Failure of Asher: Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Judges)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Chapter 5
Failure of Asher Judges 1:31, 32

31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.


31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob:
32 But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out.

After the Israelites settled in the land of Canaan, Sidon was near the territory of Zebulun 1(Gen. 49:13 ) and Asher 2(Jos. 19:28 ). But the tribe of Asher failed to drive out the inhabitants of Sidon. This indicates something about the strength of that city. Sidon, however, frequently was destroyed by foreign invaders during the next several centuries. But it was rebuilt following each defeat and restored to a position of prominence.

Asher conducted itself worse than any of the other tribes, not only by leaving more towns than any of them in the hands of the Canaanites, but in submitting to the Canaanites instead of making them pay tribute. They dwelt among the Canaanites, as if the Canaanites were the more numerous and the more powerful, and like they were still the lords of the country, and they permitted the Israelites to live among them.

Asher was unable or unwilling to drive out the inhabitants of Accho (also known as Acre, north of Mount Carmel)—Zidon (the famous, the powerful Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast)—Ahlab (unknown)—Achzib (about ten miles north of Accho)—Helbah (Mahalliba, northeast of Tyre)—Aphik (Tell Kurdaneh, south of Accho)—Rehob (Tell Berweh). Even in the time of David and Solomon the Israelites never conquered Phoenicia, but were able to maintain friendly relationships with them. It is most likely that it was from them that they borrowed the concept of the alphabet.

Article 1.8: ASHER, TRIBE OF
Ash´er, A´ser (blessed), the eighth son of Jacob, by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, Gen. 30:13. (b.c. 1753.) The general position of his tribe was on the seashore from Carmel northward, with Manasseh on the south, Zebulun and Issachar on the southeast, and Naphtali on the northeast. Josh. 19:24-31; 17:10, 11 and Judges 1:31, 32. They possessed the maritime portion of the rich plain of Esdraelon, probably for a distance of 8 or 10 miles from the shore. This territory contained some of the richest soil in all Palestine.
The Asherites never succeeded in expelling the inhabitants of the Phoenician strongholds—such as Tyre, Sidon, and Acco (Judg. 1:31–32)—which were in their territory.

These Canaanite cities that successfully resisted Asher formed a line of opposition across their territory:

Accho ACK coe (“compressed”), alternate spelling acco. A town on the coast of Palestine about 40 km. (25 mi.) south of Tyre and about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Mount Carmel, apportioned to the tribe of Asher; also called Ptolemais in Acts 21: 7. Situated on the north shore of a broad bay, Accho was at the entrance to the rich, fertile plain of Jezreel. Although Accho was located in the portion of land assigned to the tribe of Asher, the Hebrews were never able to drive out the original Canaanite inhabitants.

Accho was mentioned in the Amarna letters of the 14th-century b.c. In the Hellenistic period, the name was changed to Ptolemais. It came under Roman domination in 65 b.c.

Accho is mentioned only once in the New Testament and then as Ptolemais, the name coming from Ptolemy, the king of Egypt who rebuilt the city. Sailing from Tyre to Caesarea at the end of his third missionary journey, the apostle Paul docked at Ptolemais and spent the day with his fellow Christians while his ship was anchored in the harbor.

During the Crusades, Ptolemais recaptured some of its former prominence under the name Acre, by which name it is still known today. Its importance has once again waned, being overshadowed by the city of Haifa, which lies directly across the bay.
Zidon (Zi´don, or Si´don), Gen. 10: 15, 19; Josh. 11:8; 19:28; Judges 1:31; 18:28; Isa. 23:2, 4, 12; Jer. 25:22; 27:3; Ezek. 28:21–22; Joel 3:4 (4:4); Zech. 9:2; Matt. 11:21–22; 15:21; Mark 3:8; 7:24, 31; Luke 6:17; 10:13–14, an ancient and wealthy city of Phœnicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, less than twenty English miles to the north of Tyre. Its Hebrew name, Tsı̂dôn, signifies fishing or fishery. Its modern name is Saida. It is situated in the narrow plain between Lebanon and the sea. From a biblical point of view this city is inferior in interest to its neighbor Tyre; though in early times Sidon was the more influential of the two cities. This view is confirmed by Zidonians being used as the generic name of Phœnicians or Canaanites. 3Josh. 13:6; 4Judges 18:7. From the time of Solomon to the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar Zidon is not often directly mentioned in the Bible, and it appears to have been subordinate to Tyre. When the people called “Zidonians” are mentioned, it sometimes seems that the Phœnicians of the plain of Zidon are meant. 1 Kings 5:6 ; 11:1, 5, 33; 16:31; 2 Kings 23:13. All that is known respecting the city is very scanty, amounting to scarcely more than that one of its sources of gain was trade in slaves, in which the inhabitants did not shrink from selling inhabitants of Palestine, and that it was governed by kings. 5Jer. 25:22; 627:3. During the Persian domination, Zidon seems to have attained its highest point of prosperity; and it is recorded that, toward the close of that period, it far excelled all other Phœnician cities in wealth and importance. Its prosperity was suddenly cut short by an unsuccessful revolt against Persia, which ended in the destruction of the town, b.c. 351. Its king, Tennes, had proved a traitor and betrayed the city to Ochus, king of the Persians; the Persian troops were admitted within the gates, and occupied the city walls. The Zidonians, before the arrival of Ochus, had burnt their vessels to prevent any one’s leaving the town; and when they saw themselves surrounded by the Persian troops, they adopted the desperate resolution of shutting themselves up with their families, and setting fire each man to his own house. Forty thousand persons are said to have perished in the flames. Zidon, however, gradually recovered from the blow, and became again a flourishing town. It is about fifty miles distant from Nazareth, and is the most northern city which is mentioned in connection with Christ’s journeys. (The town Saida still shows signs of its former wealth, and its houses are better constructed and more solid than those of Tyre, many of them being built of stone; but is a poor, miserable place, without trade or manufactures worthy of the name. The city that once divided with Tyre the empire of the seas is now almost without a vessel. Silk and fruit are its staple products. Its population is estimated at 10,000, 7000 of whom are Moslems, and the rest Catholics, Maronites, and Protestants.—McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia. There is a flourishing Protestant mission here.—Ed.)

Ahlab A lub (“fertile”), a town assigned to Asher, but never captured from the Canaanites; its probable location is about 6 km. (4 mi.) northeast of Tyre.

AchzibACK zib (falsehood) the name of two towns in Israel:
1. A town in the Shephelah, the lowland of western Judah 7(Josh. 15:44), probably the same town as Chezib 8(Gen. 38:5) and Chozeba 9(1 Chr. 4:22).
2. A town in western Galilee, on the Mediterranean Sea near the border of ancient Phoenicia 10(Josh. 19:29; 11Judg. 1:31). Identified as modern ez–Zib, Achzib was located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Acre.

HelbahHEL buh (fertile) A town of the tribe of Asher probably on the plain of
Phœnicia, not far from Sidon.

Aphek Aphik (“strength”). Probably the same place as Aphik A town assigned to the tribe of Asher but never captured from the Canaanites; located just southeast of Acco 12(Josh. 19:30) and forms the extreme north “border of the Amorites,” identified with the Aphaca of classical times, and Afka in modern times.

RehobREE hahb (open space). A city in the territory of Asher, near Sidon 13(Josh. 19:28).

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