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Judges 10:1 . Tola, son of Puah; therefore he was the grandson of Othniel’s brother. God called him from the treasures of his providence, to nourish his people for twenty three years after evil times.
Judges 10:3 . Jair; that is, illuminating. Another president, who probably had this name as a title because of the peace, the knowledge, and righteousness, which he diffused throughout the country. But, like Gideon, he, on finding wealth and presents, yielded to the strong temptation of polygamy, and established his thirty sons in Havoth-Jair, or the villages of Jair.
Judges 10:6 . Served Baalim and Ashtaroth; gods and goddesses; both these words are plural in the Hebrew. Our learned Selden has written a Latin book on the gods of Syria, which does not give us more light than what we find in Biblical Critics. Every nation had its titular god, but other gods they worshipped, and almost without number.
The gods of Syria are Bel, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, called Astarte. The gods of Zidon were Jupiter, and Astarte. 1 Kings 11:5. The gods of Moab were Chemosh, the Priapus of Horace. 1Ki 11:5 ; 1 Kings 11:33. Numbers 20:21. Jeremiah 48:46.
The gods of Ammon were Saturn, Moloch, or Milcolm, the devourer of children. Jeremiah 49:0. Amos 1:0.
The gods of the Philistines were Dagon, the titular god, and Zeus or Jupiter, whom all worshipped. 1 Samuel 1:2. 1 Kings 11:33.
Judges 10:11 . The Lord said by a prophet, who, like a man of God, thundered eloquent reproaches in the ears of a guilty people.
Judges 10:12 . The Maonites. The Septuagint reads, the Midianites. But there was a city called Maon on the south of Judah, inhabited by the Canaanites. 1 Samuel 23:25; 1 Samuel 25:2.
Judges 10:17 . Encamped in Mizpeh. This Mizpeh was at the foot of mount Hermon, in the land of Gilead, where the senators often assembled.
Providentially the reign of Abimelech was short, and the mischiefs, it would seem, became instructive to Israel; for God, under the presidency of Tola, and of Jair, granted them a period of long repose. These princes understood the arts of peace; arts essential to the happiness of the people, and the prosperity of empire. They did more: they administered justice, reformed abuses, suppressed idolatry, and protected religion, which is the best bond of society, and the surest pledge of immortal good. Agriculture and commerce were improved, and every menace of foreign invasion was warded off by prudence and courage. There is no estimating the blessings derived from an auspicious reign, and an able administration.
Prosperity however has its snares. The Israelites having intercourse with all the neighbouring nations, imbibed their manners, and were corrupted by their superstitions. The charms of idolatrous festivals had attracted their carnal hearts: and on the death of Jair they were bold enough to introduce the morals and the gods of all the surrounding nations. This apostasy was more general than any of the former: and therefore it received a greater punishment. God, in appearance, having forsaken his people, the Philistines in the west, and the Ammonites in the south, consumed and oppressed the country. What a proof of the depravity of human nature, and of the outbreakings of original sin. Surely no man can doubt of this birth-fault of the human heart, unless his head be weak, or his mind embittered against the truth. He cannot want evidence of what he affects to doubt, he may want humility and repentance to acknowledge the fact. Let us therefore endeavour to preserve religion pure, and discipline vigorous, that every rising age may have the means of grace to counteract the wicked propensities of nature, and to obtain regenerating grace by the Holy Spirit.
The Israelites having by these crimes forfeited the divine protection, and the blessing of a worthy Judge to preside in their country, found themselves subjugated by two weak and inconsiderable states. Oppression made them cry to the Lord: but they cried under the rod, not for their sins: and the Lord refusing to hear, sent them back to their gods for salvation. So it is when afflictions shall surprise the man who has indulged in licentiousness, and despises the power of religion. He cries to be relieved of his load, before he fairly mentions the sins which have occasioned the scourge: but God will laugh at his calamities, and mock when his fear cometh. The Israelites finding their prayers rejected, (for what can prayers or fastings avail while a nation retain its sins) proceeded to destroy their idols before they dared to pray again. Then the Lord had compassion on his people, and repented of his threatenings to forsake them. So, if the wicked would find mercy in the day of visitation, let him heartily renounce his sins; let him make restitution for his crimes, and then let him call on the name of the Lord, if peradventure he will have compassion upon him.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Judges 10". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19