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Chapter 2

The Birth Of Issachar

Genesis 30:14-18

The birth of Issachar was described in more details than all his eleven brothers. It began with young Reuben, Issachar's eldest brother, finding mandrakes in the field. He brought these amazing fruits to his mother, Leah. When Rachel saw the mandrakes, she demanded some from Leah. This made Leah angry.

There had been much rivalry and jealousy between these two precious sisters since their marriages to Jacob. Their father, Laban, had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah. A week later, he allowed Jacob to marry Rachel. From that time onwards, there was a constant battle for love, attention and prestige. These two sisters even gave their personal maids to Jacob to become his wives as a strategy to bear Jacob more children.

At this moment in time, Leah had already borne Jacob four sons. Rachel had no children but she still had Jacob’s love. But both were miserable. One had children but no love of her husband; and the other had the love of her husband but no children.

Mandrakes grow abundantly throughout Israel and the Mediterranean regions. They are fruit bearing plants with dark green leaves and small bluish-purple flowers. The mandrakes are relatives of the potato family. Their yellow fruits are small, sweet and fragrant. They have narcotic qualities, and can be used for medicine. The fruit of the mandrake is also known as the love apple. It is considered as a love potion that can make a woman fruitful.

Rachel desperately needed these mandrakes so that she could bear Jacob a son. As Leah had stopped bearing children, she needed them too. But what good were the mandrakes to her if her husband did not desire her? It was Rachel herself who suggested to Leah that Jacob would be hired out to Leah for one night in exchange for the mandrakes. She said, "Leah, you can sleep with Jacob tonight if you will give me some of your son’s mandrakes." Jacob must have stopped sleeping with Leah completely. He had four wives by then, and must be busy with the other three - Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah.

When Jacob came in from the field, Leah went out to meet him and told him about the special arrangement that she had made with Rachel. As this story unfolded, your heart would be filled with sympathy for this unloved woman. Leah was unashamed. She was willing to humble herself and tell her husband that she had actually hired him for one night. But her motives were pure. Besides desiring children, she longed for the love of her husband. Maybe, Jacob would love her this time.

That night, God opened her womb and caused her to conceive. Issachar was born, not by flesh and blood alone but by the divine intervention of God. She called this child Issachar, which meant "I paid for what I hired" or "I got paid back." In other words, "it was worth it all."

Wherever Issachar went, he carried this trademark of his mother’s deed in his birth. "Hired! Hired! I was bought and paid for a few mandrakes." This trademark was evident in the character and personality of Issachar throughout his life. Issachar and all his descendants carried this mark of servanthood upon their lives.

The Hebraic name for Issachar was Yissaskar. It simply meant "he will bring a reward." Its two root words were nasa and sakar.

Nasa meant "to lift, accept, advance, arise, able to suffer or bear, bring forth, burn, carry, cast, contain, desire, ease, exact, exalt, extol, fetch, forgive, furnish, further, give, go on, help, high, hold up, honorable, lade, lay, lift self up, lofty, marry, magnify, obtain, pardon, raise up, receive, regard, respect, set up, spare, stir up, swear, take away, take up, wear, yield."

Sakar meant "payment of contract, salary, fare, maintenance, compensation, benefit, hire, price, reward, wages, worth."

Issachar was a born servant. He was born to serve. He was both humble and honorable. He was able to lift and pick himself up even in times of difficulties and calamities. Being a man of humility and compassion, he did not force his way into the lives of others. His presence in a crowd was not often noticeable. But when he was not around, his absence would be easily felt. When a job needed to be done, Issachar was always ready to render his assistance. He had eyes to see the needs of others, and hands to administer the necessary helps. This was his calling and gifting.

The wages of Issachar were not paid in silver and gold but in terms of love for the services of love. Issachar’s service to the LORD could not be measured in dollars and cents but in the height, depth, breath, length and intensity of love rendered and received. The sons of Issachar were willingly to accept what was before them. They were godly, and they were contented with what they had.

Personal Note:
The birth date of Issachar was significant personally to me. He was the fifth son of Leah but the ninth son of Jacob. I was born in 1959 (note: 59). He was conceived in the time of the wheat harvest, the month of Sivan, which was from late May till mid-June. So his birthday would be in the month of Adar, which was around March, and possibly the first three weeks. I was born in the second week of March.

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