Bible Commentary: Judges 10

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Judges 10

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Tola, Jair and the Ammonite Oppression 

After the reign of Abimelech, which does not appear to have included much territory other than Shechem and its surrounding villages, Tola judged Israel and worked some kind of deliverance, although we do not know against whom. He judged 23 years.

Following Tola, Jair judged 22 years. His 30 sons were noblemen and rulers of as many cities in Gilead, thus indicating that Jair had a rather large administrative apparatus, which exercised significant influence in Gilead and probably further afield. Since no mention is made of a deliverance made by Jair, it appears that he continued the era of peace produced by Tola.

The 45 years of peace and relative fidelity to God were shattered upon the death of Jair. Israel ran wholeheartedly back into idolatry, embracing the gods of not just the Canaanites, but also of the Syrians, Sidonians, Moabites, Ammonites and Philistines. And so, for 18 years God sold His people into the hands of foreigners—the Philistines and Ammonites, two of the very peoples whose gods Israel adopted. From the catalog of pagan gods, and the scanty notes of the Ammonite invasion into the territories of Ephraim and Benjamin, it would appear that the greater part of the oppression fell on the tribes east of Jordan, and that the Ammonite invasion might have been a coordinated effort with the Philistines to divide Israel down the middle.

When the 18 years elapsed, Israel came to its senses and, for the first time, the cause of their misery is actually stated by them in the account—their rejection of God and attachment to the Baals. But when they cried out to God, He rejected their pleas and told them He would not save them. Nevertheless, Israel repented and served God. Eventually, God could no longer endure the misery of Israel.

Ammon gathered in Mizpah, and Israel met them. But who would deliver Israel?