Tola and Jair judge Israel. (1-5) The Philistines and Ammonites oppress Israel. (6-9) Israel's repentance. (10-18)
Verses 1-5 Quiet and peaceable reigns, though the best to live in, yield least variety of matter to be spoken of. Such were the days of Tola and Jair. They were humble, active, and useful men, rulers appointed of God.
Verses 6-9 Now the threatening was fulfilled, that the Israelites should have no power to stand before their enemies, Le. 26:17, Le. 26:37 . By their evil ways and their evil doings they procured this to themselves.
Verses 10-18 God is able to multiply men's punishments according to the numbers of their sins and idols. But there is hope when sinners cry to the Lord for help, and lament their ungodliness as well as their more open transgressions. It is necessary, in true repentance, that there be a full conviction that those things cannot help us which we have set in competition with God. They acknowledged what they deserved, yet prayed to God not to deal with them according to their deserts. We must submit to God's justice, with a hope in his mercy. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. As the disobedience and misery of a child are a grief to a tender father, so the provocations of God's people are a grief to him. From him mercy never can be sought in vain. Let then the trembling sinner, and the almost despairing backslider, cease from debating about God's secret purposes, or from expecting to find hope from former experiences. Let them cast themselves on the mercy of God our Saviour, humble themselves under his hand, seek deliverance from the powers of darkness, separate themselves from sin, and from occasions of it, use the means of grace diligently, and wait the Lord's time, and so they shall certainly rejoice in his mercy.
Judges 10:1-5 . TOLA JUDGES ISRAEL IN SHAMIR.
1. after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel, Tola--that is, "to save." Deliverance was necessary as well from intestine usurpation as from foreign aggression.
the son of Puah--He was uncle to Abimelech by the father's side, and consequently brother of Gideon; yet the former was of the tribe of Issachar, while the latter was of Manasseh. They were, most probably, uterine brothers.
dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim--As a central place, he made it the seat of government.
3. Jair, a Gileadite--This judge was a different person from the conqueror of that northeastern territory, and founder of Havoth-jair, or "Jair's villages" ( Numbers 32:41 , Deuteronomy 3:14 , Joshua 13:3 , 1 Chronicles 2:22 ).
4. he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts--This is a characteristic trait of Eastern manners in those early times; and the grant of a village to each of his thirty sons was a striking proof of his extensive possessions. His having thirty sons is no conclusive evidence that he had more than one wife, much less that he had more than one at a time. There are instances, in this country, of men having as many children by two successive wives.
Judges 10:6-9 . ISRAEL OPPRESSED BY THE PHILISTINES AND AMMONITES.
6. the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord--This apostasy seems to have exceeded every former one in the grossness and universality of the idolatry practised.
7. Philistines, and . . . the children of Ammon--The predatory incursions of these two hostile neighbors were made naturally on the parts of the land respectively contiguous to them. But the Ammonites, animated with the spirit of conquest, carried their arms across the Jordan; so that the central and southern provinces of Canaan were extensively desolated.
Judges 10:10-15 . THEY CRY TO GOD.
10. The children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee--The first step of repentance is confession of sin, and the best proof of its sincerity is given by the transgressor, when he mourns not only over the painful consequences which have resulted from his offenses to himself, but over the heinous evil committed against God.
11. the Lord said . . . Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians--The circumstances recorded in this and the following verses were not probably made through the high priest, whose duty it was to interpret the will of God.
12. Maonites--that is, "Midianites."
Judges 10:16-18 . THEY REPENT; GOD PITIES THEM.
16. they put away the strange gods . . . and served the Lord; and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel--On their abandonment of idolatry and return to purity of worship, God graciously abridged the term of national affliction and restored times of peace.
17, 18. the children of Ammon were gathered together--From carrying on guerrilla warfare, the Ammonites proceeded to a continued campaign. Their settled aim was to wrest the whole of the trans-jordanic territory from its actual occupiers. In this great crisis, a general meeting of the Israelitish tribes was held at Mizpeh. This Mizpeh was in eastern Manasseh ( Joshua 11:3 ).