Zebulun and Issachar
Genesis 49:13-21
Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be to Zidon.…

The tribes of the last two sons of Leah Moses unites together, and, like Jacob, places Zebulun, the younger, first. It has been represented by many, that from the words Jacob used with regard to Issachar, the patriarch was reproving this tribe for its indolence and for preferring ease at the sacrifice of liberty, that, "like an idle beast of burden, he would rather submit to the yoke and be forced to do the work of a slave than risk his possessions and his peace in the struggle for liberty." It is impossible, however, to be satisfied with such a view after reading the words of Moses with reference to this tribe. When we read of Issachar "calling the people unto the mountain, and there offering the sacrifices of righteousness," such a view would be utterly inconsistent with these words. If we trace the further history of this tribe, recorded in Judges 5:15, we find that, so far from shrinking from difficulty and danger, they were among the foremost in coming to the help of the Lord against Israel's enemies. Jacob's language is clearly not that of reproof, but of praise, prophetically applied to them for their patience under what was heavy to be borne. With such a view the passage becomes clear, and contains many points of beautiful instruction. And let us mark first how God apportions to each one his own appointed place. Jacob allotted to each tribe the place it was afterwards to occupy, just as if he had had a map before him of the country they were to inhabit, while as yet they had not one foot of land in their possession. The tribes were not settled in their various positions according to Joshua's plan. God appointed that their places should be given them by lot, and He made the lot to fall exactly as Jacob and Moses uttered their predictions. And God placed each one exactly in the place suited to its capacities and the best adapted for developing all that was in them, and thus for His own glory. One He placed at the haven of the sea, another inland. One where it would have to endure oppression and hardship, another where it would have great prosperity, and be less subject to such pressure. We may be sure it is the same with every one of us. We may sometimes be tempted to say, "If I were only in another place or in other circumstances, how differently I could act." But it is not so. We may be quite sure we are each one of us in the very place God would have us to he — the very best place both for our own temporal and eternal welfare, and for His highest glory. And such a spirit, it appears to me, is manifested in the character of Issachar here. Issachar is brought before us as finding the position in which God had placed him to be the best. "He saw that rest was good and the land that it was pleasant." Thus the Christian finds the rest into which Christ has brought him to be indeed good, and that his place in Christ is a good land. When this has been learned by experience through the teaching of God's Holy Spirit, the soul becomes ready for all else. And then it is that, like Issachar, the soul is ready to " bow the shoulder to bear, and become a servant to tribute." It can stoop, yea, joyfully stoop, to the meanest service for Christ. It asks no questions, makes no bargains, but with a spirit ever sitting at the feet of the Master, exclaims, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" It "bows the shoulder to bear" whatever the Lord may be pleased to lay upon it.

(F. Whitfield, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.

WEB: "Zebulun will dwell at the haven of the sea. He will be for a haven of ships. His border will be on Sidon.

The Blessings of Zebulun
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