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1 Chronicles 12:32 seems to present the children of Issachar as a tribe that had understanding of the times.

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command. (ESV)

What is the possible interpretation of this scripture? What was it that only the children of Issachar knew that Israel ought to do at those times and what were those times that they had understanding of?

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The passage in 1 Chron 12:23-40 describes the series of events that transferred military power to David at Hebron after the death of King Saul at Gibeon. The tribes are listed in succession - each contributing mostly soldiers in the infantry. The numbers tell the story - each tribe contributed between 6800 (minimum) to 120000 (max) consisting of spearmen, swordsmen, etc.

However, a few tribes contributed officers and those presumably skilled in battle tactics. The family of Zadok (v26) contributed 22 officers (possibly commanders); the tribe of Issachar (v32) contributed 200 chiefs who were skilled in battle planning and tactics; the tribe of Naphtali contributed 1000 officers (presumably commanders).

That is, each tribe had identifiable skills that were valued and necessary for a functioning army. Issachar had 200 brilliant tacticians who acted as intelligence officers - indispensable for any warfare.

  • This post has offered some great insights. So, what was it exactly that only the tribe of Issachar knew that Israel ought to do at those times and what were those times that they had understanding of? – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 18 '18 at 10:34
  • This is an excellent analysis, associating the information in question with military strategy. It seems to me that understanding it as relating to the military domain one doesn't really need to know the details to get the import of the passage. +1 I note also that their knowledge was "about our times" indicating that they knew not just how to fight but when to fight. – Ruminator Oct 18 '18 at 13:15
  • I look at it as a partial analysis to simply associate the information in question with military strategy alone. The verse reads 1. ". . . men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. . ." 2. ". . .200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command." I don't see the phrase "understanding of the times" in the first part of that verse speaking only of military strategy. – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 18 '18 at 19:49
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I believe that the children of Issachar had understanding of prophecies and the occurrences at any time to know what point they were on in the plan of God for their nation. All Israel was aware that David was anointed as king of Israel but could not mount the throne because Saul was still on the throne. On seeing the events that had occurred in the country in those times, they realized that it was time for the Lord's choice of king to be enthroned. While the rest of Israel was in confusion as on what to do next, they understood that it was time for Israel to acknowledge and make David their king.

  • I appreciate your point of view Ere. I see you touching on my comment @Dr Peter McGowan's post: . . . I don't see the phrase "understanding of the times" in the first part of that verse speaking only of military strategy. – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 23 '18 at 12:33

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