What does Judges 12:14 mean?
ESV: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years.
NIV: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He led Israel eight years.
NASB: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys; and he judged Israel for eight years.
CSB: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. Abdon judged Israel eight years,
NLT: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel for eight years.
KJV: And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.
NKJV: He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys. He judged Israel eight years.
Verse Commentary:
Abdon was the eleventh judge (Judges 2:16) mentioned in the book of Judges. He served from his home in the hill country of Ephraim. He seems to have ruled during a time of relative peace and prosperity, at least—or especially—for him and his family.

In contrast to men like Jephthah (Judges 11:30–31, 34–35) Abdon was blessed by the Lord with many sons. He is said to have had forty sons and thirty grandsons, each with his own donkey. This implies that Abdon was wealthy. To outfit every male for three generations with a donkey of his own would have been a costly enterprise. The second implication is that Abdon's sons and grandsons may have been involved with him in serving as judge over Israel, as they traveled from place to place on their donkeys.
Verse Context:
Judges 12:8–15 briefly names three men who follow Jephthah as judges. These, along with men like Shamgar (Judges 3:31), Tola (Judges 10:1), and Jair (Judges 10:3) are sometimes called "minor" or "secondary" judges since so little is known about them. This passage mentions Ibzan of Bethlehem, Elon of Zebulun, and Abdon of Pirathon.
Chapter Summary:
Jephthah's controversial term as judge continues. The men of Ephraim arrive, armed for war and demanding to know why they weren't invited to fight against the Ammonites. They insult Gilead and threaten Jephthah. Jephthah's army defeats them and cuts off their escape back to Ephraim. A tragic number of Ephraimites are killed in the civil war between the two peoples of Israel. Jephthah dies and is followed by three lesser-known judges: Ibzan of Bethlehem, Elon the Zebulunite, and Abdon of Pirathon.
Chapter Context:
Judges 12 follows Jephthah's terrible task of fulfilling his foolish vow, which costs him his only child. Now he faces an unexpected confrontation from the men of Ephraim. They cross over the Jordan from the west, threatening to kill Jephthah for not including them in the fight against the Ammonites and taunting the people of Gilead. Jephthah defeats the men of Ephraim, killing many in a civil war. Jephthah is followed as judge by Ibzan of Bethlehem, Elon the Zebulunite, and Abdon of Pirathon. This leads to the introduction of another infamous biblical figure: Samson.
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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