Abram was the first in scripture to be called 'Hebrew'. Why? What does it mean? Is it only referring to the lineage that Abram descended from? Or, is there an understanding of this discriptive term that also applies to us, as Believers In Christ? This writing explores this concept.
The Sons of Jacob / Israel
Issachar; A Just Reward
By this time in his journey, Jacob had produced/sired eight sons through three different women. Scripture doesn’t afford us the luxury of knowing the timing or ages of these sons, and it’s quite possible that some of these pregnancies with these various women overlapped. However, that part is only speculation, and not really relevant to grasping the Spiritual implications and lessons from these events. The Spiritual illuminations these characters are communicating to us remain relevant throughout the entirety of the Bible; all the way to the final verse in The Revelation of Jesus Christ. And with the advent of the ninth son, this pageant begins to take a more direct path on the continued journey, from the expulsion of ‘adam’ from The Garden, until the return of ‘adam’ to The Garden in Christ. For we all have our beginnings as ‘adam’, and our ultimate destination is Christ.
KJV Genesis 30:14 “And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes (dodai) Strong’s #1736, pronounced ‘do-dai’ ) in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes.” An important part of the scenario revealed in this verse is in understanding the word “mandrakes”, and what this word represents. In verse 16 of this chapter, Leah declares to Jacob that she has ‘hired’ (bought; ‘sah-kar’, Strong’s #7936) him from Rachel with her son’s mandrakes.
KJV Genesis 30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired (sah-kar, Strong’s #7936) thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.
All of us, at one time or another in our journey, have had experiences in which we felt like we got ‘bought’, or ‘bought off’. Some of us have been very vulnerable to the schemes and swindles of others, and the experience always leaves you with the negative emotional let-down of having been ‘had’. I can’t help but think that Jacob may have had similar thoughts, though he doesn’t ever seem to resist the invitation to “lay with me tonight”. Maybe Jacob was just reaping some of what he had also sown.
Throughout the history of mankind, the male of the species known as ‘man’ seems to have been fascinated with aphrodisia, the desire to inspire or conjure up sexual intimacy. In this scriptural setting, mandrakes were considered an aphrodisiac, and were also considered able to assist in conception. But the Hebrew word translated here as ‘mandrakes’ is the exact same word that is translated later as ‘david’; or in Hebrew, ‘dvd’, Strong’s #1730 - 1737). The Hebrew three-letter root ‘dvd’ (Strong’s #1730-1737) has been used many ways in the Old Testament, and most of those uses are a reference to a passionate desire, or lust, one has for a person or object, and even a lust for God. It is also translated into the name we pronounce as ‘David’; or in Hebrew, ‘dah-veed’. Hence, David was referred to as having “a heart for God”; or more directly, a passionate lust for God. In Song of Solomon 8:5, this same word, in a feminine form (dodah), is translated as ‘beloved’. So it is understandable how the word also got translated as ‘mandrake’, for ‘mandrake’ is a legitimate herb, and is recognized as a narcotic that was believed to make women more receptive to conception. Also at play in this pageant is the later understanding of how the word of God would be described as having the ability to ‘conceive’ Christ in our own hearts. For the Greek word ‘sperma’ is used many, many times throughout the Septuagint, as well as the Greek language of the New Testament, and is most always translated as ‘seed’. However, the New Testament language associates the Greek ‘sperma’ as being synonymous with the spoken promises of the Word of God. There are very many Spiritual scenarios being introduced and revealed in this pageant, and none of them are without significance.
I find it a little ironic that Leah’s oldest son, Reuben, while in the midst of wheat harvest (Pentecost?) brought to his mother mandrakes. I find it hard to accept that Reuben incidentally stumbled across mandrakes, and on his own initiative, would have conjured up the idea of bringing mandrakes to his Mother. However, Rachel, the younger sister, imposes upon Leah to share the mandrakes with her, which after scolding and rebuking Rachel for “…taking my husband”, Leah does share the mandrakes with her sister. It makes me wonder why Rachel didn’t initiate her own search for mandrakes, but rather seemed to want to take Leah’s mandrakes from her. The ensuing agreement for sharing mandrakes meant that Leah, through her sharing mandrakes with the competition, in essence ‘hired’ (sah-kar) Jacob for the evening. [Gen. 30: 14-16]
KJV Genesis 30:17 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bare Jacob the fifth son.
We are not privy to know whether Leah used the mandrakes brought to her by Reuben, though the mandrakes were obviously not successful in acquiring conception for Rachel. Scripture simply tells us that “…God hearkened (heard) unto Leah, and she conceived.” Rachel, however, was to remain barren until “…the fullness of time.”
KJV Genesis 30:18 And Leah said, God hath given me my hire (sah-kar, Strong’s # H7939; to hire; to receive wages; to bribe, or receive a bribe;), because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.” The most literal definition of the Hebrew word ‘issachar’ is “There exists wages”, or “There exists a reward.” Strong’s Concordance ascribes #7939 to this three-letter word ‘sah-kar’ when used as a noun, and #7936 when used as a verb (‘hired’ Gen. 30:16), but both forms are spelled identically, though pronounced slightly differently.
The language of verse 18 indicates that Leah ascribed her conception to “…God has given me my hire” (wages; reward; from the Hebrew ‘sah-kar’, Strong’s # H7939) “because I have given my maiden (handmaid; maidservant) to my husband.” Leah apparently believed her conception of a fifth son was God’s reward to her for an apparent obedience, or generosity; a gift for a gift.
The first place I can find this word ‘sah-kar’ is in Gen. 15:1 where the word is used as a noun, and translated as “reward.”
KJV Genesis 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward (sah-kar).”
Abram follows this up in verse 2 by saying, “…what will you give me,”? God had just told Abram in verse 1 “…I am your shield (protection; place of safety), and exceeding great ‘reward’ (sah-kar #7939).
The vast majority of the use of this word ‘sah-kahr’ is as a noun, and most uses of this word get translated as ‘hire’, ‘reward’, ‘wages’, ‘price’, etc. However, remembering that all Hebrew words are derived from action verbs, the importance of this word ‘Issachar’ seems to focus on the idea that Leah believed she had received her ‘reward’ of becoming pregnant again because of her actions. The most prominent ‘truth’ that speaks to me from this pageantry is in the following: “Your faith has made you whole”. [Matt. 9:22, Matt. 15:28, Luke 17:19] Jesus is recognized as being the source of healing for many, and in many settings. But His consistent response seems to be “Your faith is what makes you whole.” Leah proclaimed in Gen. 30:18 that “…God has given me my hire (sah-kar; wages; reward) because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar.” The implication seems to be that Leah was declaring that she conceived again as a reward for her ‘benevolent’ actions. She seemed to be saying that she ‘hired’ God, and God did what He was ‘hired’ to do. Hmmmm.
It would seem that when acting upon an instruction or unction, and thereby receiving the ‘reward’ that you desired, this would tend to boost your faith, or confidence, in your actions. And apparently this is what happened for Leah, for she was soon afterwards to conceive again from Jacob. Success begets success, particularly when you believe your success was a result of your confident actions. “Your faith has made you Whole.” Leah, whose name indicated a life overshadowed by negatives, was once again on the road to success, and destined to produce another son that would confirm her confidence in who she was, and where she dwelled. And the saga continues as we plot our progression from ‘adam’ to Christ, which is our intended destination.
Shalom and Shalom to you (double witness?) on your own individual journey from ‘adam’ to Christ. ‘Shalom’ literally means “…to have in place and in play all of the necessary facets of Life that make you ‘Whole’ as the Wholly Spirit intended to make you Whole.” Shalom is “Be Whole” as your Father in Heaven intends your Wholeness to be.
Shalom, Y’all !