Judges 10 (New International Version)
1 After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.
3 He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years. 4 He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys.
When fishes flew and forests walked,
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things:
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
–G. K. Chesterton
They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair.
Wesley’s commentary on Judges suggests that the thirty sons “were itinerant judges, who rode from place to place, as their father’s deputies to administer justice.”
5 When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.
6 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
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.
They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him, 7 he became angry with them.
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.
He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, 8 who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. 9 The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress. 10 Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.”
11 The LORD replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”
This apparent rejection, and the apparent indifference to the pleas of His people, was designed to test the sincerity of their response. (Cundall)
15 But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.
Jeremiah 18:7-8 (New International Version)
If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
Psalm 103:8-14 (New International Version)
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
HERE is “Lord, Have Mercy.” Sung by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.
17 When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will launch the attack against the Ammonites will be the head of all those living in Gilead.”