Judges – Lesson 13 

Judges Chapter 10 


In chapter 9,  Gideon’s son, Abimelech, decided that he wanted to be the earthly king of the nation of Israel after his father had clearly stated that neither he nor his sons should be their king.  Only the town of Shechem agreed to have him as their king, but even this was very wrong in God’s sight.  He put to death his brothers, and went on to find a very hard life ahead of him.  The chapter closed with Abimelech being killed by a woman who rolled a millstone off the side of the tower.  We talked about how God wanted to be the king, the only king of Israel, but men sought to be like the world.  When we do things the way the world does them, we are not pleasing in God’s sight.   We learn from Abimelech’s life that seeking worldly power and fame many times leads to heartache and sometimes an early death. 

Foreword to Chapter 10... Until this time, God has used only the major judges to serve for peacetime supervision.  These major judges carried on their guidance of the nation after they had won a victory.   This kept the people from plunging into sin as they had earlier.  In Chapter 10, God began to raise up minor judges when there was a need for deliverance.   Sin was apparently becoming more rampant, and God saw the need for this extra measure to check sin.   May we all be such men and women that never would God have to judge us due to sin. 1 Cor 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 1 Cor 11:32  But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  

I.                   TOLA, the Seventh Judge 

Judg 10:1  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.

Judg 10:2  And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir. 

Tola was the son of Puah and grandson of Dodo, one from the tribe of Issachar.  He did not do his work in Issachar, however, but in the city of Shamir on Mt. Ephraim.  In Judges 4:5, Deborah served in Mt. Ephraim, but it was probably to the south of Tola’s center.  Deborah judged in the tribe of  Benjamin, between Ramah and Bethel. 

Judg 4:5  And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 

Tola judged Israel for 23 years, the longest of any minor judge, and upon his death, was buried in the city of Shamir.  In the first verse, it says Tola arose to defend Israel.   Abimelech, Gideon’s son that we studied about last week, served in the same region as Tola.  It may have been that there were problems and disputes following the faulty reign of Abimelech, because we read how God was displeased with him and so many were against him as the end of his reign came.  There are many records in scripture about Tola and Puah, who were 2 of the 4 sons of Issachar.    

Gen 46:13  And the sons of Issachar; Tola, and Phuvah, and Job, and Shimron. 

Num 26:23  Of the sons of Issachar after their families: of Tola, the family of the Tolaites: of Pua, the family of the Punites: 

1 Chr 7:1  Now the sons of Issachar were, Tola, and Puah, Jashub, and Shimrom, four. 

A few years ago in one of our church services,  Brother Don McFarland pointed out the importance of the Jews having their names written down.  If their name was not in that scroll in the temple, they were not official Jews.  You and I need never worry about that book of names, but we had best be sure we have our name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Only those saved by the Grace of our good Lord have their names in that book. 

Rev 20:15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. 

One final comment about Tola.  The fact that he lived and served in Ephraim teaches us that Issachar had not occupied their land at the time of the allotment, due to the strength of the Canaanites in the Jezreel plains.  (this was their allotment area.) 


II.                 JAIR, the Eighth Judge 

Judg 10:3  And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years.

Judg 10:4  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.

Judg 10:5  And Jair died, and was buried in Camon. 

Jair is identified only as a Gileadite, and we have no record here of his parents.  The term Gileadite places his area of service on the east of the Jordan River.  He served for 22 years, and was one of the three minor judges of whom it is said that he had a large family.  This suggests importance and influence in his community.  It says in verse 4 that Jair had 30 sons who rode upon 30 ass colts.  In  J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Judges, he mentioned how that the ownership of donkeys was a mark of wealth and indicated that you were a part of the upper echelon class.  It seems that Jair’s family was one that had prosperity without a lot of purpose.  It is sad when we have affluence and not a lot of influence.  Only with God as a major part of our life will we be men and women of influence.  And money has nothing to do with power with God.   

It is pretty likely that a family with 30 sons would have some daughters along with them.  During this time, we know it was very common for men to have multiple wives, giving them a large number of children.  

These sons of Jair controlled 30 cities, apparently one son for each city.  These were called “Havoth-Jair” which meant “encampments of Jair.”   These cities were located in northern Gilead.   We see in Deuteronomy that these cities were near Basham.   

Deu 3:14  Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashanhavothjair, unto this day. 

1 Ki 4:13  The son of Geber, in Ramothgilead; to him pertained the towns of Jair the son of Manasseh, which are in Gilead; to him also pertained the region of Argob, which is in Bashan, threescore great cities with walls and brazen bars: 

1 Chr 2:22  And Segub begat Jair, who had three and twenty cities in the land of Gilead.

1 Chr 2:23  And he took Geshur, and Aram, with the towns of Jair, from them, with Kenath, and the towns thereof, even threescore cities. All these belonged to the sons of Machir, the father of Gilead. 

I wondered if these 30 sons of Jair ever accomplished a lot for the Lord.  No record indicated that even one of them was called as a missionary or as a prophet to extol the Word of the Lord.  It seems that all of them stayed right in that same basic area living in the lap of luxury.  Jair is a picture of prosperity without purpose, and that is not what God would have us to be. You and I need to be people of purpose, and our major goal should be to tell others about the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jair has little record of accomplishment, but perhaps he did more for God that was not recorded.  We know he was the first judge to serve on the east side of the Jordan.  Jair died and was buried in Camon. 

III.  The Sixth Apostasy and Servitude 

Judg 10:6  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.

Judg 10:7  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. 

There was no oppression by an enemy nation on the east of the Jordan until after the death of Jair.  The Midianites had passed through this area, but did not do any great damage nor did they bring an oppression.   There is little doubt that God appointed Jair as a judge to turn the people from their wicked ways so that the Ammonite punishment might be averted.  But as had been the cycle so many times before, the people turned from God and did evil in His sight.  They turned to the false gods Baal and Ashtaroth.  And to make things even worse, they served other false gods of Syria, Zidon, Moab, Ammon, and the Philistines.  In effect, they wholly turned from the True and Living God to serve idols that could never deliver.  My first thought is how we as Christians have to be careful to not let small sins trickle into our lives.  If we avoid the small sins, great sins will never happen in our lives.   

1 Cor 5:6  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

1 Cor 5:7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

 We know leaven speaks of sin in the bible, and God is warning us to not let even the smallest of sin be in our daily walk.  We need to be men and women that are worth their salt.  Ones that God can depend on, ones that are faithful to the Lord.   

Mark 9:50  Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. 

Due to the intensity of their sin, the Lord allowed them to go into a double servitude.  This time they served two nations at the same time.  The Philistines vexed them in the west while the Ammonites invaded from the east. 

Judg 10:8  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.

Judg 10:9  Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed. 

They faced oppression for18 long years, and collected tribute from the eastern tribes.   They crossed the Jordan and fought against the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim.  You know, sin has a price, and someone pays that price.  If we turn from God and don’t walk in his paths, we many times face the chastening hand of our Lord.  Israel could not be God’s people and serve Satan.  God allowed these horrible times to come upon his people to bring them back to Him.  Note it says “Israel was sore distressed.” 

Matthew Henry said this about the time after the reign of Tola and Jair.   

While those two judges, Tola and Jair, presided in the affairs of Israel, things went well, but afterwards,  Israel returned to their idolatry, that sin which did most easily beset them (v. 6): They did evil again in the sight of the Lord, from whom they were unaccountably bent to backslide, as a foolish people and unwise. 1. They worshipped many gods; not only their old demons Baalim and Ashtaroth, which the Canaanites had worshipped, but, as if they would proclaim their folly to all their neighbours, they served the gods of Syria, Zidon, Moab, Ammon, and the Philistines. It looks as if the chief trade of Israel had been to import deities from all countries. By introducing these foreign deities, they rendered themselves mean and despicable, for no nation that had any sense of honour changed their gods. Much of the wealth of Israel, we may suppose, was carried out, in offerings to the temples of the deities in the several countries whence they came, on which, as their mother-churches, their temples in Israel were expected to own their dependence; the priests and devotees of those sorry deities would follow their gods, no doubt, in crowds into the land of Israel, and, if they could not live in their own country, would take root there, and so strangers would devour their strength. If they did it in compliment to the neighboring nations, and to ingratiate themselves with them, justly were they disappointed; for those nations which by their wicked arts they sought to make their friends by the righteous judgments of God became their enemies and oppressors.   [1] 

Judg 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. 

The hardship suffered by the Israelites at the hand of the Ammonites and the Philistines was so great that they finally cried to the Lord to deliver them.  Finally after years of oppression, they confess a double fault.   They had forsaken their God, and had served Baal.    All of us need to remember that we are the ones that need God, not the other way around.  If we don’t see ourselves accurately we won’t realize that we can easily be replaced in the work of the Lord.  To serve God, to be a part of His work, is a great honor.  But we need to be vessels mete for the Master’s use.  That takes dedication,

consecration, and sanctification.  In other words, we must take up our cross, crucify the flesh, and walk in the spirit.  If we don’t bring the flesh under control, it will control us.

 Judg 10:11  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 sent them a messenger reminding them that He had delivered them from Egypt;

and from the Amorites in the land of Canaan.   The number of times God had delivered His chosen nation is almost innumerable.    When we look into our personal lives, I think you can testify that God has been with you time after time.    What a wonderful and caring Heavenly Father we have. 

Psa 59:16  But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Psa 59:17  Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.


Psa 62:7  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Psa 62:8  Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. 


Judg 10:12  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.

Judg 10:13  Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. 

Not only had God delivered his people from Egyptian bondage, and from the Amorites, but he had delivered them from the Ammonites, Philistines, Zidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites.   All the people had to do was walk worthy to the Lord with a true heart, but that seemed so hard to them. 

Judg 10:14  Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. 

This was good advice... if these false gods you are serving are real, go and cry to them.  Go and see how many of you will be delivered from all of your tribulation. 

Judg 10:15  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.

Judg 10:16  And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel. 

The children of Israel see they have made a mistake, and seek the Lord.   However, to ask to receive what ever seemed good to God could have been a mistake.   When we come to God, we had better ask for mercy rather than what we deserve.  Sin is a reproach to any nation.  In witnessing the genuine repentance of Israel, God was grieved for their misery.   God will only have compassion on us when we are genuinely sorry for our sins and seek His face. 

Judg 10:17  Then the children of Ammon were gathered together, and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and encamped in Mizpeh.

Judg 10:18  And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. 

The Ammonites became aware of the revival taking place in Israel, assembled their army, and camped in the land of Gilead.   The Israelites also assembled an army at Mizpeh.  As yet the Israelites had no one to lead them and the question arose as to who was able to lead them in battle against Ammon.  They agreed that such a man, when found, should be their head.   We’ll study about him next week.   In our lives, all of us need to only look to one to lead our lives, and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Praise the Lord that he is always there to guide and help us through everything of life. 

J. Vernon McGee spoke of the lack of leadership for Israel at this time. 

The Israelites lacked leadership. That is always characteristic of men, or of a generation, that have turned from God. Lack of leadership has definitely characterized our nation for the last twenty-five years. In fact, there has been a lack of leadership in the world for many years. We need vital leadership, but we cannot seem to find it. This was Israel’s experience. Now they are going to turn to a most unusual man for guidance. Under normal circumstances they would not have turned to him at all.   [2]



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.





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[1]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[2]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.