Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jair - a Judge in Israel

"He had thirty sons." - Judges 10:3-5 - If the listing is chronological, Jair's judgeship followed that of Tola, and the nation continued to enjoy the blessings of God and the subsequent peace and quietness resulting from Gideon's decisive defeat of the powerful Midianites. It also suggests that the people had not resorted to their former idolatrous practices, otherwise they would not have been enjoying the blessings of God. Jair "had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys." Horses were ill suited to Israel's mountainous terrain, and little used before the days of King Solomon. Anciently, the horse was used in war. God would warned that Israel's king "shall not multiply horses for himself" (Deut 17:16). Israel was to trust God for victory, not horses. Each of Jair's sons had a town named for him, which collectively were called, "Havoth Jair," towns of Jair. All of this suggests that Jair was a man of wealth, and had attained the status of a prince. He probably had several wives, and it was a common practice for a ruler to give his sons towns, or make them judges over the towns. As with Tola, little more is known of Jair. His greatness was not attained in some spectacular military exploit. He rose from obscurity, and wisely followed the godly example of Gideon and Tola who judged Israel before him. He sought no personal notoriety. He served God and Israel in quietness and humility for twenty-two years. At the time Israel was enjoying one of the longest periods of peace in its history. The years that Gideon, Tola, and Jair served Israel total eighty-five years. The tranquility was marred only by the localized three year reign of terror by Abimelech. To rule in times of peace and prosperity may require greater wisdom and patience than in time of war. During peace and material prosperity, the people tend to be more critical of leaders. In time of national danger, they are more united, and have one important goal: defense of the nation. They do not have time to enjoy the luxury to "pick" the leader apart.

Interestingly, the Greek form of Jair is the New Testament Jairus. (Mark 5:22.)

-- by O. H. Griffith, 01/28/03

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