Study Notes

Judges 10:1-12:15

10:1-2 Tola

After Ab-ee-MEL-ek died, a judge arose to save Israel, whose name was To-LAW. His father was Poo-AW, his grandfather Do-DO. From the tribe of Yis-saw-KAWR, he lived in Shaw-MEER in the hill country of Ef-RAH-yim.

His reign over Israel doesn't have a lot of space devoted to it - just two verses - yet he judged Israel for 23 years. But I believe that there is something hidden just below the surface here - something that will bring Christ to our remembrance.

The word "To-LAW" means "worm." But not just any worm - it is a certain worm. The "coccus ilicis" was the worm that the Levites used to dye the curtains, veil, and other materials of the tabernacle scarlet.

When this worm is going to give birth, it permanently attaches itself to the trunk of a tree. It then lays its eggs beneath its body. When it dies, the worm seems to explode in scarlet fluid, staining the tree, and covering its offspring.

When Jesus spoke prophetically of His crucifixion through David in Psalm 22, He said,

Ps. 22:6 But I am a worm (to-LAW), and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised by the people.

It was Jesus who fastened Himself to a tree, knowing that it would result in His death. His scarlet blood stained the tree and covered us, His offspring.

1John 1:7 ...The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

This judge, To-LAW, was named after the coccus ilicis worm, yet his father's name was "Poo-AW," which means "splendid." I think of the psalmist writing of the Heavenly Father,

Ps. 111:3 Splendid and majestic is His work; and His righteousness endures forever.

How could a father name his son "worm?" To foreshadow the Father making a worm of His only begotten Son.

Isa. 53:3-5 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being {fell} upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

Isa. 53:9-10 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting {Him} to grief; If He would render Himself {as} a guilt offering, He will see {His} offspring, He will prolong {His} days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

It pleased the Father to crush the Son, for the scarlet dye that His death produced cleansed us from all sin.

10:3-5 Jair

The judge that came after To-LAW was Yaw-ERE. He was from the tribe of Manasseh, from the clan of Ghil-AWD.

He placed each of his 30 sons in authority over the thirty cities in Ghil-AWD, which were called "Khav-VOTHE Yaw-EER" (which simply means, "villages of Yaw-ERE").

Each of these sons rode donkeys - specifically, they were AH-yeers, colts of donkeys - young males. This tells us something about their leadership, for you see, Jesus came into town on the same beast - an AH-yeer, and He was described as

Zech. 9:9 ...Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The symbolism here is obvious: Yaw-ERE's sons ruled with justice and humility over their cities.

After judging Israel for 22 years, Yaw-ERE died and was buried in Kaw-MONE.

10:6-9 Israel Again Under Bondage

The words of chapter 2 again ring true:

Judg. 2:19 But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers

As soon as Yaw-ERE dies, they begin to worship the false gods of the peoples living around them.

As the Lord had promised, He got angry with them and gave them into the hands of their enemies the Philistines and the Ammonites for eighteen years.

10:10-14 Let Them Deliver You

Finally, the people cry out to the Lord, confessing their sins. But God's reaction is surprising. He says, "I've delivered you time and time again when you cried out to me, but you still forsake Me for false gods."

Judg. 10:14 "Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress."

Why didn't the Lord receive their prayers of confession? Because repentance is about more than saying, "I've been bad." It's about turning away from your sin, forsaking it, stopping it, cutting it out of your life.

Until this happens, God will not release them from their bondage.

10:15-16 Repentance

Now their confession turns to action - their repentance becomes a reality. They cleansed their land of idols and began to serve the Lord. It was then that He answered their prayer for deliverance.

I wonder what kind of bondage it would take to get the United States of America to put away its idols and serve the Lord? What disaster could befall us to make us, as a nation, cry out to the Lord in sincerity? Could anything at all stop us from hurtling toward hell as we are?

I think of those in the Great Tribulation who will suffer terrible affliction, yet will not repent.

Rev. 9:20-21 And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.

Does America have a chance? Only if there is a nationwide repentance. I wonder what it will take? At this point in Israel's history, it took eighteen years of terrible crushing and affliction, and then finally the threat of extinction when the Ammonites came against them. But they did finally repent and were saved.

10:17-18 Battle Lines Are Drawn

With the Ammonites gathered at Ghil-AWD, the Israelites got together close by at Mits-PAW. But they desperately needed a leader. Chapter 11 introduces us to the unlikely candidate.

11:1-3 Jephthah's Low Place

In Ghil-AWD was a strong and mighty man named Jephthah. Unfortunately for him, he was the son of a harlot - a prostitute. When his younger half-brothers grew to be men, they ostracized him and ran him out of town. He ran away and lived in the land of Tobe, where he became the leader of a tough bunch of guys with the same emptiness of conscience that the men Ab-ee-MEL-eck had hired.

11:4-11 Jephthah Is Raised Up

Jephthah's reputation as a strong warrior made him the perfect candidate to lead the Israeli army, regardless of his questionable lineage. Jephthah only agreed to head up the army if he would also be put in his rightful place of leadership as the eldest son of Ghil-AWD.

11:12-28 Diplomacy Fails

Jephthah first attempts diplomacy to resolve the situation between the Israelites and the Ammonites. He sent a letter saying, "Why are you fighting against us?"

Their response was that when Israel came up from Egypt in the Exodus, she had taken their land. "If you give back our land," they said, "we will leave you alone."

But Jephthah began to give them a Bible study from the book of Numbers, saying, "Wait a minute, guys. Israel didn't take this land from you. As you recall, when the Israelites got to Kaw-DASHE about 300 years ago, they asked if they could just pass through."

Num. 20:17-18 'Please let us pass through your land. We shall not pass through field or through vineyard; we shall not even drink water from a well. We shall go along the king's highway, not turning to the right or left, until we pass through your territory.'" Edom, however, said to him, "You shall not pass through us, lest I come out with the sword against you."

"So they went around Edom," Jephthah's letter continues, "and asked the Amorites if they could pass through. That didn't happen either."

Num. 21:21-25 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, saying, "Let me pass through your land. We will not turn off into field or vineyard; we will not drink water from wells. We will go by the king's highway until we have passed through your border." But Sihon would not permit Israel to pass through his border. So Sihon gathered all his people and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and came to YAH-hats and fought against Israel. Then Israel struck him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Yab-BOKE, as far as the sons of Ammon; for the border of the sons of Ammon was Yah-ZARE. And Israel took all these cities and Israel lived in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all her villages.

So Jephthah makes his two points clear: Israel took this land not from the Ammonites, but the Amorites; and God had given them the land. He wrote, "Hasn't your god Kem-OSHE given you your land? If this is yours, then why didn't King Baw-LAWK, the son of Tsip-PORE, fight against us?" (You recall that he did try to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites, but did not make an offensive move against them.)

There were also other opportunities to re-take this land.

Judg. 11:26 'While Israel lived in Khesh-BONE and its villages, and in Ar-o-AYR and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Ar-NOHN, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?

All of this diplomacy did no good. The Ammonites thoroughly disregarded his letter.

11:29 The Spirit Came Upon Jephthah

Jephthah now joins a select group of people who had the Holy Spirit come upon them in the Old Testament. The Spirit was upon Moses, and his 70 elders (Num. 11). Balaam, believe it or not, had the Holy Spirit come upon him (Num. 24:2). Oth-nee-ALE, the first judge and Caleb's younger brother, was filled with the Spirit (Judg 3:10). Gideon most recently (Judg. 6:34), and now Jephthah.

We will see this happen to more guys as we continue through the Old Testament. And sometimes, in instances like Balaam, Samson, and King Saul, the Spirit would also leave people. But today, the Holy Spirit is permanently given to us when we become believers. When we believed that He died and rose again to forgive our sins, God breathed on us and the Spirit came to live inside of our hearts. He...

2Cor. 1:22 ...sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Paul tells us in Ephesians,

Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise

The Spirit has not been given to us temporarily as He was before Jesus Christ ascended to heaven. He is with us as a pledge of our heavenly inheritance - forever, giving us full assurance of our hope until the end.

Here, the Holy Spirit empowered Jephthah to boldly lead Israel's troops to battle against the Ammonites.

11:30-40 Jephthah's Vow

Unfortunately, Jephthah's boldness was not countered with wisdom. He promises the Lord that if He gives him victory, he will sacrifice the first thing he sees when he gets home.

Jephthah did indeed get the victory over the Ammonites, slaughtering them in 20 cities - from Ar-o-AYR to the entrance of Min-NEETH, and all the way to Aw-BALE Keh-rem-EEM.

But when Jephthah came home, it was no bull or goat that he saw first - it was his daughter - his only child celebrating his return with dancing and tambourines.

He was obligated by his vow to offer his daughter to the Lord as a burnt offering. Now of course the Lord didn't want human sacrifice, and if Jephthah knew the Law, he would have redeemed her with a substitutionary sacrifice. And some commentators interpret the passage as saying that he simply shipped her off to a convent - a perpetual virgin, dedicated to God. But her reaction and his seem to negate that idea. I believe that after giving her two months, he did in fact sacrifice his daughter to fulfill his vow. What a terrible shame.

Years later, King Solomon wrote,

Prov. 20:25 It is a snare for a man to say rashly, "It is holy!" And after the vows to make inquiry.

We must not rashly make vows to the Lord, for He takes them quite seriously. Much of Numbers 30 consists of a person's obligation to keep their vows to God.

Num. 30:2 If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

It is better not to make a vow and to serve God than to vow to serve and then to fail to do it. Jesus taught,

Matt. 21:28-31 "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; {yet} he afterward regretted {it} and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?"

It is best to make no vows at all. Jesus also taught,

Matt. 5:33-37 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' {or} 'No, no'; and anything beyond these is of evil.

If Jephthah had simply gone to the battle without the vow, the Lord still would have given him the victory, and he could have come back and offered a burnt offering to the Lord without sorrow and stumbling.

12:1 Ephraim's Complaint

Once again, the Ephraimites are complaining that they weren't included in the battle. They came to Tsaw-FONE and say, "We're going to burn your house down on you for not including us in the battle against the Ammonites."

You may recall that Gideon had faced this same predicament back in chapter eight. The way he handled it was to flatter them, saying,

Judg. 8:2 ..."What have I done now in comparison with you...?"

But Jephthah is cut from a different block.

12:2-6 Jephthah Judges Ephraim

Jephthah fought against the contentious Ephraimites, and blocked their way home. Then, anytime any of them tried to cross the Jordan to escape back to the land of Ephraim, they were asked, "Are you an Ephraimite?" Certainly, the response was always no. But there was a test to pass, a question to answer: "Say now, 'shib-BO-leth,'" which was the Hebrew word for an ear of corn or a grain of wheat. But those Ephraimites had a regional accent. When they tried to say "shib-BO-leth," they would say "sib-BO-leth," giving themselves away as Ephraimites. Upon mispronouncing the word, they were immediately killed.

12:7-15 Ibzan, Elon, And Abdon

After Jephthah's death, three more minor judges rule. Ib-TSAWN of Bethlehem rules for seven years, Ay-LONE the Zebulunite judges for ten years (then is buried at Ah-yaw-LONE), and Ab-DOHN, the son of Hil-LAYL the Pir-aw-THO-nite judges for eight years.

So it would seem that Israel enjoyed over 30 years of relief from affliction before once again falling into evil.

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