 Moses’ blessing, “Let him dip his foot in oil.”
It is also interesting to note that Asher’s “most blessed children” seem to be daughters. In addition to his musical daughter Serah, the Midrash notes that Asher’s daughters were beautiful and married to high priests who were “anointed with olive oil.” Perhaps these daughters used lotions of olive oil, for, just as Jacob predicted, Asher settled into a fertile territory that was particularly bountiful with olive trees.
What We Can Learn From the Tribe of Asher in the Bible
1) We need to be all in for God, not just when we feel like it.
We need to be conscious and spend our time with our fellow body of believers and live a pleasing life to God.
Ultimately, the tribe of Asher failed to drive out the Canaanites. Although Asher was richly blessed, he and his tribe did not behave admirably and trust God when the time for action came, and instead let themselves be seduced and overtaken by a life of comfort.
2) Remember where your blessings come from and love others as He loves us.
Asher enjoyed the finer things in life – you may, too. Or, you may simply have what you need: shelter, food, and work. Remember that God has given you all that you have and that we need to show Him gratitude as well as share our blessings and help others whenever we can.
Downloadable/printable Bible verses about Asher (click on the image below for your two-page pdf)
Fun Facts About Asher in the Bible
- The Midrash records Asher’s birthdate as the 20th of Shevat.
- The stone of Asher is called Tarshish. This is translated in the KJ (Exodus 28:20) as “beryl”. Other sources identify the stone of Tarshish as amber.
- The Midrash Rabah describes the standard of Asher as depicting an olive tree and Asher was associated with olive oil. (most likely due to the blessings received pertaining to olive oil)
- The most known member of the tribe of Asher (other than Asher, of course) is the widow and prophetess, Anna
You may enjoy this sermon by Pastor Omar Thibeaux
You may also enjoy one of these recommended resources to dig even deeper:
The 12 Tribes of Israel (or is it 14?) & Lessons We Can Learn by Susan J Nelson
The blessing of Moses on the tribe of Asher opened and applyed in a mystical and spiritual sense, to every saint, and servant of Christ in a sermon on Deut. 33.25 … / by T. Beverley. (1693) by Thomas Beverley
Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You by John F. MacArthur (this book features a section on Anna, a well-known member of the Tribe of Asher.
What struck you most about Asher in the Bible? Do you see yourself as resting in your blessings, or do you remember to thank our Heavenly Father regularly for all He has done for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Because of Him,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”