Ninth son of Jacob and fifth of Leah, born a considerable length of time after her other children (Gen. xxx. 17, 18; comp. xxix. 35). This name belongs to that class of words which, according to Masoretic printing, are not read as they are written, the second ש being ignored. The meaning of the name is either "there is a reward" ("yesh sakar") or, according to Wellhausen ("Text der Bücher Samuels," p. 95), "a man of hire" ("ish sakar"). In Gen. xxx. 18 (Hebr.) the former explanation is plainly indicated: "God has given me my reward, because I have given my maiden to my husband." Still there is in verse 16 an allusion to the latter explanation: "For I have surely hired thee with my son's mandrakes." Ball ("S. B. O. T.," "Genesis," on Gen. xxx. 18) interprets the name as "Sokar's man," that is, "man of the Egyptian god Sokar." Issachar had four sons, who founded the four chief families of the tribe (Gen. xlvi. 13; Num. xxvi. 23, 24; I Chron. vii. 1). Jacob in blessing his children before his death compared Issachar to a strong or bony ass (Gen. xlix. 14). This expression is a prophecy referring to the tribe of Issachar.
Issachar was one of the five brothers whom Joseph presented to Pharaoh (Gen. xlvii. 2; Gen. R. xcv. 3). In the wars between Jacob's sons and the Canaanites, in which, according to the legend, the other sons achieved astonishing exploits, Issachar took but a feeble part. He is mentioned as having remained beneath the walls of Sarṭa and Gaash, two strongly fortified cities, and at a given opportunity as having opened their gates ("Sefer ha-Yashar," section-"Wayishlaḥ," ed. Leghorn, 1870, pp. 60b, 63a). He married Aridah, the younger daughter of Jobab, the son of Joktan (ib. section "Wayesheb," p. 75a). At Jacob's funeral Issachar was one of the three who were placed to the cast in carrying the bier (ib. section "Wayeḥi"; comp. Gen. R. c. 2). Issachar's name was engraved in the sapphire of the high priest's breastplate (Ex. R. xxxviii. 11). Issachar was born on the fourth day of the fifth month (Ab) and died at the age of 122 (Midrash Tadshe, in Epstein, "Mi-Ḳadmoniyyot ha-Yehudim," p. xxiii.).
2. A Levite, seventh son of Obed-edom (I Chron. xxvi. 5).