Judges 10

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1 Now after Abimelech, Tola, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, became the saviour of Israel; he was living in Shamir in the hill-country of Ephraim.

2 He was judge over Israel for twenty-three years; and at his death his body was put to rest in the earth in Shamir.

3 And after him came Jair the Gileadite, who was judge over Israel for twenty-two years.

4 And he had thirty sons, who went on thirty young asses; and they had thirty towns in the land of Gilead, which are named Havvoth-Jair to this day.

5 And at the death of Jair his body was put to rest in the earth in Kamon.

6 And again the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord, worshipping the Baals and Astartes, and the gods of Aram and the gods of Zidon and the gods of Moab and the gods of the children of Ammon and the gods of the Philistines; they gave up the Lord and were servants to him no longer.

7 And the wrath of the Lord was burning against Israel, and he gave them up into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the children of Ammon.

8 And that year the children of Israel were crushed under their yoke; for eighteen years all the children of Israel on the other side of Jordan, in the land of the Amorites which is in Gilead, were cruelly crushed down.

9 And the children of Ammon went over Jordan, to make war against Judah and Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great trouble.

10 Then the children of Israel, crying out to the Lord, said, Great is our sin against you, for we have given up our God and have been servants to the Baals.

11 And the Lord said to the children of Israel, Were not the Egyptians and the Amorites and the children of Ammon and the Philistines

12 And the Zidonians and Amalek and Midian crushing you down, and in answer to your cry did I not give you salvation from their hands?

13 But, for all this, you have given me up and have been servants to other gods: so I will be your saviour no longer.

14 Go, send up your cry for help to the gods of your selection; let them be your saviours in the time of your trouble.

15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord, We are sinners; do to us whatever seems good to you: only give us salvation this day.

16 So they put away the strange gods from among them, and became the Lord's servants; and his soul was angry because of the sorrows of Israel.

17 Then the children of Ammon came together and put their army in position in Gilead. And the children of Israel came together and put their army in position in Mizpah.

18 And the people of Israel said to one another, Who will be the first to make an attack on the children of Ammon? We will make him head over all Gilead.


Exploring the Meaning of Judges 10      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 10: Tola, Jair; Israel oppressed again.

This chapter opens by mentioning the judges Tola and Jair, who judged for twenty-three years and twenty-two years, respectively. The text gives us very little information about them, except that Jair had thirty sons, who rode on thirty donkeys and had thirty cities in the land of Gilead.

After Jair died, the people soon disobeyed the Lord, and worshipped the gods of Syria, Sidon, Moab, Philistia, and Ammon. This provoked the Lord’s anger, so He caused the Philistines and Ammonites to oppress Israel. The Ammonites first attacked the two-and-a-half tribes living on the eastern side of the Jordan, then crossed the river to attack Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim.

The people cried out to the Lord, saying that they had forsaken Him, but He told them to go to the other gods they had chosen. However, the people asked again for forgiveness, stopped worshipping foreign gods, and turned back to the Lord, so His anger toward them subsided.

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This chapter describes another episode in Israel’s cycle of disobedience and punishment, in which the people repeatedly turn away from the Lord when there is no leader. No matter how often we affirm our faith in the Lord, we, too, will default to our natural desires and false thinking. As we come to recognize and accept this fact of life, we can find comfort in the Lord. He understands this completely, and does not blame or punish us.

The first judge mentioned is Tola. His name means “a worm-like grub”, suggesting the idea of metamorphosis and regeneration (see Swedenborg’s work, True Christian Religion 106[2]). Tola’s father was Puah (meaning “shining”), his grandfather was Dodo (meaning “amorous, loving”), and their city was Shamir (which means “keeping the commandment”). These names bring to mind the spiritual qualities of truth, love and life in the Lord (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 977).

The next judge is Jair, whose name means ”he whom God enlightens”. The number thirty (used in reference to his thirty sons and their thirty towns) means fullness or readiness. This readiness refers to our spiritual ‘remains’, or states of innocence and charity that the Lord imparts to us during childhood. These remains are essential during regeneration (Arcana Caelestia 1050).

The Philistines, soon to be a major enemy of Israel, stand for the belief in “faith alone” salvation. This way of thinking instills the idea that we will be saved if we “believe in the Lord”, regardless of our actions. “Faith alone” doctrine is present in many religious practices (see Swedenborg’s work, Doctrine of Life 4).

The people of Ammon stand for profaning what is true, by turning the truths of the Word into false ideas. We profane the truth when we claim to know what the Word teaches, but live in a way that is contrary to the Lord’s commandments (Arcana Caelestia 6348[3]).

This chapter, like many others in the book of Judges, shows Israel’s decline into chaos and evil. The two judges, Tola and Jair, provide a picture of spiritual integrity, in contrast with Israel’s oppression by the very evils they have turned to. In our regeneration, with its highs and lows, we must avoid the temptation of shallow faith by acting according to our values.

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