OT History Part 1 – Judges 9-10

Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.”
When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelek, for they said, “He is related to us.” They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek used it to hire reckless scoundrels, who became his followers. He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.
When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’
“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’
“Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’
“The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
“Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”
Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.
After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelek.
Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelek. Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek? If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!’”
When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.”
So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place.
When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”
Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.”
But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.”
Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!”
So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.
The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek. So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there, he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.
Next Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.
Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.

  • Judges 9:1-57

After the time of Abimelek, a man of Issachar named Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim. He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.
He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years. He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair. When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the Lord and no longer served him, he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites. The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim; Israel was in great distress. Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.”
The Lord replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”
But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.
When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead.”

  • Judges 10:1-18

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Judges 9:1-6 ‘Abimelech seeks his kingdom’: “Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons, conspires with the men of his mother’s home city to hire assassins to murder his brothers; he then plans to seize control over part of the nation (9:1-6). There is a strong contrast between Abimelech, who seeks the throne by treacherous violence, and the greatest covenant king, David, who refuses to use violence against Saul to secure the throne for himself.
“Abimelech carries out a shrewd plan. He allies himself with one of the stronger cities in Israel, confident that the rest of the nation will offer no significant opposition to his rule while he is allied with Shechem. He appeals to the local pride and provincial spirit of Shechem (vv. 2-3). Usually, such provincialism is antagonistic to centralized rule, but Abimelech skillfully exploits it to found his limited kingship. Even the religious authorities in Shechem give financial support to Abimelech’s plot.
“Abimelech’s treacherous violence in murdering his brothers is a vice which the godly monarch refuses to condone. How can a kingdom founded in treacherous violence long control the very vice which brought it into existence? Beth Millo (v. 6) is probably the Tower of Shechem. Gathering for Abimelech’s coronation at the pillar in Shechem suggests that the religious sanction is either that of the local deity, Baal-Berith, or possibly of an illegal, syncretistic worship of Yahweh under the same name.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 9:5 ‘killed … brothers’: “This atrocity, common in ancient times, eliminated the greatest threat in the revolution—all the legitimate competitors.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:6 ‘Beth Millo’: “Lit. ‘house of the fortress.’ This was a section of Shechem, probably involving the tower stronghold of verse 46.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:7-21‘Jotham’s fable’: “Gideon’s youngest son, Jotham, who managed to escape the massacre (v. 5), relates a fable which gives God’s commentary on Abimelech’s kingship (9:7-21). Abimelech’s treachery will breed yet more treachery until the conspirators destroy each other. The fable itself is another expression of the widespread notion that good men have more important things to do than to seek political office. The olive, the fig, and the vine all reject kingship. It is only a worthless plant, the thornbush, that desires to rule over the trees. This, of course, is in contrast to the later, divinely ordained kings who do not seek the throne from human desire; rather God seeks them out.
“It is a ludicrous notion that the great trees of the forest might find shelter in the thornbush’s shadow. If, as is the case, the trees cannot seek shelter in the thornbush’s shadow, then it is inevitable that fire from the thornbush will destroy the trees. In fact, during dry times, thorn thickets were a major fire hazard among trees (cf. v. 20).”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 9:8-9 ‘Jotham’s Parable’: “A temptation was set before the olive tree, urging it to become ambitious and aspire to reign over the rest of the trees. We gather from Jotham’s parable that we also are all liable to temptation. Though we may think ourselves to be as firmly rooted and as useful as the olive tree, yet the fascinating whisper may be heard: ‘Come and reign over us.’ We will never be out of the way of temptation as long as we grow in this earthly garden. Our Lord himself had a stern conflict with the adversary at the commencement of his ministry, and at the close of that ministry ‘his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground’ when the powers of darkness assailed him in Gethsemane. We cannot be located anywhere in this world where our surroundings will be clear from danger. Therefore, ‘be alert,’ for the devices of evil will surely be exercised on us. Let us cry to the strong One for strength and set a double watch against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Temptations frequently come in the form of pleasing baits. Satan dresses up the pill he offers us. He seldom presents to any of us a bare hook, though that may be done with those who live habitually in sin. It is almost a bare hook when persons continue in drunkenness after they have ruined their health and brought themselves to beggars‘ rags. Satan hardly has to tempt them at all, for they go willingly after their idols and dote on them. But Satan generally takes care to bait his hook and cover +it so that it is scarcely seen.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Judges 10:13-14 ‘Deliverance after Israel’s Change of Heart’: “When the Ammonites came against Israel, the people of Israel became distressed and cried out to God for help. At first God promised a lack of personal action on Israel’s behalf (10:13-14), but because of the nation’s repentant heart, He intervenes yet again on behalf of His covenant people through Jephthah’s decisive military victory over the Ammonites (10:15-11:40).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Judges 9:14 ‘You come and reign over us’: “In Jotham’s parable of trees asking for a king (vv. 7-15), the olive, fig, and vine decline. They do not represent specific men who declined; rather, they build the suspense and heighten the idea that the bramble (thornbush) is inferior and unsuitable. The bush represents Abimelech (vv. 6, 16).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:22-29‘treachery breeds treachery’: “The conspiracy against Abimelech (9:22-29) illustrates that under normal circumstances treachery breeds more treachery. This tendency is enhanced by God’s sending an evil spirit to cause enmity between the conspirators. Finally, rebellion against Abimelech arises in the very city which had made him king, though the rebellion seems to have involved other cities as well (e.g., Thebez, vv 50-54). The details of Shechem’s treachery are not given; we are told only that the Shechemites become outlaws against public order and against Abimelech. Whatever loyal following Abimelech had in Shechem (cf. Zebul, vv. 30-38) is ineffective in preventing this disorder. Abimelech’s failure to maintain control over his rebellious subjects contrasts with the ideal king’s success in maintaining public order (Ps. 72:14).
“Shechem turns to open rebellion when another conspirator, Gaal, repays Abimelech in kind. Like Abimelech, he appeals to factional loyalties, this time to the sons of Hamor in Shechem, for support against Abimelech. The account is so condensed that some details remain unclear.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 9:23 ‘God sent a spirit of ill will’: “In the course of God’s providence, there appeared jealousy, distrust, and hate. God allowed it to work as punishment for the idolatry and mass murder.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:30-49‘destruction of Shechem’: “The destruction of Shechem follows (9:30-49). The text deals with treacheries within treacheries. Zebul, angry at Gaal but with no positive record of loyalty to Abimelech, enters into a suicidal conspiracy with Abimelech. Two strands of the theme are identifiable: first, that treachery breeds more treachery, and second, that treachery is self-destructive.
Zebul brings about Gaal’s defeat at Abimelech’s hands and drives his partisans in exile from the city. However, the treachery is not yet complete. Perhaps because he realizes that Zebul is not really loyal, Abimelech captures the city by yet more trickery and destroys it. The people of the tower of Shechem take shelter in the “stronghold” of the temple of El-Berith (i.e. Baal-Berith). This may have been a large, excavated, roofed chamber. If so, they suffocate to death when Abimelech builds a huge fire over the chamber.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 9: 37 ‘Diviners’ Terebinth Tree’: “A tree regarded superstitiously where mystical ceremonies and soothsaying were conducted.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:45 ‘sowed it with salt’: “An act polluting soil and water, as well as symbolizing a verdict of permanent barrenness (Deut. 29:23; Jer. 17:6). Abimelech’s intent was finally nullified when Jeroboam I rebuilt the city as his capital (1 Kin. 12:25), c. 930-910 B.C.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 9:50-57‘death of Abimelech’: “Abimelech’s death at Thebez (9:50—57) completes Jotham’s prediction. After the massacre at Shechem, Abimelech turns to Shechem’s ally, Thebez. Abimelech, with his typical abandon and recklessness, is attacking the city’s central defensive tower when a hurled millstone fatally injures him. After his armorbearer kills him to circumvent his death at a woman’s hands, Abimelech’s army disbands and the cycle of treachery and judgment is complete.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 10:1-5 ‘Tola and Jair’: “Judges 10:1-5 contains the record of two minor judges. The significant difference between them and the major judges is that they are not used to explicate the fourfold pattern developed in Judges. Tola is otherwise unknown although both his name and his clan name (Puah) appear elsewhere in the genealogies of Issachar (e.g., 1 Chron. 7:1). Geographic mobility is demonstrated in the fact that a judge from Issachar could live at Shamir in Ephraim—and even be buried there.
“Jair of Gilead, probably named after Jair the son of Hezron (1 Chron. 2:23-24), certainly is not a minor figure, though perhaps a minor judge. His clan and territories figure prominently in other biblical contexts (see, e.g., 1 Chron. 2:23-24). His large family and stable of donkeys are signs of prestige.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 10:3-5 ‘Jair’: “Most likely, the judgeship of Jair coincided with the time period of Ruth.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 10:3-5 ‘We have sinned.’: “Most likely, the judgeship of Jair coincided with the time period of Ruth.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 10:6-9 ‘Apostacy’: “Apostasy again initiates the pattern of sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance (10:6-9). More details are given here than for earlier apostasies. The nations whose gods are objects of apostate worship are listed. As later events prove, a major weakness of the Israelites at this time seems to be a simple lack of will and resolve, a weakness easily attributed to spiritual failure. Predatory raids into Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim show the extent of Ammonite power.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Judges 10:13-14 ‘God’s Wrath’: “Here is the form of God’s wrath, in which He abandons persistent, willful sinners to the consequences of their sins. This aspect of divine judgment is referred to in the case of Samson (16:20), as well as the warnings of Proverbs 1:20-31; Romans 1:24-28. It is a pattern of rejection seen throughout history (cf. Acts 14:15, 16) even among the Jews (cf. Hos. 4:17; Matt. 15:14).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 10:15 ‘Do to us whatever seems best.’: “Genuine repentance acknowledges God’s right to chasten, so His punishment is seen as just and He is thereby glorified. It also seeks the remediation that chastening brings, because genuine contrition pursues holiness.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Judges 10:10-16 ‘A people’s repentance’: “The description of the people’s repentance (10:10-16) is the most detailed and complex of the book. The literary narrative presents several stages in the process. First is the initial confession (v. 10). This is followed by an ironic divine oracle of further condemnation (vv. 11-14). The oracle begins by listing past oppressors. The mention of Sidonian oppression may recall Phoenician participation in Jabin’s effort against Barak (see chaps. 4, 5). Bedouin Maonites could have been part of the Midianite alliance (chaps. 6-8). The oracle rehearses the fact that God has delivered the Israelites from all their past enemies, especially when they have cried out in repentance. Despite this evidence of God’s power, they have still turned to other gods, in fact, to the very gods to whom God has shown himself superior. God then challenges them, ironically, to go to those gods for deliverance.
At this point the Israelites enter into a more deeply rooted, more conscious repentance and discard these false gods. The sense of God’s empathy for his people is powerfully expressed in the statement that God can “bear Israel’s misery no longer” (v. 16b). Even while judging his people in holy wrath, God’s compassionate sympathy for his people endures.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

 

My Thoughts

First, let’s look at the name Abimelech (Abimelek in the NIV).  The name appears three times.  In Genesis 20 and 21, Abimelech deals with Abraham.  First, Abraham passes off his wife, Sarah, as his sister (truthfully his half-sister) and Abimelech wants her, but then Abimelech discovers in a dream that she is married to Abraham.  Abraham had worried that in a pagan city, he might be killed and Sarah taken, but Abimelech was gracious.  In the next chapter, Abraham dug a well, but the servants of Abimelech took over the well for their own use.  Abraham complained and Abimelech and Abraham swore an oath at the well, establishing a treaty.  The well’s name became Beersheba as a result of the treaty, meaning the well of the oath or the well of seven (seven ewes given to Abimelech to seal the treaty).

Then in Genesis 26, Isaac does the same thing with his wife Rebekah, passing her off as his sister with Abimelech.  Since there is one generation removed, it was thought that Abimelech was a name given to the king.

Then in Judges, Gideon had a concubine who lived in Shechem.  The concubine had one son, Abimelech.  While the seventy sons of Gideon followed in their father’s footsteps, refusing to be king and preferring God to be king, Abimelech had other ideas, ambitious ideas.  Was it the name given to him that laid the groundwork for his hubris?

Abimelech is from Shechem.  Shechem is mentioned many times in the Bible, but two chapters in particular.  Abram camped near there (Genesis 12), but when Jacob followed suit (Genesis 33), there was trouble.  When Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite ruler of the area, saw Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, he lusted after her and raped her.  Simeon and Levi stepped in.  To have Dinah for his own, Shechem and his cronies had to be circumcised, according to Dinah’s brothers.  While sore due to the circumcision, Simeon and Levi slaughtered the men of Shechem.

Thus, the mention in Judges 9 of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the author is relating this to the family line of the founding fathers of the city, who had good reason to not trust the Israelites.

Thus, you have someone named as a person of royal descent, although Gideon refused to be the king, living in a town that had a centuries long grudge against the Israelites.  It would not take much to start a war.

Abimelech’s first order of business was to remove the competition.  Gideon had seventy sons by way of his many wives.  Abimelech killed them all, or so he thought.  Jotham escaped.  Rev. MacArthur stated this was apparently what was done in those days.  It was definitely done in the days of the Ottoman Empire (14th to 20th centuries).  The Ottoman Empire could have copied the idea from the traditions in Biblical times.  The idea is that your reign is secure in removing the rivals.  Note that Alexander the Great’s empire was divided into four parts (as prophesied by Daniel).  Have one surviving descendant keeps that from happening.

But in the end, Abimelech may be the son of a great Judge who drove out the Midianites from the land, but he was also the son of a slave girl.  This son of a slave girl had been bolstered up by an ambitious name and talk that his biological father could have been a king if he wanted it.  Abimelech wanted it, probably much due to the fact that he was a son of Gideon, but a lesser one.  I have been told by a parent that I did not matter.  The “news” was confirmation of how I felt about the situation, but to Abimelech, those would have been fighting words.

But with a lowly beginning, Abimelech had a hard time establishing trusted allies, and the ones he thought he had used treachery against him.  He went to war with Shechem and Thebez.  In each city, the people went into the tower for protection.  In Shechem, the tower was set on fire.  Either the people suffocated or were burned, but probably suffocation would occur first..  But in Thebez, the townspeople gathered on the roof of the tower and a woman dropped a millstone.  The millstone landed on Abimelech.  He knew he was dying, and he did not wish for history to record that a woman had killed him.  His armorbearer ran him through with a sword.  Compare this to the death of Saul, 1 Samuel 31, where the armorbearer refused to kill the king, and Saul fell on his own sword.

Note that when people think of millstones, they think of huge ones, which would take a village to lift. I once cleaned up the ivy that was killing an old tree in the grandmother’s back yard. The oak tree was very old, several feet in diameter. At the base of the tree, with ivy vines all around it, I found a strange stone. My older brother, by nine years, was taking archaeology at the time and my brother showed him the stone. The professor said that Chickasaw women probably sat under the shade of that tree and used that stone to grind the grain to make flour or meal. I had found a millstone that was easily carried by a woman, and from a considerable height, it could kill someone if it hit the right spot.

Note that God did not call up a judge in this case.  A young man became consumed by greed and the lust for power, nothing to do with driving out those who were oppressing the Israelites.  The story comes during the time of the Judges, and thus it is recorded in the book, but the story has a much different feel than the normal cycle of sin, oppression, repentance and salvation.

The beginning of Judges 10, we have two more judges, in similar fashion to Shamgar earlier.  Very little is known about Tola and Jair.  Tola was of the clan of Issachar, but he lived in Ephraimite country.  Thus, we see some mixing of the clans.  And according to Rev. MacArthur, the book of Ruth probably occurred while Jair was judge.

But even with these judges freshly gone, the Israelites chased after every god except for the true God.  The Philistines and the Ammonites were sent by God to oppress them, sold as the Scripture says.  The people cried out and this time, God rebuked them.  Why continue this ridiculous cycle?

But then the Israelites said some powerful words, powerful, that is, if truly meant and said from the heart.  “Do with us what You will.”  In surrendering to God’s will, God is faithful.  But the problem with humans who have a sin nature, they might mean it at the time, but then they want “backsies.”  In other words, they want to renege on their vow to be subject to God’s will.

This is a hard lesson that I learned when I became a true Christian.  It is the reason why it took saying the salvation prayer at least 500 times.  I kept that small little corner in the back of my mind open in case this Christianity thing did not work out.  My conscious mind was not aware of it at times, but God was persistent.  He kept the pressure on until I fully surrendered.  I feel that some of those who repented on this occasion really meant it.

After God balked at sending a new judge, He relented.  For the sake of those Israelites that truly meant that they would subject themselves to His will, God would send Japheth, but that is in the next chapter.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Abimelech, Judges 9: 1. Where in your life is God calling you to be a ‘Jotham’ and to stand up to an ‘Abimelech’? What might frighten you about that assignment?
“2. Sooner or later, God repays wickedness. What does that inspire in you: Awe? Comfort? Guilt? Fear? Of what wicked thing would you like to rid yourself?
“3. ln your life, when has God brought an unexpected deliverance, as he did with the people of Thebez? From what ‘enemy’ would you like to be delivered now? How can your small group help?
Tola, Jair, and a repentance, Judges 10: 1. Would you have given the Israelites another chance? Why or why not?
“2. Who is someone you are having difficulty forgiving? Why is that: Lack of trust? Hurt too much? Fear rejection again? Fear a shift in power? How can the small group be of help?
“3. Who is having difficulty forgiving you? Why?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for each chapter.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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