Journey Through The Scriptures

The Twelve Tribes of Israel, Part II

Lesson 5: Three Profitable Traders

(Scripture to Read: Genesis 49:13–15, 20; Deuteronomy 33:18–19, 24–25; 1 Chronicles 12:32)

Similar to the other middle tribes, the tribes of Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun played little significance in the history of the twelve tribes. One important similarity among these tribes was their skill in trade and commerce. The tribe of Asher lived among and traded with the Phoenicians, the tribe of Issachar had some of the best and most fertile land in all of Palestine, and the Zebulunites profited greatly from maritime trade.

As prophesied in Genesis 49, the tribe of Issachar was bound and forced to work their fertile land. The Zebulunites did give a leader to Israel, the judge Elon (Judges 12:11–12), and they were strong in war. The name “Asher” means “blessed, happy,” and Moses’ blessing indicates that the Asherites enjoyed great prosperity – although the tribe was eventually absorbed into Phoenician society. At a later period, Israel was aided by the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” These men probably knew the phases of the moon and sun, and probably had spiritual sensitivity as well.

Study Questions

  1. Why did these tribes' economic blessings lead to their downfall in some cases?
  2. How could a tribe of Israel be assimilated into another society?
  3. Why was it important that the men of Issachar interpret the signs of the times?
  4. What can we learn from this study in terms of our approach to business and commerce?

Something to Think About

It is wonderful when God chooses to bless us materially, but it is even more wonderful when we learn to handle those blessings responsibly and use them to help others. I am blessed to be a partner with so many caring friends in The Fellowship who are exemplary in their generosity and concern for others.