We hear of three more judges who followed Jephthah. They come from Judah, Zebulun, and Ephraim. God is spreading His leadership around.
We don’t see how many years in between these judges, how they were called, or the state of Israel in between God’s interventions. We don’t even know how many years after Jephthah died before Ibzan, our first judge, was raised up. There are SO MANY questions I would like to ask. But instead of focusing on what we DON’T know, let’s focus on what we DO know.
Looking at the size of our first and third judge’s families, we could assume that they were wealthy. They had to have this wealth before they became judges as the length of their terms were not sufficient to raise up that size of family during it. Ibzan “had thirty sons, and thirty daughters” (verse 9a). Abdon “had forty sons and thirty grandsons” (verse 14a). These were SIZABLE families. Imagine the dowries alone on Ibzan’s daughters! These two men did not come from modest means.
Our second judge, Elon, appears to be of more modest means. We see nothing about his family. All we know of him is that he was from the tribe of Zebulun, he judged Israel for ten years, was buried at Aijalon, and he was chosen by God for this role. I know that last one isn’t spelled out in our reading today but as this book chronicles all the judges and those that raised themselves up are spelled out, we can feel safe in crediting him with a heart towards God.
Ibzan appears to be a political schemer. He married ALL of his children outside of his own clan. This was an unusual thing to do as the family lines were kept close. But Ibzan’s actions would make alliances outside his clan and give him inroads into other tribes. I wonder if his first child’s marriage to someone outside the clan was an unexpected occurrence or if he had planned this from the beginning. What clans did he get his wives from? Is this where the political scheming started? We KNOW he had MORE than a couple of wives. NO woman would have survived birthing 60 children!
I wonder if Ibzan had his sons help in judging Israel. It appears that Abdon might have. Why else would we be told about his 40 sons and 30 grandsons having donkeys if it wasn’t to move about the country and render God’s judgement to the people?
Abdon judged Israel for only eight years. Was this because he was old when he took the job? Was it because of the stress of the job? Did he, and both the other two judges listed, die of natural causes? Were their services to Israel cut short by a suspicious death? Ibzan judged the shortest number of years, at seven, and Elon the longest, at ten.
What was Israel like during those years? Did they have any ‘lapse in coverage’ between the judges? Were they worse after each of these men died? Were they oppressed by any of their neighboring nations before or during their period of judgement? It sounds like I have come full circle when looking at these three men.
Father God, thank You for showing me that You can use people from EVERY walk of life. Young or old, rich or poor, famous or humble. You don’t choose the qualified, You qualify the chosen. You also don’t strip those You call of their identity. You work with them until they ae as. You work with me where I am. But You don’t leave me in the same state that I was. You gently guide me into the path You laid down for me. I wonder what it took to get these three men onto Your prescribed path. I look forward to seeing what the path ahead looks like for me. Looking back I see Your hand ALL OVER my life. I KNOW Your hand is never leaving me, so whatever path lies ahead I trust You to walk it with me.