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Bible Commentaries
Judges 10

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1

TOLA AND JAIR, Judges 10:1-5.

1. There arose In the providence of God.

To defend Rather, to save Israel. No particular acts of Tola are recorded, but only the general statement (Judges 10:2) that he judged Israel twenty three years. Hence it has been a question among the commentators, How did Tola save Israel?

There is no record of any new oppressions, or of any special dangers. But the chief difficulty comes from assuming that there was no sense in which he might have saved Israel unless they had been in bondage to some foreign foe. He might have saved them from civil discords and fearful feuds by his wise and prudent judgments. He may have saved them from foreign invasions by a timely and prudent caution. We should also remember that the silence of Scripture respecting an individual is not sufficent ground for assuming that he did no mighty works. Tola was raised up to defend Israel; that is, for the purpose of defending or saving them in case any difficulty or danger came; and perhaps an important part of his labour was to save or reclaim the people from the idolatry into which they had fallen after the death of Gideon.

A man of Issachar One of that tribe by birth.

Dwelt in Shamir The site of Shamir has not been satisfactorily identified. “It is singular that this judge, a man of Issachar, should have taken up his official residence out of his own tribe. We may account for it by supposing that the Plain of Esdraelon, which formed the greater part of the territory of Issachar, was overrun, as in Gideon’s time, by the Canaanites or other marauders, of whose incursions nothing whatever is told us, (though their existence is certain,) driving Tola to the more secure mountains of Ephraim. Or, as Manasseh had certain cities out of Issachar allotted to him, so Issachar, on the other hand, may have possessed some towns in the mountains of Ephraim.” Grove, in Smith’s Bib. Dict. Others have supposed that at this city in the mountains of Ephraim he was more accessible to the various tribes, and could thus more conveniently judge Israel.

Verse 3

3. Jair, a Gileadite That is, a native or resident of Gilead, the mountainous country east of the Jordan. On the silence of Scripture respecting the particulars of his life the same may be said as of Tola, in Judges 10:1.

Verse 4

4. Thirty sons… thirty ass colts… thirty cities These facts are mentioned to show the power, dignity, and wealth of the house of Jair.

Havoth-jair That is, villages of Jair. These villages, possessed by Jair’s sons, were called after their father’s name even at the time when the Book of Judges was written. They probably comprised the same “towns” which Jair, the son of Manasseh, took in the days of Moses, (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14,) and called by this very name. Their number may have been increased so as to furnish one for each of the thirty sons of this Gileadite judge. This name was not now given them for the first time, but was a bringing into use again of an old name which had, perhaps, become partially forgotten.

Verse 5

5. Camon This was, probably, one of the thirty cities mentioned above, but its exact situation is now unknown. Possibly it is represented by the modern Reimun, a few miles northwest of Jerash. Though little is said of Tola and Jair’s life, the fact of their death and the place of their burial are carefully noted.

Verse 6


6. Did evil again This apostasy, as appears from what follows respecting the number of false gods they worshipped, was of a most aggravating character.

Baalim, and Ashtaroth See note on chap. Judges 2:13.

Gods of Syria These are nowhere in Scripture mentioned by name.

Gods of Zidon The peculiar forms of the Baal and Asherah worship as practiced among the Phenicians. Compare 1 Kings 11:33. This worship was, in its principles, common among several of the surrounding nations, but each nation seems to have given it some peculiar modification of its own.

Gods of Moab Among whom Chemosh was the principal deity. Numbers 21:29; 1 Kings 11:33.

Gods of… Ammon Particularly the abominable Moloch, the fire-god, to whom human sacrifices were offered. 1 Kings 11:7.

Gods of the Philistines Dagon, the fish-god. Compare chap. Judges 16:23. Here we have the mention of seven classes of gods to whose worship Israel had turned, thus filling up the measure of a sevenfold idolatry. This seems more execrable still when we compare with it the seven deliverances of Jehovah mentioned in Judges 10:11-12. They had seemed to choose a new idol for every deliverance.

Verse 7

7. Anger of the Lord Note, Judges 2:14.

Philistines… Ammon They had felt the oppression of these foes before, but had been graciously delivered. See on Judges 3:31.

Verse 8

8. Vexed and oppressed Literally, broken and crushed. Henry forcibly suggests that with the Philistines on one side and the Ammonites on the other, Israel was miserably crushed as between two millstones.

That year… eighteen years The oppression commenced that very year in which they were sold into the hands of their enemies, and continued eighteen years; not, as some say, that year completed eighteen years of oppression. The bitterness of the oppression was enhanced by the fact that it came not on gradually, but a breaking and crushing tyranny over them began with the very first year of their subjection.

Israel… on the other side Jordan So this oppression distressed especially the tribes east of the Jordan.

Land of the Amorites Which Israel had formerly taken from their king, Sihon. See at Numbers 21:21-32. “ Gilead, being a more precise epithet for the land of the Amorites, is here used in a wider sense to denote the whole of the country east of the Jordan, so far as it had been taken from the Amorites and occupied by the Israelites, as in Numbers 32:29; Joshua 22:9.” Keil.

Verse 10


10. Israel cried But it seems to have been only a half-hearted repentance. They did not put away their idols, and their confession was inspired by a terror of their enemies, not by a genuine abhorrence of idolatry and desire to return to the Lord. Not until after Jehovah refused to deliver them in that state did they thoroughly repent.

Verse 11

11. The Lord said How the Lord spake on this occasion we are not told, and the question can only be a subject of conjecture. Some have thought he spoke by a prophet; others, by some sublime theophany. Keil thinks the answer was given in front of the tabernacle at Shiloh, where the people had assembled to call on the Lord, and came either through the high priest, or by an inward voice which aroused in their consciences the memory of the Lord’s gracious acts and their ingratitude and apostasy.

From the Egyptians By all the miracles of the exodus from that house of bondage, minutely described in the first fourteen chapters of Exodus.

Amorites In the days of Moses. Numbers 21:21-32.

Ammon Who joined with Moab in the oppression from which Ehud delivered Israel. Judges 3:13.

Philistines In the days of Shamgar. Judges 3:31.

Verse 12

12. The Zidonians Who probably joined with Jabin and other northern Canaanites against Israel, but were defeated by Barak. Judges 5:19.

Amalekites From these ancient foes they had been repeatedly delivered in the days of Moses, and Ehud, and Gideon. Compare Exodus 17:13; Judges 3:13; Judges 6:3.

Maonites The Hebrew is Maon, but, like Amalek, it here denotes a people, not a place. We have no record elsewhere of any oppressors of Israel bearing this name; hence the Septuagint reads Midian, and this reading Ewald and Keil follow. It is urged that unless we adopt this reading no mention at all is made of the terrible oppression of Midian. But it may be replied, No mention is made of the Moabite oppression, which lasted eighteen years. Judges 3:14. The sacred writer does not profess to give an exhaustive history; but, true to the spirit of the Old Testament theocratic history, he selects just seven deliverances of Israel, in apparent allusion to the seven classes of false gods mentioned in Judges 10:6, where see note. In such an instance it is not ours to say what he ought to have written, and what omitted.

The Maonites may be included under “the children of the East,” chap. Judges 6:3. “Traces of the name Maon are found in several localities. It is given to a town in the south of Judah, (Joshua 15:55,) now identified with the ruins of Tell Main. It is given to the bleak and hilly pasture lands which extend away to the southward of the town of Maon. 1 Samuel 23:25. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 48:23) mentions Beth- meon, which may be the same as Beth-baal- meon of Joshua 13:17, and Baal- meon of Numbers 32:38, and would thus be identical with the ruins of Main, three miles south of Heshbon. Still another Maon is mentioned. 2 Chronicles 26:7. It is probable that all these names indicate the presence of an ancient and powerful nomad tribe, whose earliest settlements were in the vale of Sodom, and with the Amalekites who dwelt in the wilderness south of Palestine.”- Porter.

Verse 13

13. I will deliver you no more But it appears in the following history that he did deliver them, even again and again. Was God therefore false to his word? By no means. This, like all other similar declarations of Jehovah, is to be regarded as conditional. “This he tells them,” says Henry, “not only as what he might do, but as what he would do, if they rested in a mere confession of what they had done amiss, and did not put away their idols and amend for the future.” So it is always with the divine threatenings or promises. Both “the goodness and severity of God” are conditioned on the responsible actions of man. Note, Romans 11:22.

Verse 14

14. Cry unto the gods A bitter and taunting irony. Thus Divine Wisdom deals with the rebellious and profane. It laughs at their calamity and mocks when their fear cometh. Proverbs 1:26.

Verse 15

15. We have sinned Now their repentance becomes deeper and profounder. They had before (Judges 10:10) confessed their sins, but had not forsaken them. Now, brought into deep humiliation by the divine threat, (Judges 10:13.) they are ready to do or receive whatsoever seemeth good unto Jehovah.

Verse 16

16. Put away the strange gods They no longer repented in words only, by a mere confession of their guilt, but proceeded to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance. So in every genuine conversion there must be added to confession an earnest revolt and turning away from the old sins.

His soul was grieved Literally, was shortened; that is, thrilled with the most intense emotions of distress and anxiety. Compare the similar sense of the verb קצר , in Judges 16:16; Numbers 21:4; Job 21:4; Zechariah 11:8. This text shows that Jehovah’s nature is profoundly emotional, which fact, instead of detracting from our reverence of him, should serve to give us a more affecting view of the divine character. See notes on Judges 2:14; Judges 2:18, and 1 Samuel 15:11.

Verse 17

PREPARATIONS FOR WAR, Judges 10:17-18.

These two verses serve as an introduction to the history of Jephthah, and ought not to have been separated from it by a division of chapters. Chapter 11 should have begun here.

17. Were gathered together Literally, let themselves be called together. Clarke’s rendering, they cried against Israel, is not allowable.

Gilead The mountainous tract of country on the east of the Jordan, extending from the northern end of the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee. In what particular part of this region the Ammonites encamped is not said, but probably at the southern base of Mount Gilead, (Jebel Osha,) or between that place and Rabbah, their capital. This whole region was wrested from the Ammonites and ruled by Jephthah. See map, page 234.

Mizpeh Probably identical with Mizpeh of Gilead, (Judges 2:29,) and the Ramoth-mizpeh of Joshua 13:26, near or at the modern es-Salt. It was the great gathering place of the Israelites east of the Jordan. “About three miles northwest of es-Salt is the highest peak east of the Jordan, commanding one of the widest and most interesting views in the country.

Its top is broad and flat, and would form a fine gathering place for a nation of warriors. On its northern shape is an ancient ruin called Jiliad. It is probable that this is the true site of Mizpeh of Gilead, the gathering-place of the eastern tribes. Mizpeh was situated close to the frontier of the Ammonites, and apparently near their capital, Rabbath, (Judges 11:29;) consequently it must have been on the south side of the Jabbok, and could not have been identical, as some have thought, with the Mizpeh where Jacob and Laban met. Genesis 31:49.” Porter.

Verse 18

18. The people and princes of Gilead The English version adds and, but it should be omitted. Princes is in apposition with people. The people spoke on this occasion in the persons of their representatives, the princes or chief men. The people of Gilead here means the Israelitish tribes that dwelt in Gilead.

What man is he The object of Israel’s gathering at Mizpeh evidently was to choose a leader, and to prepare to defend themselves against their oppressors. The gathering of the Ammonites in Gilead (Judges 10:17) prompted to this. Far down the slopes of Gilead, plainly visible from Mizpeh, were the camps of the enemy, all ready, apparently, to proceed to battle. That gathering of the hated foe seemed ominous of further oppressions and woes, and, exasperated over past and present afflictions, they resolved to fight against the children of Ammon. The result of that conflict is brought out in the next chapter.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Judges 10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/judges-10.html. 1874-1909.
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