Issachar (Hebrew: ישּׂשׂכר, Yiśśâḵār; "reward, recompense"), (b. ca. 25 Adar 2252 AM, or 29 March 1752 BC), was a son of Jacob and Leah, and the ancestor of the Tribe of Issachar, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
In Sivan of 2251 AM (May-June 1753 BC, or literally, "in the days of the wheat harvest"), Reuben went into the field and gathered mandrakes (Mandragora officinarum) for his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah for a portion of them, and Leah protested that Rachel already had the favor of Jacob, and now was asking for a supply of the one thing that each woman supposed would make her fertile. Rachel then offered to allow Leah to lie with Jacob that evening. Leah agreed, and when Jacob returned from the field, Leah told him directly that she had "hired" him for the evening, at the price of a few mandrakes.
The Bible records that Leah conceived that evening. Issachar was born in the next year. The Bible does not state the exact date on which the transaction occurred. That date might have been on 15 Sivan, and 25 Adar would be about 280 days (the average time of a human pregnancy) later.
When Issachar was born, Leah observed that God had recompensed her for giving her handmaid to her husband. (Genesis 30:14-18 )
Leah might have considered the mandrakes more dear than usual, because her five-year-old son had gathered them at considerable risk to his physical and mental health. Mandrakes do not make a woman fertile, but the alkaloids that they contain are psychoactive, and overdoses can be lethal.
Entry into Egypt
In 2298 AM (1706 BC), Issachar entered Egypt permanently, having visited Egypt twice before to buy grain during the famine of 2296-2302 AM (1708-1701 BC). He was 46 years old at the time and had four named sons: Tola, Phuvah, Job, and Shimron.In his deathbed blessing of Issachar, Jacob said:
Issachar is a rawboned donkey lying down between two saddlebags. When he sees how good is his resting place and how pleasant is his land, he will bend his shoulder to the burden and submit to forced labor. Genesis 49:14-15
Issachar in fiction
- Jones, Floyd N. The Chronology of the Old Testament. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, p. 278.