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Judges Chapter Ten                            


Judges 10

Chapter Contents

Tola and Jair judge Israel. (1-5) The Philistines and Ammonites oppress Israel. (6-9) Israel's repentance. (10-18)

Commentary on Judges 10:1-5

(Read Judges 10:1-5)

Quiet and peaceable reigns, though the best to live in, yield least variety of matter to be spoken of. Such were the days of Tola and Jair. They were humble, active, and useful men, rulers appointed of God.

Commentary on Judges 10:6-9

(Read Judges 10:6-9)

Now the threatening was fulfilled, that the Israelites should have no power to stand before their enemies, Leviticus 26:17,37. By their evil ways and their evil doings they procured this to themselves.

Commentary on Judges 10:10-18

(Read Judges 10:10-18)

God is able to multiply men's punishments according to the numbers of their sins and idols. But there is hope when sinners cry to the Lord for help, and lament their ungodliness as well as their more open transgressions. It is necessary, in true repentance, that there be a full conviction that those things cannot help us which we have set in competition with God. They acknowledged what they deserved, yet prayed to God not to deal with them according to their deserts. We must submit to God's justice, with a hope in his mercy. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. As the disobedience and misery of a child are a grief to a tender father, so the provocations of God's people are a grief to him. From him mercy never can be sought in vain. Let then the trembling sinner, and the almost despairing backslider, cease from debating about God's secret purposes, or from expecting to find hope from former experiences. Let them cast themselves on the mercy of God our Saviour, humble themselves under his hand, seek deliverance from the powers of darkness, separate themselves from sin, and from occasions of it, use the means of grace diligently, and wait the Lord's time, and so they shall certainly rejoice in his mercy.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Judges


Judges 10

Verse 1

[1] And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim.

There arose — Not of himself, but raised by God, as the other Judges were.

To defend — Or, to save, which he did not by fighting against, and overthrowing their enemies, but by a prudent and pious government of them, whereby he kept them from sedition, oppression, and idolatry.

In Shamir — Which was in the very midst of the land.

Verse 3

[3] And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.

A Gileadite — Of Gilead beyond Jordan.

Verse 4

[4] And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.

And he had thirty sons — They were itinerant judges, who rode from place to place, as their father's deputies to administer justice.

Havoth-jair — These villages were called so before this time from another Jair, but the old name was revived and confirmed upon this occasion.

Verse 6

[6] And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.

Forsook the Lord — They grew worse and worse, and so ripened themselves for ruin. Before they worshipped God and idols together, now they forsake God, and wholly cleave to idols.

Verse 7

[7] And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.

Philistines, … — The one on the west, the other on the east; so they were molested on both sides.

Verse 8

[8] And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.

That year — Or, that year they had vexed and oppressed the children of Israel eighteen years - This was the eighteenth year from the beginning of that oppression. And these eighteen years are not to be reckoned from Jair's death, because that would enlarge the time of the judges beyond the just bounds; but from the fourth year of Jair's reign: so that the greatest part of Jair's reign was contemporary with this affliction. The case of Jair and Samson seem to be much alike. For as it is said of Samson, that he judged Israel in the days of the tyranny of the Philistines, twenty years, Judges 15:20, by which it is evident, that his judicature, and their dominion, were contemporary; the like is to be conceived of Jair, that he began to judge Israel, and endeavoured to reform religion, and purge out all abuses; but being unable to effect this through the backwardness of the, people, God would not enable him to deliver the people, but gave them up to this sad oppression; so that Jair could only determine differences amongst the Israelites, but could not deliver them from their enemies.

Verse 10

[10] And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.

And served also — Because not contented to add idols to thee, we have preferred them before thee.

Verse 11

[11] And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines?

The Lord said — Either by some prophet whom he raised and sent for this purpose: or by the high-priest, who was consulted in the case.

From the Amorites — Both Sihon and Og, and their people, and other kings of the Amorites within Jordan.

Of Ammon — Who were confederate with the Moabites, Judges 3:13,14.

Verse 12

[12] The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand.

The Zidonians — We do not read of any oppression of Israel, particularly, by the Zidonians. But many things were done, which are not recorded.

The Maonites — Either first, those who lived in, or near the wilderness of Maon, in the south of Judah, 1 Samuel 23:25; 25:2, whether Edomites or others. Or, secondly, the Mehunims, a people living near the Arabians, of whom, 2 Chronicles 26:7. For in the Hebrew, the letters of both names are the same, only the one is the singular, the other the plural number.

Verse 13

[13] Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.

No more — Except you repent in another manner than you yet have done; which when they performed, God suspended the execution of this threatning.

Verse 14

[14] Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.

Chosen — You have not been forced to worship those gods by your oppressors; but you have freely chosen them before me.

Verse 15

[15] And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.

Do thou unto us — Do not give us up into the hands of these cruel men, but do thou chastise us with thine own hand as much as thou pleasest; if we be not more faithful and constant to thee, than we have hitherto been.

Verse 16

[16] And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.

They put away — This was an evidence of the sincerity of their sorrow, that they did not only confess their sins, but also forsake them.

His soul, … — He acted towards them, like one that felt their sufferings; he had pity upon them, quite changed his carriage towards them, and punished their enemies as sorely as if they had grieved and injured his own person.

Verse 17

[17] Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.

Mizpeh — That Mizpeh which was beyond Jordan.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Judges


10 Chapter 10


Verse 14

Judges 10:14

Cry unto the gods which ye have chosen.

Man in trouble crying to his god

I. Every sinner is destined to meet with trouble. Personal afflictions; social bereavements; death.

II. in great trouble he instinctively cries to his god.

1. Every man has a god.

2. Every man’s god ought to be able to help him when help is needed.

III. No god can help him in trouble but the true one. (Homilist.)

No help in trouble save from God

Travellers tell us that they who are at the top of the Alps can see great showers of rain fall under them, but not a drop of it falls on them. They who have God for their portion are in a high tower, and thereby safe from all troubles and showers. A drift rain of evil will beat in at the creature’s windows, be they never so well pointed: all the garments this world can make up cannot keep them that travel in such weather from being wet to the skin. No creature is able to bear the weight of its fellow-creature, but as reeds break under, and as thorns run into the sides that lean on them. The bow drawn beyond its compass breaks in sunder, and the string wound above its strength snaps in pieces. Such are outward helps to all that trust to them in hardships. (G. Swinnock.)

Helpless gods

It is a most grievous casting them in the teeth, by an ironical mocking of them with their idolatry, as if he should say, “Now ye prove and see what your gods can do.” As Elias did the like to the prophets of Baal. Therefore by thus speaking, and bidding them go seek help at their idols’ hands, they having shaken off the Lord, he teacheth us that they whom we have served, and committed ourselves to, must pay us our wages, and to them the Lord justly doth and will send us to their patronage in our greatest need, even to our horror, yea, destruction, if He take us not, as He did these here, to His mercy. They therefore that have trusted, and still do in man, and have made flesh their arm, shall know by experience one day that they have trusted to a bruised reed. Briefly to conclude this doctrine with some other uses thereof, we see secondly by this that God doth import no less than that (by the law of like equity, and by virtue of a far stronger covenant) if this people had persisted faithful in His service He could not have denied their suit for help and defence against their enemies. Thirdly, these words note out this, that it is wisdom for a man to bestow his chief cost there whence he looks for best recompense and acknowledgment in the time of most need. A man is not ashamed of that labour which hath brought him in plentiful gain, but of that which answers not his cost and hope. Men that have run themselves out of breath all their life, groping after a blind happiness, in their unprofitable, superstitious, profane course, at length, seeing themselves deceived, wish they had served a Master who might have saved them and received them into everlasting habitations. Thus the Lord is fain to upbraid men (though not by word, saying, “Go to your idols,” yet in effect, in that He leaveth them shiftless), or else who should persuade one of a hundred that he soweth among thorns, or loseth his labour and cost, when he casteth it and himself away upon idols? (R. Rogers.)

The misery of forsaking God

I know not how anything can be imagined more sublime, more edifying, or more truly affecting than the delineations of the moral character of the Almighty Governor of the universe, afforded us by Scripture. Immensity of power, combined with the most unrestricted condescension to the wants of the meanest of His creatures; and purity, which charges the very heavens with comparative uncleanness, united with plenitude of compassion. Perhaps, however, there is no passage in the book of the Old Testament more completely to this purpose than the text. Now, be it remembered, that a correct theory of the Divine Being, and sound views of practical morality, are as closely connected with each other as cause and effect. All real morality being the adaptation of our actions to some authentic first rule, and that rule being the presumed will of the great Being who has an undisputed claim to our obedience, it follows as a matter of course that, in order that our standard of morals should be high, our notions of Him to whose approbation that standard is referable should be high in a like proportion. We might as well expect the subsequent course of a stream to be more elevated than its fountain as imagine holy and perfect actions to proceed from belief in an imperfect or impure deity. This con- sideration will at once show us that spiritual debasement is a necessary result of false worship; and will point out the fallaciousness of that favourite assertion of the unbeliever, that accuracy of our abstract notions respecting the Deity is of no consequence provided our practical theory of morality be correct, And now, then, by this infallible test let us try the Christian revelation, comparing it with all that the most plausible surmises of pagan philosophy, or of modern infidelity, have at any time suggested in opposition or rivalry to it. The more substantial theories of paganism on this subject lie in very small compass. It is true that the better disposed heathens in all ages have, from an instinctive feeling of religion, been ready to admit the occasional intervention of Providence with the affairs of mankind, and something like a general system of rewards and punishments, having reference to the morality of human actions. These opinions, however, so far as they went, were, I believe, on all such occasions, rather the spontaneous suggestion of the moral feeling within them, acting against theory, than the result of any deliberate assent of the understanding, founded upon rational inquiry. In fact, I know only of two views of the great question, “What is God?” or, “What is the great moral sanction for the guidance of man’s actions?” as taken up after mature deliberation by the philosophers of antiquity, which can lay claim to the character of a regular system; the one is that adopted by the Stoics, which pronounces virtue to be so intrinsically lovely in itself as, under all external circumstances, to prove its own reward; the other, that which, though not formally avowed, would, if strictly reasoned out, necessarily result from the principles of the Peripatetics, which, considering the Creator of the universe as the summit of all possible perfection, would represent Him as eternally wrapt up in the contemplation of His own transcendental nature, and consequently indifferent to the vicissitudes which may befall inferior beings. Now it is obvious that both these views, either if entertained as physically true, as affording a substantial first principle of religious morality, are quite unsatisfactory and inoperative. Strange, then, as the proposition may sound in the ears of those who have not been accustomed to consider the doctrines of paganism in all their strictness and in all their consequences, it is undoubtedly true that the belief in a Being at once all perfect in His own nature, and yet at the same time watchfully attentive to all that passes in the creation beneath Him, is the result of revelation only. Our natural reason not only never could have arrived at such a conclusion, but in fact, at the first blush of the question, it absolutely recoils from it. Can God really regard, not merely perishable man, but even the very worms that creep at our feet? Our first impulse, when we consider the presumed impassiveness of its nature, is to say, “Certainly not.” How can He be at once complete in His own perfection and happiness and accessible to prayer; or, in other words, liable to be influenced by causes external to Himself? Our natural reason is quite unequal to the solution of this difficulty. It is only, I repeat, when we reflect how entirely the whole sum and substance of religion, the elevation of our souls, the establishment of all morality, and the consequent entire welfare of society turn upon this very doctrine, that we learn how much more complete is the revealed wisdom which is from heaven than that which it is given to unassisted man to find out. The question is, not what God might have done, but what He actually has done. The infidel may try to get rid of the difficulty by turning the whole discussion into ridicule, and attempting to show that human life, and all connected with it, is merely like a feverish dream or an ill-told tale without object or connection. The worldly man may assert that, after all that may be said against it, life is still a state of tolerable ease and comfort, and contented with living like the brutes, may think it unnecessary to inquire further; or the more stern philosopher, arguing upon the principles of the ancient Stoics, may assert, contrary to self-evident fact, that life in reality possesses no evil for the truly wise, and that the theory of a future state is not necessary for the vindication of the ways of Providence. But meanwhile the really painful circumstances of our existence will make themselves felt, whether we will or not; and, if we would explain them in a manner satisfactory to our highest notions of God’s goodness, we must have recourse to our Bible. I do not, indeed, say that even in our Bibles we shall find all our difficulties removed. Very far from it; but I do say, that the Bible presupposes the existence of all these very difficulties; that the theory of the Bible would be false did we not find the world precisely what we do find it; and that the great object of the Bible is to show how this very state of things (the great stumbling-block of every other form of religious belief) is part and parcel of the Divine arrangements for the accomplishment of God’s wise and beneficent purposes. Let us pass on to the inferences resulting from these momentous facts. Consider, then, in what a new position, with respect to everything around us, we are all of us placed by this circumstance of the intimate, and almost social, connection which revelation thus declares to exist between ourselves arid our Maker. What a vast interest is communicated to the whole tenor of our existence when we recollect that we are not, as heathen speculation would teach us, placed as in a dreary moral solitude, withdrawn from the superintendence of the Divine mind, who has other and better occupations than to trouble Himself with the details of our sorrows or of our pleasures, of our good or of our bad actions; but that we subsist day and night under His all-searching eye; that not a thought passes through our breasts, not a word escapes our lips, but is pregnant with the consequences of our future weal or woe; that every apparent blessing, every seeming evil with which we are visited, has its peculiar errand and object, viz., the disciplining of our hearts, and the preparing us for immortality! (Bp. Shuttleworth.)

──The Biblical Illustrator