Thursday, October 25, 2012

LXXVIII - Judges 10-12 - Territorial Rule

The tyranny of Abilmelek has come to and end, but only after so much destruction was done, mostly in the territories of Manasseh and Ephraim.
Chapter 10  -  After Abimelek's reign, God rose up a judge named Tola.  Tola was of the Issachar tribe, but lived in the hill country of Ephraim.  {The allotment of the land to the twelve tribes happened generations ago.  Many men married women of different tribes, which meant relocation in many instances.  This would have resulted in the tribes getting mixed in with others, which was fine, but they were commissioned to remain in Israel proper.}  Tola lead Israel twenty three years.  It doesn't say much about Tola, but he was surely refreshing after Abilelek.

In verse 3 it says Tola was followed by Jair for twenty two years.  I cannot find yet what tribe Jair was from, but there was a Gilead in Jair's ancestry and he was of the tribe of Manasseh.  The Scripture mentions that Jair had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and controlled thirty towns in Gilead.  Tola and Jair judged for a combined forty five years.  There was peace during these years, but no significant occurances took place.  But that is not to suggest these were not good judges, because it was not until the end of their reigns that Israel returned to its idolatrous ways (10:6).
In vss 6-->  It says that for eilghteen years the Ammonites, Moabites, and the Philistines "shattered and crushed" the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan, terrorizing Reuben, Gad, and the eastern half of Manasseh.  The Ammonites then crossed the Jordan to attack Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim.  Israel again came under great distress and cried to God for deliverence.  God gives His response in verses 11-14.  But Israel is still God's chosen people and God still loves Israel.

Moving on to chapter 11  -  Japhthah the Giliadite is introduced as a mighty warrior.  Japhthah was Gilead's son, but not by Gilead's wife, but rather by a prostitute.  This placed Japhthah in a "second-class-citizen" status with the rest of Gilead's family, who had run him out of the territory.  Jephthah ended up being a leader of a band of marauders, causing a lot of trouble, but building a reputation of a mighty man of war.  In the meantime, Gilead came under attack from the Ammonites and, being desparate for help, pleaded with Japhthah to come back to Gilead and get rid of the Ammonites.  Now I find the way Jephthah handled the Ammonites was very wise.  Beginning in verse 12, he reasoned with the king of Ammon.  He simply asked the king why he was attacking Israel.  "What have you got against us?"  The Ammonite king told him that it was because Israel had taken their land from them.  Japhthah (14-->) gives the king a History lesson, reminding him of how the Edomites and the Moabites not would allow the Israelites to pass peacefully through their land.  {Japhthah being so well versed in History after so many generations is impressive.}  In fact, the Moabites ended up attacking Israel and Israel had to defeat them militarily.  But as wise a Japhthah was, he made a mistake in striking a deal with God.  Japhthah told God that if He would give him victory that Japhthah would sacrifice as a burnt offering the first thing that came out of his tent when he returned from battle (vs 31).  {I just don't think this was necessary, as I think God would have given Japhthah victory anyway.}  Low and behold, Jephthah was indeed victorious, and when he returned home and saw his tent, his daughter came out to greet him.  Noteworthy is the fact that not only was this his only daughter, she was his only child.  Nonetheless, in the remaining verses of this chapter we see that Japhthah honored his commitment to God.

Chapter 12  -  Remember how the Ephraimites talked to Gideon after Gideon's defeat of the Midianites?  They pull the same thing on Jephthah.  Except now they threaten to burn down Jephthah's house with him in it.  (Why do we never read about Ephraim leading into battle against the Canaanites?  Ephraim always just complains about not being included after the fact.}  This time the Ephraimites have gone too far and started a war with Japhthah and the Giliadites.  In verse 2, Japhthah said that he called on them and they wouldn't help him, so he went ahead without them.  So the Ephraimites went to war with the Gileadites and lost on the Jordan River.  As stated in vss 4-6, Jephthah captured the place at the Jordan where everyone crossed.  At that place he killed all Ephraimites and allowed all others to cross the river.  The way he distinguished between the Ephraimites and all others was that the Ephraimites could not properly pronounce the word "Shibboleth".  If a person could not pronounce that word, he was not allowed to cross the river and was killed.  {This is the only place I've seen where a large group of people were unable to correctly pronounce a particular word.  It is believable though because there are large groups of people who could never speak Spanish properly because they cannot roll 'r's.  I certainy cannot.}  It says in verse 6 that forty-two thousand Ephraimites were killed in their war with Japhthah and the Gileodites.
Jephthah led Israel for six years, although not with peace in the land.  In the remaining verses of chapter 12, it tells that Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon were all judges after Jephthah.  These three judges lead Israel for a combined total of twenty-five years.

Next post - Samson

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