Issachar / Yissachar יִשָּׂשׁכָר
What imageries are included in the depiction of Issachar?
The illustration of Issachar includes the traditional tribal emblem of the laden donkey (from Gen. 49:14), which is peaking through the window. It also displays other tribal symbols like the sun, moon and stars on a bluish-black night sky derived from 1 Chron. 12:32, “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times (astronomy and calendars).” The artwork features the men of learning who understood the times by recording the alignments of the planets. The depiction includes a telescope and a library-learning setting. The ancient map that they are studying portrays the course of the moon around the earth. There is an hourglass and an ancient astrolabe which was used for surveying and keeping time.
The Meaning of the Name Issachar
In Gen. 30:18, “Leah said: G-d has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband. So she named him Issachar.” One interpretation of his name is ,”man of reward,” from the Hebrew word shcar. It is also translated as: “give me my hire,” or “reward” or “my reward (is with Him).”
The Biblical Blessings for the Tribe
Jacob blessed Issachar in Gen. 49:14-15 by saying: “Issachar is a sturdy donkey, resting between two saddle packs. For he saw a resting-place that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under task-work.” Jacob calls Issachar a “laden donkey,” and other sources use representations of Issachar to reflect the dependence of this tribe on the Phoenicians, in whose products the tribe dealt—as a carrier of loads (donkey).
Moses blessed the tribes of Zebulun and Issachar together by stating: “Therefore, rejoice, Zebulun, in your successful departure from your homes as you set sail to engage in commerce, and Issachar, be successful in your tents, where you will study the Torah.” This prayer was fulfilled in the Torah scholars from the tribe of Issachar who became astronomical experts, performing the complicated calculations necessary for sanctifying the new moon each month and intercalating the calendar when necessary. By determining when each month will begin, the scholars of Issachar would call the tribes of Israel to the Temple Mountain to observe the pilgrim festivals at their proper times. Thus, due to their efforts, the Israelites were able to offer up proper sacrifices at their appointed time. Issachar was able to achieve such expertise in the knowledge of the Torah because of the support of Zebulun, who prospered though the abundance of the seas and by the caches of valuable commodities hidden in the sand at the seashore.” The two tribes forged a strong partnership, in which Zebulun planned to engage in commerce and share his profits with Issachar, who would then be free to study the Torah unhindered by financial worry.
Issachar’s territory was the Plain of Esdraelon, from the sea to the banks of the Jordan.