Judges 10 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional

After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tolah, the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in the mountains of Shamir. After him, arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they had thirty towns, which are called “Haroth Jair” to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Camon. Then the children of Israel again did evil on the sight of the L_rd and served the Baals and the Ashteroths, the gods of Syria and the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people Ammon, and the gods of the Philistine; and they forsook the L_rd and did not serve Him. Judges 10:1-6

Chances are, that Tolah & Jair are not on your list of favorite Bible characters. We really don’t know much about them. Scholars refer to Toah and Jair as “minor judges” – as opposed to “major judges” like Deborah or Gideon.

The fact that Tolah & Jair receive less “ink” in the Bible does not mean they were of no importance. If we squint at the details, we can see how these men contributed to both the salvation and degradation of their generations.

Tolah: Verse 1 is clear to state that Tolah arose to save Israel. It speaks to the goodness of Adonai. We do not know whether Tolah established stability through administration or military victory. But his saving work, however it was displayed, came after Abimelech the destroyer had done his worst. At the time of deepest darkness, the L_rd appointed Tolah for a saving mission. And that is typical with the L_rd. He does not go on blasting forever, allowing His people to be trampled as infinitum; but after the Valley of the Shadow, He anoints our heads with oil…from sorrow & sighing to joy & gladness. G_d will never allow the “Abimelechs” of this World to be the last word for His people!

Jair: If in Tolah’s regime we find a hint of the L_rd’s goodness, in Jair, we catch a glimpse of man’s tendency. Look carefully. The text only depicts Jair’s wide influence through his thirty sons. That does not necessarily imply any wrongdoing. In ancient Israel, numerous sons were a gift from Adonai and a means of protection from one’s enemies. However, Jair’s thirty sons (not to mention numerous daughters he surely sired) implies multiple wives. The text records no displeasure about this. Yet, when we heard about Gideon’s seventy sons (chapter 8), the writer gave the explanation, “for he had many wives”, a circumstance which made the Abimelech fiasco possible. So, now we know why Israel fell back into moral disrepair after Jair’s reign as Judge ended. Jair sought the trappings of kingship in spite of official denials of it. He led Israel by bad example, through serving himself.

Surely, we understand Jair. Even in our service to G_d and community, in all our ways there is the subtle urge to secure our position, display our status, extend our influence and guarantee our recognition. Yet, our programs to unseat the “true King” will always have a way of slipping-out from behind our largest fig leaves…

~Steve Wiggins
Daily Devotional, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014