Jair, the Seventh Judge

“There arose after him, Ya’iyr the Giliadite. He judged Israel for twenty-two years. And he had thirty sons who rode upon thirty donkeys and there were thirty cities given to them. They are called Chaboth-Ya’iyr even to this day. This is in the land of Gilead. And Ya’iyr died and was buried in Qamon.”

(Judges 10:3-5)

Following Tola there comes Jair. The variance in spelling above is due to transliteration techniques largely based on the Greek Septuagint. Personally, I think that if transliterations followed more closely to that of the Hebrew, they would be far easier for most westerners to pronounce. Nevertheless, it is a convention that we have inherited in most of our English Bibles.

The key thing to note about Jair (just remember, it is two-syllables) is that he serves as judge during a time of peace. This notion is attested to by the fact that the sons are found riding on donkeys — an animal traditionally ridden in peacetime whereas horses were ridden by kings in times of war. Thus there are thirty sons, each given a city or a village of sorts to oversee, and riding on donkeys, not to show off, but as an indicator that God has blessed this cycle of leadership with a time of tranquility.

A contrast should be made between the way the sons of Jair behave toward one another and the way that the sons of Gideon behaved toward one another. Unlike Gideon’s sons who murdered one another for power, the sons of Jair seem to be content leading their given regions and walking in harmony with one another. We can certainly speculate that differences arose (we are sinners!), but the implication is that God blessed these men with the grace to get along and work through their differences.

As a pastor, one thing that grieves my heart greatly is when I see adult siblings who cannot seem to get along with one another. Sometimes (but not always) they will put their differences to the side for a sick or dying parent, but almost as soon as the funeral is through, it seems that the conflict resumes and the war begins anew. It is truly heartbreaking to see. We have a reminder in the sons of Jair of a standard toward which we ought to strive as Christians. May indeed be a model toward which we all strive.

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