What does Judges 10:2 mean?
ESV: And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir.
NIV: He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.
NASB: He judged Israel for twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.
CSB: Tola judged Israel twenty-three years and when he died, was buried in Shamir.
NLT: He judged Israel for twenty-three years. When he died, he was buried in Shamir.
KJV: And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.
Verse Commentary:
Some of the "judges" who rescued Israel through God's power are explained in stories that go on for several chapters in the book of Judges. Gideon's story even continued through to the generation of sons after him (Judges 8:28; 9:56–57). Others, like Shamgar (Judges 3:31), are given the briefest of mentions. Tola's story is over after just two verses (Judges 10:1). He arose to pull Israel from some crisis and then ruled as judge from his home in a city called Shamir. He fulfilled his role for twenty-three years, then died and was buried at Shamir.

It's unknown why so few details are provided about Tola, or regarding Jair in the following verses (Judges 10:3–5). Unlike the more-dramatic stories of other judges, Scripture doesn't explicitly say how or why the Lord designated either. No mention is made about Israel crying out for salvation from their enemies in their cases. Since the book of Judges is primarily about God's relationship with Israel, it may be that the experiences of these men didn't have a direct link to God's protection or discipline of Israel. Instead, their roles continue to set up the next moments in Israel's history.
Verse Context:
Judges 10:1–5 describes a period between Abimelech's atrocities and Israel's return to serving false gods. Little information is given about the two judges who arise during this time. Tola, from Issachar, saves Israel in some way and rules for twenty-three years. Jair rules from Gilead for twenty-two years, along with his thirty sons, who rule over thirty different towns. That area of Gilead is known by a name meaning "the settlements of Jair."
Chapter Summary:
Two more judges, Tola and Jair, rescue Israel for a time. Little detail is given about either. Once again, the people return to idolatry and depraved sins (Deuteronomy 12:29–31). In response, God submits His people to the Ammonites and Philistines. After eighteen years, they confess and beg for mercy. God bluntly refuses, this time. And yet, Israel shows humble repentance, getting rid of their idols. As God prepares to save the people, an army of Israelites in Gilead gathers to face an army of Ammonites. But the Israelite army lacks a leader.
Chapter Context:
After Gideon rescued Israel (Judges 6—8), his son, Abimelech, murdered his siblings and became a despotic ruler (Judges 9). That ended with further tragedy and bloodshed. Judges 10 begins with a brief description of two judges who ruled after the time of Abimelech. Then Israel falls further than ever into the worship of false gods. Nearly two decades after God turns the people over to their enemies, they confess their sinfulness. The Ammonites encamp against Israel in Gilead. The leaders of Gilead search for someone to lead them in battle. Chapter 11 details the call and success of the next judge, Jephthah.
Book Summary:
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
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