Friday, May 13, 2011

The Book of Judges - Jair

Today we will be continuing our series in the book of Judges.
After him arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called "Havoth Jair" to this day, which [are] in the land of Gilead.  Judges 10:3-5 NKJV
Again we have a judge of whom we know very little about.   He was a Gileadite, making him from the half tribe of Manasseh who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan River from the rest of Israel.  Before God centered on Judah as the seat of power for Israel, he spread things around.  This is a great example of God doing just so as this tribe was kind of separated from the rest of Israel.  Raising up a judge from this tribe allowed for them to take a much more central role in Israel as a whole and help bring their tribe more into the fold. 

We can also glean a little from his name "Jair."  His name means "enlighten", however his name probably had to do more with ancestry then intelligence.  I am not saying that he was not intelligent, he was a judge after all.  What I mean is that a famous forefather of his went by the name Jair. 
Jair the son of Manasseh took all the region of Argob, as far as the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and called Bashan after his own name, Havoth Jair, to this day.)  Deuteronomy 3:14 NKJV
The elder Jair was a military hero, especially for Manasseh.  He received the credit for overtaking a good chunk of land.  We can also deduce that considering today's Jair and his sons rule over the same set of cities that were conquered by the elder Jair.  From the fact that he and his sons had thirty cities under their control, they apparently will still a very prominent family in Israel.  Given that he had thirty adult sons, we can also safely assume that Jair was a polygamist.  Yes it is possible to have thirty sons with either one wife or a succession of wives, but the more likely scenario is one where he was a polygamist. 

We also know that he ruled for twenty two years, which is just about the same amount of time our previous judge Tola.  Again, that is a relatively long reign and seemingly continued the peace and security they apparently had under Tola.  There is no mention of any backsliding until after his death and there is no mention of anything between Tola and Jair.  Therefore, the evidence in Scripture supports that Israel was in a time of relative peace and security for forty five years, which is pretty long for them.

And, finally, it appears that his time as judge was a family affair.  It appears as though his sons were part of judging Israel, much like Samuel attempted to do later on.  Considering that after his death Israel fell back into sin, we can deduce that his sons did not have the same calling that Jair had.  The implication that they rode on donkeys implies that they went out into the land as some kind of itinerant judges,  Considering they also ruled their own individual cities, this seems more like a monarchy than a judgeship.  Jair never set himself up as king, but it seems as though he may have liked to pretend that he was one.

So what can we learn from this very small amount of information about Jair, his sons, and the life and times of Israel itself during this time.  I think the lesson is in the verse that follows where we left off:
Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.  Judges 10:6 NKJV
From this we can deduce that his sons did not have the same calling or gifts as their father.  This is a lesson that Samuel later learned and part of what led Israel to demand a king. A judge was not selected by a parent, an election, a committee, or by any other earthly means. A judge is an office hand selected by God and specially equipped by God to fulfill this high calling.  Israel, during the time of the judges, was still under the rule of God.  The judge was responsible (just as in the case of Moses) to be God's representative on earth to lead the people.  This was no place for dynasty, as God chose judges according to His own will. 

Even in today's world. fathers like to pass things down to their children.  Many fathers, even today, desire their son's to follow in their footsteps whether in chosen career or in a family business.  This may work to some extent in the secular world, but this many times leads to disaster in the church.  There are many sons of pastors living in rebellion to their fathers.  While many of these come back to the fold, many others do not.  One can not assume that a son will have the same relationship with the Lord that their parents did.  A parent can not assume that their progeny has the same calling of God that they did.  Surely sometimes they do as I know of several multigenerational Christian singing groups, but one can not make that assumption.  Serving God is a calling that comes from God, not parents.  Spiritual gifts are distributed by the Holy Spirit and not selected by parents as their children grow up.  Just as in the time of the judges, this has no place in the church.  Sadly, many parents try to groom their children to a particular ministry to serve in.  If that is not their calling, as those children grow they will perceive that ministry as a vocation and not as the blessing it should be.  They will most likely burn out or just rebel against the faith itself.  Just as sad is when parents try to pressure their children to serve in a particular church.  Just as God will gift and call each to the ministry God has prepared for them, God will also lead us where we are to serve as well. Parents should raise children in the Lord, but they also have to trust the Lord to gift and lead their children as they grow up.  The goal should not be serving for the sake of serving out of compulsion giving them the false notion that their goal should be to make mom and dad proud.  The goal should be to instill in them the values that there is joy in serving and trusting God to lead them to where they should serve.  The goal should be that they serve out of love and a desire to serve the Lord.  The goal of serving should not be to make you proud,  but for you to be proud of your children when they are joyfully and faithfully serving the Lord, wherever He leads. 
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit [of all]: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another [different] kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.  1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NKJV

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