The name Issachar in the Bible
There are two men named Issachar mentioned in the Bible:
- The famous Issachar is Jacob's ninth son and Leah's fifth (Genesis 30:18). His name occurs in the Greek New Testament only once, in Revelation 7:7, where it's spelled Ισαχαρ. Very curiously, the ethnonym Issacharite (יששכרי), does not occur in the Bible.
- The lesser known is the seventh son of Obed-edom (1 Chronicles 26:5).
Etymology of the name Issachar
The name Issachar consists of two parts, although the origin and meaning of the first part is disputed. NOBSE Study Bible Name List suggests a root in the word איש (ish) meaning man in the sense of a function (man of such and such). This word is written with an aleph, which does not occur in the name:
Note that the Masoretes pointed the first part of the name Issachar, ישׂ, with a שׂ (shin), while the noun אישׁ became pointed with a שׁ (shin).
BDB Theological Dictionary and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names disagree with NOBSE all together, and see more in the word יש (yesh), meaning there is:
Note again that the word ישׁ is pointed with a shin, contrary to the first part of the name Issachar.
About the second part of the name Issachar the sources are in agreement. It comes from the verb שכר (sakar) to hire:
The birth of Issachar was preceded by the birth and painfully naming of Gad, the son of Jacob with Leah's maid Zilpah (Genesis 30:11). Desiring Jacob's attention and appreciation, Leah had given her maid to Jacob. Now she even purchased the right to sleep with her husband by giving rivaling Rachel the mandrakes Reuben had found in the field (Genesis 30:14-16). Naming her son after the price she had to pay to rent her husband from his other wife shows the same kind of heartbreak Leah showed in naming Gad.
For a meaning of the name Issachar, NOBSE Study Bible Name List seems to go with the word איש ('ish), meaning man and reads Man Of Hire. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names uses יש (yesh), the particle that's indicative of presence and proposes He Is Wages. BDB Theological Dictionary, similarly, suggests There Is Recompense.