“And after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola the son of Puah the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.” (Judges 10:1-2)
Repeatedly, when Israel went into sin. God sent someone to subjugate them and cause enough trouble that they would turn back to him. When they turned back, he destroyed the power of their oppressors and sent them a judge to guide them back to the right way.
After Gideon’s death, Israel turned away from God, and Abimelech seized power over them by political maneuvering and murdering his brothers. Three years later God destroyed Him and his political allies, and raised up Tola to judge tham and guide them back to following God. For twenty three years, Tola sought to guide them back to God.
“And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years. And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died, and was buried in Camon.” (Judges 10:3-5)
When Tola died, Jair became the judge continuing to teach Israel God’s ways and sttandards. He was from Gilead, as the area given to Gad was known, on the east side of Jordan. He established a strong confederacy of thirty of the cities of Gilead, with each of his thirty sons serving as representatives to maintain the alliance. They served the Lord twenty two more years under Jair’s leadership.
Oppression by Philistines and Ammonites
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.” (Judges 10:6)
After Jair’s death Israel turned to the gods of all the people around them, the Phoenician god, Baalim, the moon goddess Ashtoreth, the gods of the Syrians and of the Zidonians, the Moabites , Ammonites and of the Philistines. In fact they were so completely involved in worshipping those others they completely forgot about God.
“And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon. And that year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead. Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.” (Judges 10:7-9)
Once again Philistine raiders harassed the western Israelite communities like they had in the days of Shamgar. The Ammonites conquered the trans Jordan tribes, ruling them for a period of eighteen years and invading the western tribes of Benjamin, Judah and Ephraim, becoming a severe threat to their survival.
“And the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.
And the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites, from the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? The Zidonians also, and the Amalekites, and the Maonites, did oppress you; and ye cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” (Judges 10:10-14)
The Ammonite attacks became such a problem that Israel again cried out the Lord, confessing their sin, both of ignoring God, and of worshipping other gods. God reminded them that he didn’t owe them anything, but rather that they owed him for all the times he had delivered them. If they thought these other god’s were better, they should depend on them rather than on God.
“And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” (Judges 10:15-16)
Realizing they gotten in trouble by depending on those other Gods, Israel repented of their sin, not only apologizing but putting it away and beginning to serve God again, and acknowledging they had no right to claim his blessings. They simply threw themselves on his mercy, making no demands, willing to accept whatever he decided to do. God is not vindictive, and when they did so, he responded with sympathy for their plight, grieving at what they were suffering.