Judges 10

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1 After Abimelech there arose a ruler in Israel, Thola son of Phua the uncle of Abimelech, a man of Issachar, who dwelt in Samir of mount Ephraim:

2 And he judged Israel three and twenty years, and he died and was buried in Samir.

3 To him succeeded Jair the Galaadite, who judged Israel for two and twenty years.

4 Having thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and were princes of thirty cities, which from his name were called Havoth Jair, that is, the towns of Jair, until this present day in the land of Galaad.

5 And Jair died: and was buried in the place which was called Camon.

6 But the children of Israel, adding new sins to their old ones, did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served idols, Baalim and Astaroth, and the gods of Syria and of Sidon and of Moab and of the children of Ammon and of the Philistines: and they left the Lord, and did not serve him.

7 And the Lord being angry with them, delivered them into the hands of the Philistines and of the children of Ammon.

8 And they were afflicted, and grievously oppressed for eighteen years, all they that dwelt beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorrhite, who is in Galaad:

9 Insomuch that the children of Ammon passing over the Jordan, wasted Juda and Benjamin and Ephraim: and Israel was distressed exceedingly.

10 And they cried to the Lord, and said: We have sinned against thee, because we have forsaken the Lord our God, and have served Baalim.

11 And the Lord said to them: Did not the Egyptians and the Amorrhites, and the children of Ammon and the Philistines,

12 The Sidonians also and Amalec and Chanaan oppress you, and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand?

13 And yet you have forsaken me, and have worshipped strange gods: therefore I will deliver you no more:

14 Go and call upon the gods which you have chosen: let them deliver you in the time of distress.

15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord: We have sinned, do thou unto us whatsoever pleaseth thee: only deliver us this time.

16 And saying these things, they cast away out of their coasts all the idols of strange gods and served the Lord their God: and he was touched with their miseries.

17 And the children of Ammon shouting together, pitched their tents in Galaad: against whom the children of Israel assembled themselves together and camped in Maspha.

18 And the princes of Galaad said one to another: Whosoever of us shall first begin to fight against the children of Ammon, he shall be the leader of the people of Galaad.


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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