A Strong-boned Ass: The Blessing of Issachar
An Excerpt from CGWKBK 5 Vol. 1: Vayechi-Blazing Saddles

The Strong-boned Ass

Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds.  When he saw that a resting place was good and that the land was pleasant, he bowed his shoulder to bear burdens, and became a slave at forced labor. (Genesis 49:14-16)

Issachar's blessing has much in common with Judah's.  Both are described as crouching down, Judah as a lion and a royal warrior, and Issachar as a donkey between the sheepfolds, a prophet-shepherd.  Issachar lies down to guard the two sheepfolds, perhaps Israel and Judah or the native born to the covenant and those from the nations who would join themselves to Israel.

Donkeys are often turned out to pasture with cattle or other livestock to protect them from coyotes or other predators.  They not only work hard, but they are fiercely protective of the herd.  The name Yissachar means a reward, or repayment, a wage.  With Judah and Issachar, we see a paradox of the Kingdom of Heaven. Rulership is the reward of humility, service, and patience, the spirit of prophecy.  

Issachar's blessing was to be an ass: to serve, bow, protect the sheep, and perform hard work.  Yet, his very name implies that he will be rewarded for this seemingly mundane blessing.  To serve one another is a blessing, and it is the spirit of prophecy because those who serve are doing the deeds of Yeshua.  This steady, patient service is necessary in the assemblies of Adonai because it was the tribe of Issachar who was faithful in times of war.  The lowly ass is the same symbol for the Jewish warrior who washes his robes in the blood of grapes, a metaphor for war in the Prophets.

Judge Deborah's and Barak's fight against the iron chariots of Sisera was not fought with pride, but humility.  Deborah didn't fight back with horses of pride, she saddled her ass and fought back with strong-boned donkey servants: the tribe of Issachar!  

"And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; as was Issachar, so was Barak; into the valley they rushed at his heels..."[1]

Wait a minute, wasn't it the tribe of Dan who was blessed with to strike at the horses' heels? But they stayed in their ships!  Too lazy?  Too busy with their own affairs?  Didn't like Barak?  Didn't want to follow a woman?  What was it?  Regardless, it was Issachar who exercised Dan's blessing in battle.

Later in Scripture the tribe of Issachar again is mentioned as great warriors, and again they are at the forefront of the army, rallying to the anointed king David to unite Israel, moving in the spirit of prophecy.  1 Chronicles 12:23-40 is one example:

Now these are the numbers of the divisions equipped for war, who came to David at Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD.  Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs {were} two hundred; and all their kinsmen {were} at their command.

 All these, being men of war who could draw up in battle formation, came to Hebron with a perfect heart to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest also of Israel were of one mind to make David king. They were there with David three days, eating and drinking, for their kinsmen had prepared for them. Moreover those who were near to them, {even} as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought food on donkeys, camels, mules and on oxen, great quantities of flour cakes, fig cakes and bunches of raisins, wine, oil, oxen and sheep.

The patience of a strong-boned ass is necessary to cultivate understanding of the times, especially the festival times for the King.   The right thing can be done at the wrong time, but the wise, strong-boned ass discerns and rises up to protect the sheep at the right time.

The blessings on each tribe are not exclusive to each tribe.  The tribes of Israel are the FAMILY of Israel.  When someone refuses the job and forfeits that opportunity to operate in his or her blessing, then another family member may put her shoulder to the burden and carry it. 

The example of Issachar is that the individual who submits to the less-than-glorious service to others will be raised up to war like the lion of Judah's blessing and Dan's tactical serpent biting the rider's heels and judging their people with wise chiefs.

The patient tribe of Issachar was blessed with:
  • the sword of Shimon and Levi because he was not cruel to the livestock, but protected them.  He was not angry and vengeful like Shimon and Levi, but he knew that a resting place was good.
  • being able to put his hand on the neck of his enemies like Judah
  • being a tribe who discerns the times, so they can speak beautiful words like Naphtali
  • fighting like Gad, a troop raiding the enemy
  • being a wolf in war like Benjamin, tearing the enemy
  • the steady bow like Joseph
  • chiefs blessed with the wise dignity of the firstborn Reuven
Is it such a bad thing to become a servant to hard donkey labor, shepherding the flocks of sheep?  This is the very preparation for difficult times.  Patient study in the Word and a commitment to menucha, or creating resting place for Israel, is a prerequisite for understanding the times.  Running to and fro to conspiracy theories or the latest internet "insight" is not preparation for troubled times.  The patience of Issachar is preparation for tribulation.  

What can the tribes teach us?

Not to be unstable.  Not to run to and fro to new things.  Don't pour yourself like water into the weird doctrine of the day.

Don't be angry and vengeful.  Be kind even to animals.

Be so patient that you could be tied to the flimsiest vine without breaking away when distractions come.

Speak encouraging words.

Act quickly to do good, which burns up the enemy.


Aim at the real enemy, not brothers, and do not waver.

Conduct yourself with dignity. 

Such traits characterize the family of Israel, for from there will come the Shepherd:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9) 

Patiently bearing our burdens of protecting and pasturing the flocks leads to great skill in the day of battle.  If we are a family, then my blessing is your blessing, and your blessing is mine.  It's not MY ministry, it's OUR ministry.  This is the family of Israel, "with a perfect heart to make David king over all Israel."

[1] Judges 5:15


We still have two seats available on the March 19-30, 2017, Israel tour.  Our focus is preparing for Passover as we walk in the ancient paths of our forefathers' faith.  We're looking for spiritual renewal, and studies will focus on both the observance of Passover in the First Century as well as its spiritual and prophetic place in our lives and apocalyptic prophecies.


Cost is $2100 plus your airfare.  For more information or registration, go to www.blossomingrose.org and view the Pennington/Alewine tour:  Standing With Israel: the Revelation.

What is the Torah? in Spanish

The Kindle Spanish version of BEKY Book What is the Torah? is now on Amazon.

Now available on Amazon, the newest BEKY Book, Truth, Tradition, or Tare: Growing in the Word.

Readers of the Newer Testament can find its treatment of tradition confusing. Many of the customs in its pages are Jewish, and therefore foreign to non-Jewish believers. Yeshua (Jesus) sometimes corrected those observing religious customs, yet at other times he said they should have observed them. Paul does the same in his letters, and twice he instructs non-Jewish believers to keep the Jewish customs he passed on to them.

Among believers in Yeshua today, some enjoy incorporating tradition into their worship. Some dismiss all customs as "man-made," and therefore extraneous at best or the sin "adding to" the written Word at worst. There is a way to determine the relationship of the written Word to tradition, for the Word would not leave us without comfort on such an important question. Our Father wants His children to grow in wisdom, maturity, and favor before Him as well as their communities.

The methods used by the prophets of the Older Testament (TANAKH) as well as the writers of the Newer Testament (Brit HaChadasha) did leave readers guidelines to divide the Seed of truth from tradition, and then to separate a tradition grown from truth from a "taredition" grown from a different seed. Additionally, it is just as important to the disciple of Yeshua to test the goodness of the soil on which the practice of the Word grows. The most important consideration in the Older Testament's, Yeshua's, and the apostles' instructions is the sincere heart that holds justice, mercy, and faithfulness as the weightier matters of any religious custom.

By evaluating the traditions that one chooses to observe or not observe, the individual can avoid the lament:

"O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: 'Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.'"

By applying the instructions in the Word, every believer is encouraged in his or her growth. A careful examination of Yeshua's instructions lifts a nuance that is frequently lost in discussions of truth and tradition. The first step is to identify whether that tradition is a tare. By throwing all tradition into a mental trash bin labeled Man's Tradition, it is possible that one could throw good plants and fruit into the bin with the tares. This is a logical fallacy called oversimplification. Yeshua's parables encourage his disciples to learn critical thinking skills so that growth in the Word is abundant life.

When a disciple of Yeshua examines his or her walk in the Word, there may be times that he or she feels that there is not enough growth. The very fact that we question our growth is a sign of readiness to grow. The next step is to allow the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) to teach us how to bear good fruit. To do that, every disciple can identify beliefs and practices that either stimulate healthy growth in the Word, or they stunt it. Welcome to the living fields of the Father's Garden! 
LaMalah Children's Centre

Thank you for your faithful donations!  We hope to be able to take in two more youngsters on the waiting list soon.