|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
49:13-18 Concerning Zebulun: if prophecy says, Zebulun shall be a haven of ships, be sure Providence will so plant him. God appoints the bounds of our habitation. It is our wisdom and duty to accommodate ourselves to our lot, and to improve it; if Zebulun dwell at the heaven of the sea, let him be for a haven of ships. Concerning Issachar: he saw that the land was pleasant, yielding not only pleasant prospects, but pleasant fruits to recompense his toils. Let us, with an eye of faith, see the heavenly rest to be good, and that land of promise to be pleasant; this will make our present services easy. Dan should, by art, and policy, and surprise, gain advantages against his enemies, like a serpent biting the heel of the traveller. Jacob, almost spent, and ready to faint, relieves himself with those words, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord! The salvation he waited for was Christ, the promised Seed; now that he was going to be gathered to his people, he breathes after Him to whom the gathering of the people shall be. He declared plainly that he sought heaven, the better country, Heb 11:13,14. Now he is going to enjoy the salvation, he comforts himself that he had waited for the salvation. Christ, as our way to heaven, is to be waited on; and heaven, as our rest in Christ, is to be waited for. It is the comfort of a dying saint thus to have waited for the salvation of the Lord; for then he shall have what he has been waiting for.
Verses 14, 15. - Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens - literally, an ass of bone - hence a strong, powerful animal, asinus fortis (Vulgate), asinus walidi corporis (Gesenius), asinus robustus (Rosenmuller) - lying down between the folds, or cattle-pens, which received and protected the flocks by night, the dual being used probably because such pens were divided into two parts for different kinds of cattle (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, 'Speaker s Commentary,' &c.), though the word mishpetaim has been also rendered ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν κλήρων (LXX.), inter terminos (Vulgate, Rosenmüller), "within their own boundaries" (Onkelos, Targums of Jerusalem and Jonathan), "between two burdens" (A. V., Lange, Murphy, &c.). And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant. Issachar was to manifest a keen appreciation of the land or portion of territory that should be assigned to him, and to renounce the warlike spirit and military enterprises of his brethren for the indolent and luxurious repose of his fat pastures, crouching between his sheep-folds, or rejoicing within his tents, like a lazy ass, capable indeed of mighty efforts, but too self-satisfied to put forth much exertion, devoting himself to agriculture and pastoral pursuits, and preferring rather to pay tribute to his brethren, in order to secure their protection, than to leave his ploughshare and cast aside his shepherd's crook to follow them into the tented field of war, as the patriarch next describes. And bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute - or a tributary servant. The phrase מַס־עֹבֵד, though sometimes used of servitude under a foreign sovereignty (Deuteronomy 20:11; Joshua 16:10), commonly refers to tribute rendered by labor (1 Kings 9:21; 2 Chronicles 8:8), and is correctly rendered ἄνθρωπος εἴς φόρον δουλεύων (Aquila), factusque est tributo serviens (Vulgate). The translation καὶ ἐγενήθη ἀνὴο γεωργος (LXX.) discovers in the clause an allusion to Issachar's agricultural pursuits.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Issachar is a strong ass,.... Or as one, the note of similitude being wanting, as Ben Melech observes; "a bony" (e) one, as the word signifies; not one that is lean, and nothing but skin and bones, as some interpret it, but that is strong and robust, able to carry burdens; and this tribe is compared to an ass, not for stupidity and sluggishness, but for its strength, and its use in husbandry, in which this tribe was chiefly occupied: the Targums of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret this figuratively, of his being strong to bear the yoke of the law: and it is a notion of the Jews, that this tribe were skilful in the doctrines of the law, and the intercalation of years, &c. from 1 Chronicles 12:32 couching down between two burdens: one hanging on one side, and another on the other; which Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret of bales of goods; and may as well be understood of sacks of corn, or anything else, carried by these creatures, which, when they come into a good pasture, and for the sake of that and ease, will lie down with their burdens on them, and rise up again with them: the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem paraphrase it, "between two borders" (f), or the borders of his brethren, as Jonathan, Zebulun and Dan, between which this tribe lay; and this is the reason Aben Ezra gives why Issachar, who was older than Zebulun, is mentioned after him, and between him and Dan, because his land lay between them; and so it may be observed, that in the division of the land in Joshua's time, Issachar's lot came up after Zebulun's, Joshua 19:10 but Doctor Lightfoot thinks (g) it refers to the two kingdoms, between which it lay, that of Phoenicia on one side, and that of Samaria on the other.
(e) "Asinus osseus", Montanus, Tigurine version, Munster, Vatablus, Drusius, Piscator, Cartwright. (f) "inter terminos", V. L. "inter terminos duos", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, Cartwright; so Ainsworth, "inter duos finos", Tigurine version. (g) Works, vol. 1. p. 698.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ge 49:14, 15. Issachar—
14. a strong ass couching down between two burdens—that is, it was to be active, patient, given to agricultural labors. It was established in lower Galilee—a "good land," settling down in the midst of the Canaanites, where, for the sake of quiet, they "bowed their shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."
Genesis 49:14 Parallel Commentaries
Genesis 49:14 NIV
Genesis 49:14 NLT
Genesis 49:14 ESV
Genesis 49:14 NASB
Genesis 49:14 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible