Shofetim Chapter 10

Sefer Shofetim Chapter 10
This chapter describes for us a couple of “minor” judges about whom we are not told too much. Tolah ben Puah of the tribe of Yissakhar led the Jewish people for twenty-three years and Yair HaGiladi did so for twenty two years. The latter was best known for the thirty sons (each of whom had his own donkey upon which to ride) and the thirty cities that belonged to him.

Neither of these shofetim/judges distinguished themselves through any specific manifestation of spiritual or political greatness that was substantial enough to record in the Tanakh. It is interesting that the Navi sees fit to mention the material wealth and large family of Yair HaGiladi; the fact that this is what we know about him suggests that there may not have been much more to say.

The Jewish people finally hit rock bottom. Previously, even when they served other gods, they demonstrated some (albeit lukewarm) devotion to their own God. However, as of this chapter, not only have they embraced the worship of all forms of idolatry indigenous to the land of Israel, but they have completely abandoned the worship of Hashem. This leads to the harshest and most intense persecutions yet, with the Pelishtim and the people of Ammon dominating the Jews on both sides of the Jordan River for a full eighteen years.

Finally, the Jewish people cry out to Hashem for salvation. Rather than respond immediately to their call, Hashem’s message is to further castigate them for their lack of dedication and their fickleness. He refuses to once again assist the Jews, only to be forgotten as soon as He saves them from their troubles.

The Jewish people again plead with Hashem for help, removing all of the false gods from their midst and committing themselves fully to the service of the God of Israel alone. Hashem no longer denies their request but does not make the resolution of their plight an obvious one. The chapter ends with the Jewish people gathered at Mitzpah and puzzling over whom to appoint as a Shofet to lead them toward some resolution of the crisis.