Castle. There are extensive coal-mines in the neighbouring district, as at Moira, whence the Ashby-de-la-Zouch canal runs south to the Coventry canal.
A-SHE-HO (Manch. Alchuku), a town of Manchuria, China, 125 m. N.E. of Kirin, and 30 m. S. of the Sungari. It is governed by a mandarin of the second class. Pop. about 60,000.
ASHER, a tribe of Israel, called after the son of Jacob and Zilpah, Leah’s maid. The name is taken by the narrator of Gen. xxx. 12 seq. (J) to mean happy or propitious, possibly an allusion to the fertility of the tribe’s territory (with which cf. Gen. xlix. 20, Deut. xxxiii. 24); on the other hand, like Gad, it may have been originally a divine title. The district held by this tribe bordered upon Naphtali, and lay to the north of Issachar and Zebulun, and to the south of Dan. But the boundaries are not definite and the references to its territory are obscure. Asher is blamed for taking no part in the fight against Sisera (Judg. v. 17), and although it shares with Zebulun and Naphtali in Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites (Judg. vi. 35, vii. 23), the narrative in question is not the older of the two accounts of the event, and the incorporation of the name is probably due to a late redactor. Lying as it did in the closest proximity to Phoenicians and Aramaeans, its population must have been exceptionally mixed, and the description of the occupation of Palestine in Judg. i. 31 seq. shows that it contained a strong Canaanite element. In the Blessing of Moses it is bidden to defend itself—evidently against invasion (Deut. xxxiii. 25).
Even in the time of Seti I. and Rameses II. (latter half of 14th cent. B.C.) the district to the west of Galilee appears to have been known to the Egyptians as Aser(u), so that it is possible to infer either (a) that Asher was an Israelite tribe which, if it ever went down into Egypt, separated itself from its brethren in Egypt and migrated north, “an example which was probably followed by some of the other tribes as well” (Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition, p. 228); or (b) it was a district which, if never closely bound to Israel, was at least regarded as part of the national kingdom, and treated as Israelite by the genealogical device of making it a “son” of Jacob. It is possible that some of its Israelite population had followed the example of Dan and moved from an earlier home in the south. Two of the clans of Asher, Heber and Malchiel, have been associated with Milk-ili and Habiri, the names of a hostile chief and people in the Amarna Tablets (Jastrow, Journal Bibl. Lit. xi. pp. 118 seq., xii. pp. 61 seq., Hommel), but it is scarcely probable that events of about 1400 B.C. should have survived only in this form. This applies also to the suggestion that the name Asher has been derived from a famous Abd-ashirta of the same period (Barton, ib. xv. p. 174). Some connexion with the goddess Ashir(t)a, however, is not unlikely.
(S. A. C.)
’ASHER BEN YEHIEL (known as Rosh), Jewish rabbi and codifier, was born in the Rhine district c. 1250, and died in Toledo 1327. Endangered by the persecutions inflicted on the German Jews in the 13th century, ’Asher fled to Spain, where he was made rabbi of Toledo. His enforced exile impoverished him, and from this date begins an important change in the status of medieval rabbis. Before the 14th century, rabbis had obtained a livelihood by the exercise of some secular profession, particularly medicine, and received no salary for performing the rabbinic function. This was now changed. A disciple of Meir of Rothenburg, ‘Asher’s sole interest was in the Talmud. He was a man of austere piety, profound and narrow. He was a determined opponent of the study of philosophy, and thus was antipathetic to the Spanish spirit. The Jews of Spain continued, nevertheless, devotees of secular sciences as well as of rabbinical lore. ’Asher was the first of the German rabbis to display strong talent for systematization, and his chief work partook of the nature of a compendium of the Talmud. Compiled between 1307 and 1314, ’Asher’s Compendium resembled, and to a large extent superseded, the work of ’Al-phasi (q.v.). ’Asher’s Compendium is printed in most editions of the Talmud, and it differed from previous Compendia in greater simplicity and in the deference shown to German authorities. ’Asher’s son Jacob, who died at Toledo before 1340, was the author of the four Turim, a very profound and popular codification of rabbinical law. This work was the standard code until Joseph Qaro directly based on it his widely accepted Code of Jewish law, the Shulḥan ‘Arukh. (I. A.)
ASHEVILLE, a city and the county-seat of Buncombe county, North Carolina, U.S.A., in the mountainous Blue Ridge region in the west part of the state, about 210 m. W. of Raleigh. Pop. (1890) 10,235; (1900) 14,694, of whom 4724 were negroes; (1910, census) 18,762. Asheville is situated at the junction of three branches of the Southern railway, on a high terrace on the east bank of the French Broad river, at the mouth of the Swannanoa, about 2300 ft. above the sea. The city is best known as one of the most popular health and pleasure resorts in the south, being a summer resort for southerners and a winter resort for northerners. It has a dry and equable climate and beautiful scenery. Among its social clubs are the Albemarle, the Asheville, the Elks, the Tahkeeostee and the Swannanoa Country clubs. An extensive system of city and suburban parks, connected by a series of beautiful drives, adds to the city’s attractiveness. There are great forests in the vicinity. Among the public buildings are the city hall, the court house, the Federal building, the public library and an auditorium. In or near Asheville are a normal and collegiate institute for young women (1892), and, occupying the same campus, a home industrial school (1887) for girls, both under the control of the Woman’s Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church; the Asheville farm school for boys, an industrial school for negroes; the Asheville school for boys (5 m. west of Asheville); and the Bingham school (1793), founded at Pittsboro, N.C., by William Bingham (d. 1826), and removed to its present site (3 m. north-west of Asheville) in 1891. About 2 m. south-east of the city is Biltmore, the estate of George W. Vanderbilt, its 125,000 acres constituting what is probably the finest country place in the United States. The central feature of the estate is a château (375 × 150 ft.) of French Renaissance design, after the famous château at Blois, France. In the neighbourhood is a model village, with an elementary school, an industrial school for whites, a hospital and a church, maintained by Mr Vanderbilt. Both the château and the village were designed by Richard M. Hunt; the landscape gardening was done by Frederick Law Olmsted. A collection of woody plants, one of the largest and finest in the world, and a broad forest and hunting preserve, known as Pisgah Forest (100,000 acres), are also maintained by the owner. Asheville is a market for live-stock, dairy products, lumber and fruits, and has various manufactories (in which a good water-power is utilized), including tanneries, cotton mills, brick and tile factories, and a wood-working and veneer plant. The value of the city’s factory products increased from $1,300,698 in 1900 to $1,918,362 in 1905, or 47.5%. The city was named in honour of Samuel Ashe (1725-1813), chief-justice of North Carolina from 1777 to 1796, and John Ashe (1720-1781), a North Carolina soldier who distinguished himself in the War of