Judges 10:7-9: Chastisement by Ammonite and Philistine Invasion

[circa 1161 BC] Verse 7:[1] And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he (Judg. 2:14; 1 Sam. 12:9) sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.


The Philistines, and…Ammon: The one on the west, the other on the east; so they were molested on both sides.


Verse 8:[2] And that year they vexed and oppressed (Heb. crushed[3]) the children of Israel: eighteen years, all the children of Israel that were on the other side Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is in Gilead.


[And grievously oppressed] Hebrew: and they crushed the sons of Israel (Malvenda). Now, these had vexed (Junius and Tremellius). These, suppose the Ammonites; of which it is here treated. There is silence here concerning the Philistines, of whom it is treated in the history of Samson (Junius). But this does not appear to be restricted to the Ammonites, but to be referred also to the Philistines (Piscator). For, as the crime of idolatry was not one (for no idols of their neighbors, or known to them, did they leave without worship), so the recompensed calamity was not one; the Philistines on the West, the Ammonites on the East (Bonfrerius).


[For eighteen years: but in Hebrew it is, בַּשָּׁנָ֖ה הַהִ֑יא שְׁמֹנֶ֙ה עֶשְׂרֵ֜ה שָׁנָ֗ה] In that very year, eighteen years (Pagnine, Montanus, Jonathan). How is it in that year, if eighteen years continued (Drusius)? [They loose this difficulty in a variety of ways.] At that time eighteen years (Septuagint). As time in the Scripture is not uncommonly put for year, so year is sometimes put in the place of time (Bonfrerius). Thus, the year acceptable and of visitation, the time in which one is visited. In Luke 4:19, the year of the Lord He calls the time in which God visits us. Thus in John 18:13, who was the priest of that year, that is, of that time (Drusius). It is able also thus to be rendered, In that year and eighteen years (Munster), so that a copula is understood (Drusius): or thus, in that year unto the eighteenth year (Dutch); or, unto that eighteenth year. Thus בְּהַשָּׁמַיִם, in the heavens, Psalm 36:5;[4] בַשָּׁמַיִם, in heaven, Genesis 11:4;[5] Deuteronomy 1:28,[6] which in Jeremiah 51:9 is אֶל־הַשָּׁמַיִם, unto the heavens,[7] and in Psalm 57:11, עַל־שָׁמַיִם, unto heaven.[8] Others: from that year eighteen years (Syriac, Munster), or, unto the eighteenth year (Arabic). ב/in they take in the place of מִן/from; as in Exodus 12:45, he shall not eat in it, that is, of it.[9] Thus in Exodus 35:32, to make in gold, that is, out of gold;[10] and in Leviticus 8:32, which remaineth in the flesh, that is, of the flesh[11] (Drusius). Others: in this year, in the eighteenth year, I say (Junius and Tremellius, Septuagint). Others: in that year (that is, in which they defected from Divine worship (Vatablus), or, in which Jair died [Tigurinus Notes]), and that in eighteen years (Tigurinus). Some maintain that it is signified that this was done after seventeen years of servitude had elapsed, yet especially in the eighteenth year of the same (Serarius). But an intertwined question arises here, whence and how these eighteen years are to be reckoned, and to which Judge they are referred (Bonfrerius). Response 1: These eighteen years came between the death of Jair and the beginning of Jephthah (Serarius out of Augustine and Josephus). Certainly in the time of Jair, and after the victory of Jephthah, they were not afflicted and oppressed (Serarius). [To others this is not satisfying.] Thus these years are to be added to the years of the Judges, which we showed in chapter 2 is not able to be done (Lapide). Unless we are willing to charge 1 Kings 6:1 with falsehood (Bonfrerius). [Concerning which, see what things are to be observed on that passage, Lord willing.] It remains, therefore, that these years be referred to the times of the Judges, either the Judges foregoing or following (Bonfrerius). Response 2: These years are to be referred to the following Judges, Jephthah, etc. (thus Eusebius and Genebrard[12] and the Hebrews in Bonfrerius). This does not satisfy. Who would believe that after such a smiting of the Ammonites, concerning which Judges 11:33, the Israelites were thus afflicted? Then, before the principate of Jephthah they had cast away their idols, and God had grieved over their miseries, in verse 16. Therefore, He delivered them from the oppression of the Ammonites (Bonfrerius). Neither would Jephthah and the Ephraimites have fought against each other in chapter 12, unless they were free from servitude; but, with their strength combined, they would fight against their common enemies (Ussher’s Sacred Chronology). Response 3: These years are to be referred to the preceding years of Jair (Bonfrerius, Ussher, Salian and Torniellus in Bonfrerius). God at length repeated the punishments of the idolatry of the Israelites under Jair. For, even if the death of Jair is mentioned before this oppression, nevertheless this is done by prolepsis; so that thereafter, without interruption of the order, there might be a treatment of the causes, duration, and end of the Ammonite servitude. Therefore, in verse 6, it is able to be rendered in the pluperfect, and they had done evil, etc. (Ussher’s Sacred Chronology 13). These years are to be included with the eighteen latter years of Jair, and they begin with his fifth year: for, although it is said that he judged Israel for twenty-two years; yet it is not be thus understood, as if no enemy at that time appeared (we shall see the contrary in the principate of Samson): but it means this, that the Lord in the beginning stirred up a Savior for them, through whom He liberated them at that time, and who remained a Judge thereafter: But he not able completely to keep them from idolatry, not to protect them from their enemies, but in his fifth year idolatry erupted, and enemies oppressed them unto the death of Jair. Thus in verse 6 it is to be rendered, the Israelites had done evil (Lightfoot).


That year they vexed and oppressed the children of Israel, etc.: Or, that year they had vexed and oppressed the children of Israel eighteen years. Or, they vexed them in that year, that was the eighteenth year, to wit, of that vexation. This was the eighteenth year from the beginning of that oppression. And these eighteen years are not to be reckoned from Jair’s death, because that would enlarge the time of the judges beyond the just bounds, as may appear from 1 Kings 6:1; nor from Jephthah’s beginning to reign, because he reigned but six years, and in the beginning thereof put an end to this persecution; but from the fourth year of Jair’s reign; so that the greatest part of Jair’s reign was contemporary with this affliction. And although this oppression of the Ammonites and Philistines, and the cause of it, the idolatry of the Israelites, be not mentioned till after Jair’s death, because the sacred penman would deliver the whole history of this calamity entirely and together; yet they both happened before it; and Jair’s death is mentioned before that only by a prolepsis or anticipation than which nothing is more frequent in Scripture. The case of Jair and Samson seem to be much alike. For as it is said of Samson, that he judged Israel in the days of the tyranny of the Philistines twenty years, Judges 15:20, by which it is evident that his judicature and their dominion were contemporary; the like is to be conceived of Jair, that he began to judge Israel, and endeavoured to reform religion and purge out all abuses; but being unable to effect this, through the backwardness and baseness of the people, God would not enable him to deliver the people, but gave them up to this sad oppression; so that Jair could only perform one half of his office, which was to determine differences amongst the Israelites, but could not deliver them from their enemies.


[Who dwelt across Jordan] Imprudently the Reubenites, etc., had claimed this portion for themselves; for, although it was the most fertile region, yet is was in greater danger with respect to bordering enemies (Martyr).


Verse 9:[13] Moreover the children of Ammon passed over Jordan to fight also against Judah, and against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim; so that Israel was sore distressed.


[With the Jordan passed over] That is, after they had afflicted the Trans-jordanians, they passed through Jordan (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֥ף יְהוָ֖ה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַֽיִּמְכְּרֵם֙ בְּיַד־פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וּבְיַ֖ד בְּנֵ֥י עַמּֽוֹן׃


[2] Hebrew: וַֽיִּרְעֲצ֤וּ וַיְרֹֽצְצוּ֙ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּשָּׁנָ֖ה הַהִ֑יא שְׁמֹנֶ֙ה עֶשְׂרֵ֜ה שָׁנָ֗ה אֶֽת־כָּל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן בְּאֶ֥רֶץ הָאֱמֹרִ֖י אֲשֶׁ֥ר בַּגִּלְעָֽד׃


[3] Hebrew: וַיְרֹצְצוּ.


[4] Psalm 36:5: “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens (בְּהַשָּׁמַיִם); and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds (עַד־שְׁחָקִים).”


[5] Genesis 11:4: “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven (בַשָּׁמַיִם, in heaven); and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”


[6] Deuteronomy 1:28b: “…The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven (בַּשָּׁמָיִם, in the heavens); and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.”


[7] Jeremiah 51:9: “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven (אֶל־הַשָּׁמַיִם), and is lifted up even to the skies (עַד־שְׁחָקִים).”


[8] Psalm 57:11: “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens (עַל־שָׁמַיִם): let thy glory be above all the earth (עַ֖ל כָּל־הָאָ֣רֶץ).”


[9] Exodus 12:45: “A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof (לֹא־יֹאכַל־בּוֹ).”


[10] Exodus 35:32: “And to devise curious works, to work in gold (לַעֲשֹׂ֛ת בַּזָּהָ֥ב), and in silver, and in brass…”


[11] Leviticus 8:32: “And that which remaineth of the flesh (וְהַנּוֹתָ֥ר בַּבָּשָׂ֖ר) and of the bread shall ye burn with fire.”


[12] Gilbert Genebrard (1535-1597) was a French Benedictine scholar, specializing in Oriental studies. He served the Roman Church as a professor of Hebrew at the Collège Royal, and later as Archbishop of Aix. He is especially noteworthy for his commentary on the Psalms and his translation of Rabbinic works into Latin.


[13] Hebrew: וַיַּעַבְר֤וּ בְנֵֽי־עַמּוֹן֙ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לְהִלָּחֵ֛ם גַּם־בִּיהוּדָ֥ה וּבְבִנְיָמִ֖ין וּבְבֵ֣ית אֶפְרָ֑יִם וַתֵּ֥צֶר לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מְאֹֽד׃

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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