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Jdg 10:1 After Abimelech, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar arose to save Israel, and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim-
God Himself 'arose and saved' Israel from Egypt (Ps. 76:9, s.w. "raised up a saviour"), and the phrase is also used of Moses in Ex. 2:17. But the people didn't want this radical deliverance from their enemies, because like the generation saved from Egypt, they were with their enemies in their hearts, and worshipped their gods as Israel had taken the idols of their Egyptian enemies with them, through the Red Sea (Ez. 20:17). So the potential possible in these raised up saviours / judges was never totally realized.  

This verse implies Abimelech was a saviour and defender of Israel. At some point he must have repented of all this and done work for God. His proclamation as king (Jud. 9:6) was however a rejection of Yahweh as king; the very thing his father Gideon had refused to do. Yet even such a spiritually weak man was used to save His people. 

"Tola" means 'worm', continuing the theme that the judges all had something about them which made them despised of men. The left handed, the son of a whore or of a concubine, etc. And it is exactly this kind of person whom God uses. 

Jdg 10:2 He judged Israel twenty-three years and died, and was buried in Shamir-
Shamir' is the word for "brier" or "thorn", and is often used in Isaiah in a very negative place. This man called "worm", Tola, lived in a place of briers / thorns, wasteland, bearing God's curse. But from such a place arose a man used by God to save His people. 

Jdg 10:3 After him arose Jair the Gileadite, and he judged Israel twenty-two years-
"Jair" means 'enlightener', or possibly 'light', which would fit with him being described as 'arising'. Like all the judges / saviours of Israel, he looked ahead to the rising of the light of Christ in Israel's darkness. There was another Jair who had liberated large tracts of land from the Canaanites during the conquest. Perhaps he was named after him. I have often noted the similarities between the lives of God's servants as recorded in the Bible; Jair judged for 22 years, and the previous judge for 23 years (:2), about the same period.

Jdg 10:4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkey colts,
To ride on a colt, an animal not yet broken in, was unusual. The idea surely is that they all rode on such colts at one time, perhaps the time when they received their thirty cities. It was as if they had to break in their city, as they were breaking in the colt, representing how they had to subdue the local inhabitants. And they look forward, as do all the judges, to the Lord Jesus; who also rode on a donkey colt as He entered the city of His inheritance, Jerusalem.

And they had thirty cities, which are called Havvoth Jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead-
I would consider the book of Joshua to have largely been written by Joshua, under Divine inspiration, although edited [again under Divine inspiration] for the exiles. And the book of Judges likewise. For the exiles too were set to reestablish God's Kingdom in the land and to inherit it again as the Israelites first did. The phrase "to this day" occurs several times in Joshua / Judges, and appears to have different points of historical reference (Josh. 4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:26; 8:28,29; 9:27; 10:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10; 22:3; 23:8,9; Jud. 1:26; 6:24; 10:4; 15:19; 18:12). I would explain this by saying that the book was edited a number of times and the remains of those edits remain in the text. For God's word is living and made relevant by Him to every generation.

Jdg 10:5 Jair died and was buried in Kamon-
Kamon can mean simply the rising, referring to elevated land. But given the belief in the resurrection of the body, we wonder if there was not also the idea of burying a man from where he would finally rise from the dead. In the same way as Joshua was buried in the border of his inheritance, to rise again and enter it.

Jdg 10:6 The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, and served the Baals and Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines; they forsook Yahweh and didn’t serve Him-
"The children of Israel did evil in the sight of Yahweh" is a refrain which occurs seven times in Judges (Jud. 2:11; 3:7,12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1), recalling how Israel both over history and in the last days were to be punished "seven times" for their sins (Lev. 26:23,24).

Jdg 10:7 The anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel and He sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the people of Ammon-
Yahweh sold them, but the record often says that they sold or prostituted themselves to the idols of the nations. He will confirm men in the path they wish to go.

Jdg 10:8 They troubled and oppressed the Israelites that year. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites that were beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead-
The first sentence of this verse is omitted by LXX and many versions, hence GNB "For eighteen years they oppressed and persecuted all the Israelites who lived in Amorite country east of the Jordan River in Gilead".

Jdg 10:9 The Ammonites passed over the Jordan to fight also against Judah and Benjamin and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was very distressed-
This "distress" is the word used of the distress of the historical Jacob / Israel in this same area (Gen. 32:7), when like Israel he was confronted with his sins and led to cast himself upon God's grace.

Jdg 10:10 The Israelites cried to Yahweh saying, We have sinned against You because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals-
This was how Yahweh felt. They themselves didn't think they had forsaken Him. The Bible at times speaks from God's viewpoint, at others from the perspective of the people whose actions are being described. To forsake Yahweh was to break covenant with Him (Dt. 31:16,17). Israel did forsake Yahweh (Jud. 2:13), but still He remained faithful to them, as Hosea remained faithful to Gomer despite her infidelity to their marriage covenant. Instead of forsaking them as He threatened, He instead by grace sent them saviours, judges, looking forward to His grace in sending the Lord Jesus, Yah's salvation.

The punishment for forsaking Yahweh was that "Yahweh will send on you cursing, confusion and rebuke in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken Him. Yahweh will make the pestilence cleave to you until He has consumed you from off the land into which you now go in to possess it" (Dt. 28:20,21). We expect these things to therefore happen at this time; but we note God's amazing patience and gentleness in not bringing these things immediately, and instead raising up judges as saviours for this wayward people. 

Jdg 10:11 Yahweh said to the Israelites, Didn’t I save you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites, and from the Philistines?-
The salvation from the Egyptians was at the Red Sea, long ago (Ex. 14:30). The Israelites were repeatedly reminded of this (Jud. 2:1; 6:8; 10:11). But they failed to perceive that God's actions in history were in fact their personal salvation, an act of grace shown to them also. David grasped that point, and his Psalms often thank God for the exodus, as if it had happened to him personally. But the problem is that Israel like all people tended to only see what was before their face at that moment. They had no sense of God's historical salvation of them, and the guarantee that He would likewise come through for them, if they remained faithful to Him. 

Jdg 10:12 The Sidonians also and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried to Me, and I saved you out of their hand-

"Maonites" is the word for the Midianites, alluding to the great deliverance from them worked by God through Gideon. "Oppress" is the word used of how Israel were oppressed in Egypt (Ex. 3:9). But the intention, as with Israel's latter day oppression, is that it would lead them to cry out for Yahweh's salvation, 'Jesus': "For they will cry to Yahweh because of oppressors, and He will send them a saviour and a defender, and He will deliver them" (Is. 19:20 s.w.). All the judges were therefore types of the ultimate deliverance of Israel by the Lord Jesus in the last days.

Jdg 10:13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more-
God told Israel straight "I will save you no more". But they begged Him, and He did. And likewise in Hosea, He said He would give them up completely, but just couldn't bring Himself to do it. God changing His mind is a theme that runs through Hosea. This is not caprice nor instability, but rather a window into the way that the pole of God's saving grace works out stronger than that of His necessary judgment of an awful, sinful people.

Jdg 10:14 Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen. Let them save you in the time of your distress!-
They had doubtless done this already, and were turning to Yahweh only as a last resort, rather than the first and only resort.

Jdg 10:15 The Israelites said to Yahweh, We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to You, only deliver us, please, this day-
This confession of sin before asking for deliverance was apparently from the heart, for God responded to it (:16).

Jdg 10:16 They put away the foreign gods from among them and served Yahweh; and His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel-
soul, His very person, was grieved (Heb. cut down, reaped- as in harvest, s.w. "his soul was vexed unto death", Jud. 16:16) for the misery / grief of Israel (Jud. 10:15,16). The Hebrew word translated "misery" is also translated "grief". The soul of Almighty God so far away from us grieved for their grief. Their pain elicited in Him a response, no matter that their pain was totally their fault.

In the death of Jesus we see the rejection of the Son whom God had so dearly hoped His people would reverence- but they rejected Him. As something of each of us dies in the death of those we love, so "God was in Christ", sharing in His sufferings and death. It was not of course that God died. But He fully shared in the sufferings of His Son unto death. God was so hurt by Israel's sufferings that in sympathy with them, "His nephesh ["soul"] was shortened" or expended. The phrase is used in Num. 21:4 and Jud. 16:16 about death or the diminishment of life. God's pain was such that this was how He felt, because He so internalized the sufferings of His people. And how much more in the death of His Son? He even feels like that for the sufferings of Gentiles- in the same way as Moab would weep for their slain sons, so God says that His heart would cry out for Moab, "therefore I weep [along] with the weeping of Jazer... my soul moans like a lyre for Moab" (Is. 15:5; Is. 16:9,11). God "pitied" Nineveh- a Hebrew word meaning to pity with tears (Jonah 4:11). The mourning of the prophets over Tyre (Ez. 27:1) and Babylon (Is. 21:3,4) was an embodiment of God's grief even over those not in covenant with Him. And how much more does He weep and suffer with His people Israel in their sufferings (Jer. 12:12; 23:10; Hos. 4:2,3); "my heart yearns / moans for him" (Jer. 31:20).

God grieved over the carcasses of those wretched men whom He slew in the wilderness for their thankless rebellions against Him their saviour (Heb. 3:17). The apostle makes the point: "With whom was He grieved?". Answer: with the wicked whom He slew! A human God or a proud God would never grieve over His victory over His enemies. Even in the fickleness of Israel's repentance, knowing their future, knowing what they would subject His Son to, "His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel". He delays the second coming because He waits and hopes for repentance and spiritual growth from us. But He praises the faithful for patiently waiting for Him (Is. 30:18; Ps. 37:7). Here we see the humility of God's grace, and His ability to have absolute humanity.

Jdg 10:17 Then the Ammonites were gathered together and encamped in Gilead. The Israelites assembled themselves and encamped in Mizpah-

Effectively this begins a new chapter or theme; this summarizes the situation which came about after the events of Jud. 11:1-4. Israel had repented: "The children of Israel said unto the Lord, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seems good unto You;  deliver us only... and His (God's) soul was grieved for the misery of Israel" (Jud. 10:15,16). Straight after this, "the children of Ammon were gathered together" to attack.  The people were "sore distressed" after an extended period of devastation at the hands of these people (Jud. 10:8,9), as they will be in the last days before they come to repent. It would appear from this type that after their repentance they will be faced with a final onslaught, and then tested as to whether they will really put their faith in Jephthah - Jesus.

This 'gathering together' is spoken of in latter-day passages - Zech. 14:2 and Rev. 16:14. The previous Arab invasions which typify those of the future, also mention this 'gathering together': Sisera's forces did this (Jud. 4:13), as did those of Ammon (Jud. 10:17; 1 Chron. 19:7), the Amorites (Jud. 11:20), the Arab powers with Assyria in Hezekiah's time (Mic. 4:11), Gog's forces (Ez. 38:7), the Arab-Canaanite tribes (Gen. 34:30) and especially the Philistines (Jud. 16:33; 1 Sam. 13:5,11; 17:1; 25:1; 28:1; 29:1; 2 Sam. 23:11). This is quite some emphasis. Thus while we can expect to see greater potential unity amongst Israel's enemies, developing around the Israel issue and perhaps a common allegiance to a charismatic 'Nebuchadnezzar' figure for a brief period, their complete meeting of minds will not be until the final push against Jerusalem.

Jdg 10:18 The people, the princes of Gilead, said one to another, Who will begin to fight against the Ammonites? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead-
The end result of Israel's suffering at the hand of Ammon was that they realized their desperate need for a firm leader. Both the ordinary people, and what remains of their leadership in the last days, will be unanimous in this same conclusion: "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" (Jud. 10:18). The fact that they then asked Jephthah to be this "head" (Jud. 11:8) would suggest that secretly they knew all along who they should follow.