Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Uncle of Abimelech, i.e., Half-brother to Gedeon, as being born of the same mother, but by a different father, and of a different tribe. (Challoner) — The wife of Joas might have been married to a person of the tribe of Issachar, by whom she had Phua, who was half-brother of Gedeon. (Haydock) — Thola was cousin-german of Abimelech. (St. Augustine, q. xlvii., &c.) The Israelites elected Thola for their judge, (Abulensis) out of respect to Gedeon, (Cornelius a Lapide) that he might put an end to the commotions which had been excited by the tyrant. (Menochius) — Joatham might be passed over on account of his youth. The Septuagint and Chaldean have “Thola, the son of Phua, the son of his uncle by the father’s side,” which may be true, if the brother of Gedeon adopted him; or this uncle might refer to Abimelech. The uncertainty arises from the Hebrew Dodo, which may be taken as a proper name. “Phua, the son of Dodo;” (Pagnin; Protestants, &c.; Haydock) or as denoting a relation, the paternal uncle of Abimelech, or of Thola, (Bonfrere, &c.; Calmet) or simply “his kinsman.” The Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., assert that Thola “arose to defend or to save Israel.” He seems to have kept all quiet during the 23 years of his administration. — Samir. Septuagint Alexandrian reads “Samaria;” but the city was not built till the reign of Amri. There was a city on a mountain, (Haydock) called Samir, in the tribe of Juda, (Josue xv. 48,) different from this. (Menochius) — People were at liberty to dwell where they pleased, out of their own tribe. (Calmet) — This judge was buried among the Ephraimites. (Haydock) — But we know not the exact place where Samir stood. (Calmet) — There seems, however, to be no inconvenience in allowing that there was a town in the vicinity of Sichem, long before Amri made Samaria the capital of his kingdom; (see 3 Kings xiii. 22., and xvi. 24,) and here Thola might reside. He was probably the eldest, or of the second branch, of Issachar, (Numbers xxvi. 23, ) of great nobility and virtue, and the 10th judge of Israel.
Ver. 2. Years. S. Severus says 22, making the reign of Jair of equal length. Cum æque viginti & duos annos principatum obtinuisset. But this is contrary to all the best chronologers. The fidelity of the Israelites seems to have been of no longer continuance at this period than usual, as we find that they relapsed into idolatry again, at least after the death of Jair, within 45 years after they had been scourged by the tyrant Abimelech, ver. 6. (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Havoth Jair. This name was now confirmed to these towns, which they had formerly received from another Jair, Numbers xxxii. 41. (Challoner) — Sixty are there specified, and only 30 here, which might either be the same, or different from those villages to which the former Jair had left his name. Grotius thinks that judge Jair was the son of Segub, who left 23 cities to him. These, with seven belonging to his grandfather, Hesron, make up the number here specified, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 22. — The Hebrew does not say that these 30 cities were called after the judge: “they had 30 cities, which are called Havoth Jair,” &c. (Calmet) — Some copies of the Septuagint add “two” to the number of sons, asses, and cities, as if there had been 32 of each. In other respects they agree with the original. It was formerly a mark of distinction to ride on fair asses, chap. v. 10. (Haydock) — St. Jerome thinks that horses were prohibited, as they were in Egypt, without the king’s leave. But we nowhere find this law recorded , (Calmet) and it is not universally true that it existed. (Menochius) (Hieropolit. iii. 15.) — Some have inferred from Jair’s children having 30 cities, that he exercised a sovereign authority over Israel: but he might only give his children the authority of magistrates in them, as Samuel did, 1 Kings viii. (Estius) — We know not by what means Jair was raised to the chief command, nor what he did for the benefit of the people. He is supposed to be the same who is called Bedan, 1 Kings xii. 11. Serarius; Usher, &c.); though others think that Bedan is a title of Samson. He was of the tribe of Manasses in Galaad. Having kept the people under due restraint during his administration, they burst forth, like a torrent, at his death, and, on all sides, abandoned themselves to a multiplicity of idols, so that God made some difficulty in restoring them again to favour. (Haydock) — Cornelius a Lapide thinks that they had begun to relapse 18 years before the death of Jair, and were, consequently, chastised by the Ammonites. Serarius is of a contrary opinion, though Houbigant rather inclines to the former sentiment, as it is not said that Jair gave rest to the land, nor more than Samgar. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Camon is placed in Galaad by Adrichomius, though St. Jerome mentions another, six miles from Legion, where he supposes that Jair was buried. It seems more natural to say that he was interred in his own country, on the east side of the Jordan. (Bonfrere) — It is, probably the same city as Hamon (1 Paralipomenon vi. 16,) and Hammothdor, Josue xxxi. 32. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Gods. The sun and moon were principally adored among these nations, under different names.
Ver. 7. Ammon. While these infested the eastern parts, the Philistines made incursions into the territories of their neighbours. (Haydock) — This servitude resembled that of Madian. Jephte attacked the Ammonites, and Abesan, with other judges, made head against the Philistines (Calmet) on the west. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Years by the Ammonites, whose dominion was suppressed by the victory of Jephte. When the servitude commenced is uncertain, ver. 4. Hebrew, “and that year they vexed,” &c. (Calmet) — Roman Septuagint, “at that time.” Grabe’s copy has “in that year;” and though the former expression appear to be more indefinite, yet it must refer to some period, (Haydock) either prior to the death of Jair, (Salien) or subsequent to that event. (Eusebius; Genebrard.) — The text will not decide with certainty. How long the Philistines harassed Israel is specified, chap. xiii. 1.
Ver. 9. Exceedingly. Not only those who lived in Galaad, but also three tribes on the west of the Jordan, were treated as the half tribe of Manasses had been, (Calmet) when Gedeon delivered them. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Said by the mouth of an angel, or of some prophet. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Chanaan. Hebrew, “Maon.” Septuagint Roman and Alexandrian, “Madian.” The Maonites are styled Mineans by the Septuagint (1 Paralipomenon iv. 40,) and these inhabited Arabia, (Diod. iii. 42,) and might join themselves to Madian and Amalec, in their attacks upon the Israelites. As for Chanaan, which other editions of the Septuagint retain, we know that they were domestic enemies, like thorns in the sides of Israel, Josue xxiii. 13. All the persecutions, which the Hebrews had to undergo, are not particularized in this book. (Calmet) — They were grievously tormented in Egypt, they had to contend with the Amorrhites at their first entrance into the land. (Haydock) — The Ammonites and Amalecites had assisted Eglon before, and the Philistines had attacked Samgar. The Sidonians, it seems, had also greatly molested those who lived near them, and probably were the auxiliaries of Jabin. (Calmet) — But the Chanaanites were ready to fall upon every weak spot, living in various parts of the country, (Haydock) and continually tempted the people of Israel to abandon the service of God. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. No more, so readily as I have done formerly. I will make you feel the rod of your oppressors. (Haydock) — Unless you change your conduct, I will never deliver you. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Go. This is not a command, but an ironical expression, as Deuteronomy xxxii. 38.
Ver. 15. Time. They are willing to suffer from the hand of God, (2 Kings xxiv. 14,) if they prove inconstant any more. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Touched. Literally, “grieved.” Hebrew, “his soul was straitened,” as in joy it is said to be enlarged. He speaks of God in a human manner. (Calmet) (Genesis vi. 6.) (Menochius)
Ver. 17. Together, as people sure of victory. — Galaad, the capital of the country of the same name. It belonged to Gad. — Maspha, near the springs of the Jaboc, Josue xi. 3., and xiii. 26. (Calmet) — It signifies “a watch-tower.” (Menochius)
Ver. 18. Galaad. It seems none of them durst accept the offer, as the first onset was the most hazardous. Hence they invited Jephte to take upon him the command. The Israelites consulted the Lord on a former occasion, who should begin the attack upon the Chanaanites, chap. i. 1. In these wars much depended on one battle. The wars were seldom protracted to such a length as they have been since. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Thola ruleth Israel twenty-three years: and Jair twenty-two. The people fall again into idolatry, and are afflicted by the Philistines and Ammonites. They cry to God for help, who, upon their repentance, hath compassion on them.
1 After Abimelech, there arose a ruler in Israel, Thola, son of Phua, the uncle of Abimelech, a man of Issachar, who dwelt in Samir of Mount Ephraim:
2 And he judged Israel three and twenty years, and he died, *and was buried in Samir.
3 To him succeeded Jair, the Galaadite, who judged Israel for two and twenty years,
4 Having thirty sons, that rode on thirty ass-colts, and were princes of thirty cities, which from his name were called Havoth Jair, that is, the towns of Jair, until this present day, in the land of Galaad.
5 And Jair died, and was buried in the place which is called Camon.
6 But the children of Israel, adding new sins to their old ones, did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served idols, Baalim and Astaroth, and the gods of Syria, and of Sidon, and of Moab, and of the children of Ammon, and of the Philistines: and they left the Lord, and did not serve him.
7 And the Lord being angry with them, delivered them into the hands of the Philistines, and of the children of Ammon.
8 And they were afflicted, and grievously oppressed for eighteen years, all they that dwelt beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorrhite, who is in Galaad:
9 Insomuch that the children of Ammon, passing over the Jordan, wasted Juda, and Benjamin, and Ephraim: and Israel was distressed exceedingly.
10 And they cried to the Lord, and said: We have sinned against thee, because we have forsaken the Lord our God, and have served Baalim.
11 And the Lord said to them: Did not the Egyptians, and the Amorrhites, and the children of Ammon, and the Philistines,
12 The Sidonians also, and Amalec, and Chanaan, oppress you, and you cried to me, and I delivered you out of their hand?
13 And yet you have forsaken me, and have worshipped strange gods: therefore I will deliver you no more:
14 Go, and call upon the gods which you have chosen: let them deliver you in the time of distress.
15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord: We have sinned, do thou unto us whatsoever pleaseth thee: only deliver us this time.
16 And saying these things, they cast away out of their coasts all the idols of strange gods, and served the Lord their God: and he was touched with their miseries.
17 And the children of Ammon shouting together, pitched their tents in Galaad: against whom the children of Israel assembled themselves together, and camped in Maspha.
18 And the princes of Galaad said one to another: Whosoever of us shall first begin to fight against the children of Ammon, he shall be the leader of the people of Galaad.
2: Year of the World 2816.