March 11, 2015

     Have you ever wondered about the definitions of Jacob’s sons in the “Glossary” of Science and Health? There are 12 sons of Jacob, and 9 of them have definitions in the Glossary — 4 of the sons have definitions that we should aspire to (or pray for), and 4 of them have definitions from which we should refrain (or fast). Benjamin has one definition of each, perhaps because his mother and father each gave him a different name when he was born. Rachel named him Ben-oni (son of my sorrow), while Jacob called him Benjamin (son of the right hand). Last week, the subject was on self-will, self-justification, and self-love, so I included Mrs. Eddy’s first (and undesirable) definition of Benjamin with the readings on King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.
     Issachar was more difficult to track because there are few Bible references about him other than  the story about his birth due to Rachel trading with Leah for her mandrakes.  According to the notes in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, mandrakes were “roots of a potato-like plant thought to have aphrodisiac properties.”
     One of the few jsh-online references to Issachar (other than in a list of tribes) was in article by Bible scholar Thomas Leishman who referenced “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs” completed in the 2nd century. The Testament of Issachar does include more details about the mandrake story (calling them “sweet-smelling apples”) with its conclusion foretelling Joseph. “Because of the mandrakes, therefore the Lord hearkened to Rachel. For though she desired them, she ate them not, but offered them in the house of the Lord, presenting them to the priest of the Most High who was at that time.” (Issachar, II v. 4-5) I love that detail about Rachel offering her desires in prayer — much like Hannah, the Shunammite woman, Elizabeth, and many others in the Bible.
     So, in the Desk Announcement, I mentioned that these readings were about fasting from an impure sense of love — for our families and for our careers. Do you think that summarizes this obscure Issachar?