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Bible Commentaries
Judges 10

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-5

Judges - Chapter 10

Tola and Jair, vs. 1-5

Two men served Israel as judges after the tyrannical rule of Abimelech. Together they judged Israel a total of forty-five years, but very little is known of them. The Lord raised them up for His wise purpose, but did not see fit to reveal the particulars of their judgeship. Tola was of the western tribe of Issachar, but he lived in Shamir, a town in mount Ephraim. Nothing more is known of him than what is recorded here. Even his town has never been identified.

The other judge was Jair, a Gileadite, meaning that he lived in the eastern portion of the tribe of Manasseh, the part of Gilead assigned to the half tribe of Manasseh. Jair must have been a very prominent and wealthy citizen of Gilead. He had thirty sons who lived royally, it seems. They had each his special mount, and their father made each one ruler of a city in Gilead. They and their cities are the most prominent and remembered event of Jair’s judgeship, for the cities continued to be called Havoth-lair (cities of Jair) after his death. The location of Camon, the burial place of Jair is uncertain today.

Verses 6-9

Double Servitude, vs. 6-9

The present passage indicates that the Israelites largely had become polytheistic in worship more than ever before. The Lord was utterly forsaken by most, and the condition of the people was called evil in the sight of the Lord. They went back to the Baal gods and Astarte goddesses they were serving when the Lord allowed Midian to oppress them, and from whom they had been delivered in the time of Gideon. this time they were worshiping the gods of every country around them. There were the Syrians on the north, Zidon on the northwest, Moab on the southeast, Ammon on the east, and the Philistines on the west. The only nation bordering them not mentioned is Edom.

In His anger at their apostasy and His judgment for it the Lord sent a double servitude, allowing them to be oppressed from east and west at the same time. They were shattered and crushed between their oppressors the first year, and the condition continued for eighteen full years. Particularly was the oppression of Ammon severe. These people were in the east, and the two and a half tribes there especially suffered, but the Ammonites boldly crossed over the Jordan and oppressed the western tribes also. Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim, which lay closest to the river were objects of the Ammonite invasion.

Verses 10-18

God’s Repudiation of Israel, vs. 10-18

It seems the children of Israel had become like a lot of spoiled children, getting into trouble with the expectation a longsuffering parent will bail them out over and over. So they went through the formality again. They said, "We have sinned" by first forsaking the Lord and then serving the Baal gods. One cannot serve the gods without first forsaking the Lord. It is like they were saying, "All right, God, we sinned, and we really forsook you. Now get us out of our predicament."

But the Lord’s answer this time was not to raise up at once a judge to deliver them. He had delivered them from seven nations, whom He names, only to have them retract their repentant claims. It is interesting to note that there is no record of the Lord’s deliverance of Israel, other than this claim of the Lord here, from some of these nations. This shows that the Lord delivered them on numerous occasions which are not recorded in the Bible.

For instance there is no account of His deliverance of them from the Zidonians and the Maonites. The Zidonians were Phoenicians, the Maonites a desert people. So the Lord tells them not to cry to Him now that they have forsaken Him, but to go and cry to the many gods they had chose over Him. In fact He said He would not deliver them any more.

Now, however, the Israelites got in earnest about repenting to the Lord. They admitted their sin and that they deserved judgment. They were willing for the Lord to administer whatever judgment was required if only He would deliver them. To show their sincerity they actually put away their pagan gods and turned back to serving the Lord. Upon this a very wonderful thing is said of the Lord; He was grieved for their misery. The Lord looked on Israel and saw how miserable and truly sorry they were for their apostasy, and His divine heart was touched for them, (See Matthew 23:37-39). When this occurs the Lord will always come to the aid of His people. this is the thing that awaits Israel’s conversion in the last days.

Things now began to shape up for the Lord to deliver them. The Ammonites gathered their army and came into Gilead, across the Jordan in the half tribe of Manasseh. The Israelites rallied their forces at Mizpeh, one of a least six places, called Mizpeh or Mizpah in the Bible. This one is evidently the earliest mentioned in the Bible, where Jacob made a covenant and parted from his father-in-law, Laban, when he was returning to Canaan (Genesis 31:43 ff). But the Israelites had no leader, no judge, yet. They began to inquire who they could get to be their head to deliver them from the Ammonites.

Let us note 1) One does not have to be famous and renowned to be used of the Lord; 2) wholesale departure from the Lord will result in severest chastisement of the Lord’s people; 3) the Lord grieves for His people when their sins get them in a place of great suffering.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Judges 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/judges-10.html. 1985.
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