JUDGES CHAPTER 10
Israel’s Further Apostasy and Punishment.
THE JUDGESHIP OF TOLA AND JAIR. — V. l. And after Abimelech there arose to defend, that is, to save, to deliver, Israel Tola, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in Mount Ephraim, in its northern ranges. V. 2. And he judged Israel twenty and three years, his work consisting chiefly in deciding difficult cases and in opposing every tendency of the people toward idolatry, whereby he also saved them from oppression by hostile nations; and died, and was buried in Shamir. V. 3. And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, a man whose home was in Gilead, on the east side of Jordan, and judged Israel twenty and two years. V. 4. And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair, the villages of Jair, from the original Jair, Deut. 3, 14, unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. The number of towns included in this designation was afterward increased to sixty. V. 5. And Jair died, and was buried in Camon, evidently one of the thirty cities referred to above. Although both Tola and Jair waged no wars for Israel, their rule was beneficial nevertheless, for they kept the worship of Jehovah before the nation.
THE OPPRESSION OF THE PHILISTINES AND AMORITES. — V. 6. And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, this being some fifty years after the death of Gideon, and served Baalim and Ashtaroth, the male and female deities of the Canaanites, whose service Gideon had overthrown, and the gods of Syria, or Aram, whose king had been defeated by Othniel, and the gods of Zidon, or Phenicia, and the gods of Moab, whom Ehud had smitten, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not Him, preferring, instead, Baal in his various forms, Ashtaroth, Astarte, Camos, Milcom, or Moldch, and Dagon, as the idols of these heathen were called. The service of these false gods was often connected with the most revolting immorality, the most unnatural rites, not the least of which was the sacrifice of children. V. 7. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, kindled to a consuming flame, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines, who oppressed them from the west, and into the hands of the children of Ammon, who made their raids from the east. V. 8. And that year, when the Lord first delivered Israel into their hands, they vexed and oppressed, broke and crushed, the children of Israel, but that was merely the beginning of the punishment; eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. So the two and one half tribes were the chief sufferers in this oppression at the hands of the children of Ammon. V. 9. Moreover, the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, the powerful tribe which had, till now, practically been spared, and against Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was sore distressed, powerless before the robbing of their harvests, the plundering of their villages, the exacting of tribute. V. 10. And the children of Israel, brought to their senses at last, cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against Thee, both because we have forsaken our God, whose worship naturally had fallen into decay, and also served Baalim. V. 11. And the Lord said unto the children of Israel, very likely through the high priest then in office, for their representatives had undoubtedly come to Shiloh to make their confession of guilt, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, Ex. 1-14, and from the Amorites, Num. 21, from the children of Ammon, chap. 3, 13, and from the Philistines, chap. 3, 31? V. 12. The Zidonians also, who were allies of Jabin, chap. 4, 2, and the Amalekites, Ex. 17, and the Maonites, who were allies of the Amalekites, did oppress you; and ye cried to Me, and I delivered you out of their hand. His kindness toward them had been untiring, His goodness unparalleled. V. 13. Yet ye have forsaken Me and served other gods; wherefore I will deliver you no more. Cp. Deut. 32, 37. 38. They had chosen their gods; let these gods help them; this was a just punishment. V. 14. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. If a person has repeatedly experienced God’s help and yet has time and again turned back to sin, God will finally refuse to hear his pleading. V. 15. And the children of Israel, truly repentant and fully conscious of their utter helplessness, said unto the Lord, We have sinned; do Thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto Thee, anything in the line of a direct punishment; deliver us only, we pray Thee, this day. V. 16. And they put away the strange gods, introduced among them by the strange, the heathen nations, from among them and served the Lord, thus giving evidence of their sincere repentance; and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel, literally, “it became too short,” the misery of the penitent people now lasted too long for Him, He no longer felt anger against them. V. 17. Then the children of Ammon were gathered together and encamped in Gilead, in the part of Gilead occupied by them. And the children of Israel, at least the tribes concerned in the present oppression, if not the entire nation, assembled themselves together and encamped in Mizpeh, that is, Ramoth in Gilead, some ten miles west of Jordan. V. 18. And the people and princes of Gilead, all the nobles and rulers of the tribes east of Jordan, together with all their hosts, said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon, the advantage being on the side of the aggressor? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead, not king, but leader, whom they would gladly follow as the man selected by God. God is rich in grace, patience, and mercy. He who seeks Him in earnest repentance is accepted by Him and delivered from all his afflictions.