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Tola judgeth Israel, and after him Jair: the Israelite, are oppressed by the Philistines and the Ammonites: they cry unto the Lord, and encamp in Mizpeh.
Before Christ 1208.
Judges 10:8. And that year they vexed, &c.— Houbigant renders this, therefore at that time the children of Ammon afflicted and oppressed the children of Israel eighteen years, namely, all those who dwelt on the other side.
REFLECTIONS.—One tumultuous reign we have had, which needed two peaceable ones to repair its desolations.
1. Tola, of the tribe of Issachar, succeeded Abimelech; not an usurping king, but raised up of God to be a righteous judge, to reform their abuses, decide their controversies, heal their intestine divisions, and protect them from foreign invasions. For the greater convenience of administering justice, he resided in mount Ephraim, and judged Israel twenty-three years. Note; Though a warlike king shines more splendidly in the annals of history, a peaceable and mild government is more for the prosperity and comfort of every nation.
2. Jair, of the half tribe of Manasseh, beyond Jordan, followed; for God now divided the honour, sometimes calling men of one tribe, sometimes of another, to the office of judge and captain. During his administration, the peace of Israel was maintained; his thirty sons, a numerous family, as his assistants, for the people's convenience, rode their circuits to administer justice, each of them possessed of a noble patrimony, having a lordship to themselves, which bore their names in after-times. Twenty-two years this government lasted. Note; The impartial administration of justice, is, next to the Gospel, the greatest blessing of any land.
3. No sooner were these good men gone, than the people, as before, returned to their abominations. Their idolatry grew worse and worse; their idols were multiplied; God was forgotten, and his service neglected; and, as the consequence, when they leave him he leaves them. The Philistines on one side, and the Ammonites on the other, oppressed and crushed them, as the corn between the upper and nether mill-stone. Eighteen years this servitude continued extremely rigorous, and yet the people returned not to God. At last the Ammonites, having thoroughly plundered those on one side of Jordan, seek to increase their spoil, by attacking Ephraim, Judah, and Benjamin; while these disheartened tribes, having lost the presence of God, lose all courage, and are unable to make head against their invaders. Note; (1.) Reformation, without conversion of heart, will be of no long continuance. (2.) God never leaves us till we forsake him. (3.) They fall an easy prey to Satan who are left destitute of divine grace and protection.
Judges 10:12. And the Maonites— It is very uncertain who these Maonites were. Houbigant, with the Vulgate, reads Canaanites. The LXX, according to the Alexandrian manuscript and Roman edition, read Midianites.
Judges 10:16. His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel— This is a figurative expression, setting forth, in a very emphatical manner, the effect of the divine compassion. If the Israelites, hardened by idolatry, had not repented, God resolved not to deliver them: but as soon as they repented and reformed, he changed his conduct towards them. His wisdom leaves free scope to his goodness. Though God is, of course, superior himself to the affections of grief and affliction, the sacred writer expresses it as if his soul was grieved for their misfortunes, as if compassion disarmed him in their favour. See Jeremiah 15:1.
REFLECTIONS.—It was long before they bowed the knee of penitence; but better late than never. We have,
1. Their humble confession. They had committed two great crimes: they had forsaken God, the fountain of living water, and had hewn themselves idols, broken cisterns which could hold no water; their sufferings were, therefore, just, and they acknowledged their deserts. Note; The first step of a sinner's return to God is a discovery of his own great guilt, and a sense of his deserved ruin.
2. God sends them a sharp and upbraiding answer to their cries. He turns not away his ear from their prayers, nor sinks them in utter despair; but speaks so as to awaken their consciences, and confound them under the sense of their baseness and ingratitude. Many a time had they been delivered, and those very oppressors subdued under them; yet they had vilely sinned against their own mercies: he, therefore, refers them for help to the gods whom they served, to upbraid their folly, and convince them of the weakness of these lying vanities. He refuses to deliver them any more, that is, conditionally, as long as their idols were kept among them. Note; (1.) If God frowns upon the returning sinner, let him not despair; it is only his desert, indeed, if he be utterly rejected: yet, with the Lord there is mercy and forgiveness. (2.) When we are brought to a real sense of our sins, we shall see the vanity and insufficiency of those things to make us happy on which we formerly relied.
3. The people of Israel, solemnly assembled, it should seem, when this message by an angel, or prophet, was brought to them, own their just deserts, and surrender themselves up to God; yet humbly entreat, that once more he would spare them; and, convinced of their vanity, instantly put away their abominations. Note; (1.) When we come to God, we must pretend no excuse for our sin, but plead guilty, and throw ourselves on the mercy of our Judge. (2.) If we would prove our repentance real, we must instantly renounce the sins that we confess. (3.) When sin is our bitterness and burden, though we may stand trembling under the black review, there is yet hope.
4. God regards them with tender compassion, and, to speak as a man, beholds their misery with bowels which yearn over them. Note; No prodigals return to God, but his fatherly heart is touched with the feeling of their wretchedness, and he is ready to embrace the most miserable of sinners.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Judges 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25