Deuteronomy 33:24-25 Of Asher he [Moses] said,
“More blessed than sons is Asher;
May he be favored by his brothers,
And may he dip his foot in oil.
“Your locks will be iron and bronze,
And according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.” (NASB)
Iron, bronze and days of leisure… What a life the tribe of Asher received! They had food in abundance, they had valuable material goods, they had a great location on the world stage, and they had time to enjoy it. What could possibly go wrong?
They got too content too fast. Life was good.
Judges 1:31-32 Asher did not drive out the inhabitants of Acco, or the inhabitants of Sidon, or of Ahlab, or of Achzib, or of Helbah, or of Aphik, or of Rehob. So the Asherites lived among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land; for they did not drive them out. (NASB)
Out of twenty-two villages and their territories, plus the city of Tyre, Asher left seven villages plus their territories alone. In other words, they decided that about a third of those God told them to get rid of, weren’t bad enough to worry about. There was plenty of food and luxury to go around, right?
In addition, the tribe of Asher started shrinking. When Moses numbered them, there were 41,500 men. When David counted them, hundreds of years later, there were 40,000. Not much of a number difference, but people groups generally increase over time.
Then came the divided kingdom. As a whole, the people of the north, which included Asher, stopped following the Lord with a whole heart. They observed some ceremonies and said their sacrifices were to Yahweh God, but most no longer made the lengthy trek to Jerusalem. After all, Bethel was closer. And if their king said Yahweh would understand, they could go along with it. Besides, some of the ceremonies and celebrations of their neighbors were fun. They loved God, of course, and didn’t take the other stuff seriously, so all was good.
Then Assyria started to gather power and strength. To buy them off, every wealthy Israelite was taxed by their king to give fifty shekels of silver to buy off Assyria and get them to stop their invasion. We already established that Asherites were wealthy. God does not tell us how many of the two hundred shares were paid by Asher, but it could have been substantial. After all, they, Naphtali and East Manassas held the northern border… closest to the invading Assyrians.
Giving money to a potential enemy isn’t a good idea historically. It only whets their appetite for more.
Fifteen years later, a newer and stronger Assyria would return.
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