It is time for the fifth lot to be pulled in the assignment of territory in the Promised Land. And the winner is… Asher!
Asher is given territory that still needed to be conquered. The region they were assigned wasn’t cleared during the campaigns that Joshua led. But by the time Israel is split into two kingdoms their territory is firmly under the Northern Kingdom’s control.
There isn’t a lot of information about the history of this tribe after they receive their lot. We do hear about them sending 40,000 battle hardened soldiers to help David with the transfer of Saul’s kingdom after his death.
When researching Asher’s history I found that the territory given to this tribe was the most fertile of all the land. This goes well with Asher’s blessing from Israel. “Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies” (Genesis 49:20). Moses also blessed the tribe of Asher also. “Most blessed of sons be Asher; let him be the favorite of his brothers, and let him dip his foot in oil” (Deuteronomy 33:24). Both blessings speak of only good things for Asher.
In the research I was finding it was said that the women of Asher were very beautiful and desirable. I looked for biblical references of this but found none. The references offered are from other literature of the times. I don’t have access to this literature so can’t speak to its veracity but I also have no concrete reason to doubt it. I’m NOT a scholar but enough sources in agreement lead me to lend credence to this claim. This would give new meaning to “yielding royal delicacies” as kings and priests were said to seek wives among the tribe of Asher. It would also give more meaning to this tribe being “favorite of his brothers.”
Looking at the geographical references for Asher’s territory I was left with a question. Was Asher’s western border the Mediterranean Sea? When looking at the description given to us it doesn’t say this clearly. We see that “On the west it touches Carmel and Shihora-libnath” (verse 26b). We don’t see the sea mentioned until describing the northern border. “Then the boundary turns to Hosah, and it ends at the sea” (verse 29b). Is Carmel on the sea? It looks like the southern border is being delineated in the first statement because the western point is mentioned followed by “then it turns eastward” (verse 27a). As we know, east NEVER intersects with west. Once the line from Carmel reaches its most eastward point of “the Valley of Iphtahel” the references turn northward. It turns west again at Sidon the Great.
After reading the description again and running through it with you, I see nowhere mentioned where the boundary line turns towards the south. This leaves me with the firm conclusion that the sea is the western border. Thanks for bearing with me while I processed this.
I wonder how long it took for the tribe of Asher to conquer the land. Did they leave inhabitants in the land like some of the other tribes did? I guess these questions will have to wait. They probably won’t be answered until “bench time” with Jesus.
Father God, thank You for the blessings You gave Asher. Thank You for prompting me to search. I like learning more about the stories in Your word. There is so much more that I want to know. NOT because of doubt but because I want to know EVERYTHING I can about You and those You love. I want to look at Your ‘scrapbook’ and see all the pictures. I want to follow all the stories of the people You took such great care of. I want to know what brought them closer and what drew them away. I want to know what pitfalls to avoid. I want to know what made them the ‘happy’ people, besides the meaning of the name Asher. Let me never lose the wonder inspired by Your word!