23 May. Judges 10:1-16

23 May. Tola and Jair lead the Israelites

“After Abimelech died, another judge came to save Israel. He was Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo.”

“Tola was from the people of Issachar and lived in the city of Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. Tola was a judge [leader] for Israel for 23 years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.”

“After Tola died, Jair from the region of Gilead became judge. He was a judge for Israel for 22 years. Jair had 30 sons, who rode 30 donkeys. These 30 sons controlled 30 towns in Gilead, which are called the Towns of Jair to this day.”

“Jair died and was buried in the city of Kamon.”

“Again the Israelites did what the LORD said was wrong. They worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth, the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab and Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines. The Israelites left the LORD and stopped serving him.”

“So the LORD was angry with them and handed them over to the Philistines and the Ammonites. In the same year those people destroyed the Israelites who lived east of the Jordan River in the region of Gilead, where the Amorites lived. So the Israelites suffered for eighteen years. The Ammonites then crossed the Jordan River to fight the people of Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim, causing much trouble to the people of Israel.”

“So the Israelites cried out to the LORD, ‘We have sinned against you. We left our God and worshipped the Baal idols.’ The LORD answered the Israelites, ‘When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, Sidonians, Amalekites and Maonites were cruel to you, you cried out to me, and I saved you. But now you have left me again and have worshipped other gods. So I refuse to save you again.’”

“'You have chosen those gods. So go and call to them for help. Let them save you when you are in trouble.’ But the people of Israel said to the LORD, ‘We have sinned. Do to us whatever you want, but please save us today!’”

“Then the Israelites threw away the foreign gods among them, and they worshipped the LORD again. So he felt sorry for them when he saw their suffering.”

           (Judges 10:1-16)

 


 

Now be honest… Have you ever heard of Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo? And what do you know about Jair?? (That he had 30 sons? 30 donkeys?) If you’re like the other 99.9% of the population, you’ll never have come across these two leaders of Israel – although they feature clearly in the Bible at the beginning of Judges Chapter 10.

Why do we never have a Bible reading in church about Tola and Jair? Why do we ignore the 45 years during which they ruled Israel as ‘judges’??

Is the answer that this period of Israelite history recorded in the Bible is deliberately overlooked by many because it doesn’t present the Israelites in a very good light?

We’re happy to read about the heroic deeds of Gideon and Samson – two of the more ‘famous’ judges - but we shy away from the disastrous reign of Gideon’s son Abimelech and from the next chapter in the same book of the Bible that tells us, “Again the Israelites did what the LORD said was wrong. They worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth, the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab and Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines. The Israelites left the LORD and stopped serving him.” (Judges 10:6)

We like to think that the Israelites successfully entered the ‘promised land’ of Canaan in c.1406BC, defeating all the previous inhabitants, and then lived happily in their new relationship with God for the next 400 years. But, sadly, nothing could be further from the truth! The real narrative is that the Israelites –as was so often the case in their history as recorded in the Bible – were a selfish, arrogant and bloodthirsty people, who abandoned the moral lifestyle demanded in God’s commandments, and instead followed the loose sexual perversions and immoral ways of their Baal-worshipping neighbours.

Those of us who think that God’s ‘chosen people’ were godly people living a wholesome life are living with a childish version of Biblical ‘heroes’ such as Gideon and Samson that we learned at Sunday school and which we’ve never questioned since we became adults. The reality is that the Israelites were a selfish and stubborn people with lax morals and short memories.

The photo shows the hill country of Ephraim where Tola lived.

You can read more about the chronology of Tola and Jair @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/28-the-israelites-face-continuing-opposition/jephthah-defeats-the-ammonites-/


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