What imageries are included in the depiction of Asher?
The illustration of Asher features the traditional tribal emblem of the oil tree. The view is toward the Mediterranean Sea—Asher’s allotment in the land. It features one of Asher’s beautiful children on her way to collect olives. She is passing by a table with a flask filled with precious pure olive oil and royal delicacies grown on their fertile soil. The girl is focused on her task at hand rather than stopping to taste the royal luxurious treats alluding to her spiritual maturity.
The Meaning of the Name Asher
The meaning of the name Asher, among many, is prosperous, happy, good fortune and blessed. In Genesis 30:13 at the birth of Asher, Leah said, “I am happy, for the daughters will call me blessed.”
The Biblical Blessings for the Tribe
Before Moses’ passing he gave the tribe of Asher the following blessing: “May Asher be blessed with sons; he will be pleasing to his brothers, and immerse his foot in oil.”
Jacob blessed Asher with a prophetic message: “From Asher will come rich food, and he will provide royal delicacies.” In the Midrash we find another layer of meaning behind this blessing. The Hebrew word used here for “rich” is shmeinah. The same four Hebrew letters also spell the word shmoneh, “eight.” So, according to the Midrash, Asher will raise children who wear eight garments, implying the eight garments worn by the high priest. How can this be related, since the high priests come from the Tribe of Levi? Asher’s daughters’ physical beauty reflected their inner qualities of modesty, nobility, spiritual maturity and loveliness. They exhibited an internal commitment to spirit over flesh, which made them highly desirable and the perfect partners to high priests and royalties. Thus, Asher’s grandchildren were eligible for the position of high priests and kings who were anointed with olive oil. In Jewish thought, “oil” also signifies wisdom.
Traditionally, the symbol for Asher is the Olive tree.
Asher settled on the western slopes and valleys of Upper and Lower Galilee and on the Phoenician plain, which included some of the most productive land in Israel. It contained pastures, wooded hills, and orchards that were especially noted for the abundance and richness of its olive oil.
More specifically, according to Joshua 19:24-31, the allotment for Asher included: Helkath, Hali, Beten, Akshaph, Allammelek, Amad and Mishal. On the west the boundary touched Carmel and Shihor Libnath: turning east toward Beth Dagon, it touched Zebulun and the Valley of Iphtah El, and went north to Beth Emek and Neiel, passing Kabul on the left. It stretched to Abdon, Rehob, Hammon and Kanah, and as far as Greater Sidon. The boundary then turned back toward Ramah and proceeded to the fortified city of Tyre, turning toward Hosah and coming out at the Mediterranean Sea in the region of Akzib,Ummah, Aphek and Rehob.