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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Judges 10

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Two Minor Judges and More Oppression

A. Two "minor" judges.

1. (Jdg 10:1-2) Tola.

After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years; and he died and was buried in Shamir.

a. There arose to save Israel Tola: We are not told much about the career of the judge Tola; only that his service as a judge lasted a relatively long time (twenty-three years).

2. (Jdg 10:3-5) Jair.

After him arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called "Havoth Jair" to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Camon.

a. After him arose Jair: We also know little about Jair's service as a leader of Israel. We do know that he served for about the same number of years as Tola before him (twenty-two years).

b. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns: This shows that Jair was a polygamous man, and a man of wealth and prestige. His many sons had fancy transportation and their own territory to rule. Jair never took the title of "king," but it seems that he acted like one.

B. Apostasy, servitude and supplication.

1. (Jdg 10:6) Israel's seven-fold apostasy.

Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.

a. Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD: This phrase is repeated seven times in the Book of Judges. It shows that the evil of Israel was even worse because they did it before the eyes of God. We could say that it is bad to commit adultery, but it is far more offensive to commit adultery before the eyes of your spouse.

b. And served the Baals and the Ashtoreths: The essence of Israel's sin was that they served other gods. Here, seven different ethnic and national gods are mentioned that Israel went after.

i. Israel was attracted to these other gods not because of the beauty of an idol image, but because of what was associated with the pagan deity. Baal, the weather god, was associated with financial success. Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility, was associated with love, sex, and romance. As for the other gods of the neighboring nations around them, it was a matter of "going with the flow" and doing what everyone else did.

ii. Israel's worship of neighboring gods reminds us that the people of God are often in danger of worshipping what the world worships.

c. They forsook the LORD and did not serve Him: Perhaps Israel did not consciously forsake God. Yet adding the worship of pagan gods to the worship of the true God was to forsake the LORD. It seems that Israel was willing to worship just about anything except the true God. When a man stops believing in God, he does not believe in nothing; he believes in anything.

2. (Jdg 10:7-9) Israel's servitude.

So 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 people of Ammon. From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years; all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed.

a. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon: If Israel wanted to serve the gods of the Philistines and the Amorites, God would allow them. He allowed them in the fullest sense, by selling them into servitude to the Philistines and Amorites.

b. They harassed and oppressed the children of Israel: Of course, Israel was never blessed when they served these other gods. Instead, they were harassed and oppressed; they were severely distressed - but God gave them what they wanted.

3. (Jdg 10:10-14) Israel calls to the LORD God's response to Israel.

And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!" So the LORD said to the children of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress."

a. Therefore I will deliver you no more: God was harsh with Israel because they had to be genuinely sick of their sin before they would genuinely turn to God. God allowed Israel to experience the sickness of their sin.

i. One technique used to help people stop smoking is to put them in a small, unventilated room and make them smoke for hours on end, until they can hardly bear it. It makes them sick of smoking, and makes them truly want to stop. In the same way, sometimes God will allow the natural consequences of our sin to crash upon us in concentrated form, so we can become sick of our sin.

b. We have sinned against You: The words of this cry seem fine, but God's response seems to indicate that He saw something lacking in Israel's repentance. One may cry out to the LORD, yet really just wish things were different. Crying out to God with the voice is not necessarily the same as crying out to Him with our heart.

i. God wanted from Israel the same thing He wants from us - a heart that will put its hand to the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62). He wants us to come to the place where we know that there is nothing worth following except God.

4. (Jdg 10:15-16) Repentance from Israel, mercy from God.

And the children of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.

a. Do to us whatever seems best to You: This indicates that Israel came to a place of total surrender to God. By nature our prayer is, "Do to me whatever seems best to me." The change in heart means that the season of affliction eventually did affect Israel in a good way.

b. So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD: Israel finally discovered that the worst of serving God is better than the best of serving idols.

c. His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel: God looked upon disobedient Israel with compassion, not hatred. It was "difficult" for God to allow Israel to stay in their misery, though it was best for them. Like the perfect loving parent, God hated to see Israel suffer, even when it was good for them. He longed to rescue them but would not do it until it was good for them.

5. (Jdg 10:17-18) Israel gathers, but without a leader.

Then the people of Ammon gathered together and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah. And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, "Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead."

a. The children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah: In response to the Ammonite threat, Israel gathered together for defense.

b. Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon? Israel gathered, but had no leader. God's pattern for doing great works among His people is to raise up a man. He could do the work all by Himself; He could send angels to do the work for Him. But God's normal means of operating is to raise up a man, and through that man to do a great work. God uses leaders.

© 2003 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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