Judges 10:4
And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.
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(4) Had thirty sons.—An indication of his rank and position, which assumed an ostentatious polygamy. (Comp. Judges 8:30.)

That rode on thirty ass colts.—Comp. Judges 5:10; see on Judges 12:14. Implying that Jair was able to bring up his numerous household in wealth. The horse was little used in Palestine—for which, indeed, it is little suited—till the days of Solomon (1Kings 4:26), and its introduction was always discouraged by the prophets (Deuteronomy 17:16; Joshua 11:6-9; Psalm 33:17, &c). There is a curious play of words on Jair (yair), “ass-colts” (ayārîm), and “cities,” which ought to be arîm, but is purposely altered for the sake of the paronomasia. (See on Judges 15:16.) Such plays on words in serious narratives point to a very early form of literature—but probably they then rose from some popular proverb. The LXX., like Josephus, writing for Gentiles, who did not understand the value attached to asses in Palestine, almost always euphemise the word into “colts,” or “foals” (pōlous), which here enables them happily to keep up the play of words with “cities” (poleis).

Thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair.—Havoth means villages (LXX., epauleis), and since they are here called “cities,” and thirty are named, we must suppose that this Jair (if he was a different person from the other) had increased the number of the villages originally wrested from Og from twenty-three to thirty (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14; 1Chronicles 2:22. In the latter passage the Jair there mentioned is spoken of as a son of Segub, and a great-grandson of Manasseh).

Unto this day.Judges 1:26.

10:1-5 Quiet and peaceable reigns, though the best to live in, yield least variety of matter to be spoken of. Such were the days of Tola and Jair. They were humble, active, and useful men, rulers appointed of God.Jair the Gileadite was probably the same person as is named in Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14, as having given the name of "Havoth-jair" to certain villages in Bashan. 4. he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts—This is a characteristic trait of Eastern manners in those early times; and the grant of a village to each of his thirty sons was a striking proof of his extensive possessions. His having thirty sons is no conclusive evidence that he had more than one wife, much less that he had more than one at a time. There are instances, in this country, of men having as many children by two successive wives. Rode on ass colts, because horses were scarce there, and were not to be multiplied by the king himself, Deu 17:16. Hence their kings and kings’ children used to ride upon mules, 2 Samuel 13:29 18:9 1 Kings 1:33,38,39. Compare Judges 5:10 12:14.


Object. These villages were called so before this time from another

Jair, Numbers 32:41 Deu 3:14.

Answ. They are not said to be now first called by that name, but to be still so called, because the old name was revived and confirmed upon this occasion; as Sheba is said to be called Beer-sheba, upon an occasion mentioned Genesis 26:33, though it was so called before upon a more ancient occasion, Genesis 21:31. Possibly this Jair had enlarged or fortified these towns, and so they were justly denominated from him, no less than from the former.

And he had thirty sons that rode upon thirty ass colts,.... Which to ride on in those times was reckoned honourable, and on which judges rode in their circuit, Judges 5:10 and such might be these sons of Jair, who were appointed under him to ride about, and do justice in the several parts of the country, as Samuel's sons were judges under him, 1 Samuel 8:1,

and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead; or the villages of Jair. There were some of this name that belonged to Jair, a son of Manasseh, in the times of Moses, Numbers 32:41 and these may be the same, at least some of them; for they were but twenty three he had, whereas these were thirty, 1 Chronicles 2:22 and these coming by inheritance to this Jair, a descendant of the former, and he being of the same name, and these cities perhaps repaired and enlarged by him, the name of them was continued and established, for it is not reasonable to suppose, as some have done, that this is the same Jair that lived in the times of Moses, who, if so, must have lived more than three hundred years, an age men did not live to in those times.

And he had thirty sons that {a} rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair unto this day, which are in the land of Gilead.

(a) Signifying, they were men of authority.

4. he had thirty sons] Cf. Jdg 12:9; Jdg 12:14. The ‘sons’ are expressly connected with the thirty settlements of the clan. Numerous descendants indicated power and wealth.

that rode on thirty ass colts] A mark of rank; cf. Jdg 12:14, 2 Kings 4:22, Zechariah 9:9; see on Jdg 5:10.

Havvoth-jair] i.e. tent-villages (LXX ἐπαύλεις) of Jair; cf. Arab. ḥiwâ = ‘a group of tents near together.’ Long after the tents of nomads had given place to permanent dwellings or ‘cities’ the old name still survived. The Havvoth-jair are frequently mentioned, but the accounts of them are not all consistent. Here and in Numbers 32:41 they are said to have been situated in Gilead; 1 Kings 4:13 (prob. borrowed from Num. l.c.) and 1 Chronicles 2:22 agree with this. But according to Deuteronomy 3:14, followed by Joshua 13:30, they lay in Bashan; the statement, however, seems to be due to an attempt to harmonize Deuteronomy 3:13 f. with Numbers 32:39; Numbers 32:41 (Driver, Deut., p. 55). Again, the capture and naming of these towns is dated in different periods, in the time of Moses according to Num. l.c., and in the time of the Judges here. But the inconsistency lies only on the surface. Numbers 32:39-42 is an ancient fragment incorporated into a later account (JE and P) of the conquest of E. Jordan, apparently for the purpose of bringing Manasseh’s occupation of this district within the Mosaic period; the fragment closely resembles the brief traditions preserved in Judges 1 and may be taken to refer to the same period, viz. that of the Judges, to which the present verse assigns the episode. Later on the Havvoth-jair seem to have passed into the hands of another race, cf. 1 Chronicles 2:23 (RV.), which probably reflects the conditions of a subsequent age. The difference in the numbers of the villages, thirty, thirty-two (LXX here), twenty-three (1 Chronicles 2:22), is not important.

Verse 4. - Thirty ass colts. The number and dignity of these knightly sons of Jair shows that Jair himself, like Gideon (Judges 8:30), assumed the state of a prince. The word in Hebrew for ass colts is identical with that for cities, as here pointed, and this play upon the words belongs to the same turn of mind as produced Jotham s fable and Samson's riddle (Judges 14:14). Judges 10:4After him Jair the Gileadite (born in Gilead) judged Israel for twenty-two years. Nothing further is related of him than that he had thirty sons who rode upon thirty asses, which was a sign of distinguished rank in those times when the Israelites had no horses. They had thirty cities (the second עירים in Judges 10:4 is another form for ערים, from a singular עיר equals עיר, a city, and is chosen because of its similarity in sound to עירים, asses). These cities they were accustomed to call Havvoth-jair unto this day (the time when our book was written), in the land of Gilead. The להם before יקראוּ is placed first for the sake of emphasis, "even these they call," etc. This statement is not at variance with the fact, that in the time of Moses the Manassite Jair gave the name of Havvoth-jair to the towns of Bashan which had been conquered by him (Numbers 32:41; Deuteronomy 3:14); for it is not affirmed here, that the thirty cities which belonged to the sons of Jair received this name for the first time from the judge Jair, but simply that this name was brought into use again by the sons of Jair, and was applied to these cities in a peculiar sense. (For further remarks on the Havvoth-jair, see at Deuteronomy 3:14.) The situation of Camon, where Jair was buried, is altogether uncertain. Josephus (Ant. v. 6, 6) calls it a city of Gilead, though probably only on account of the assumption, that it would not be likely that Jair the Gileadite, who possessed so many cities in Gilead, should be buried outside Gilead. But this assumption is a very questionable one. As Jair judged Israel after Tola the Issacharite, the assumption is a more natural one, that he lived in Canaan proper. Yet Reland (Pal. ill. p. 679) supports the opinion that it was in Gilead, and adduces the fact that Polybius (Hist. v. 70, 12) mentions a town called Καμοῦν, by the side of Pella and Gefrun, as having been taken by Antiochus. On the other hand, Eusebius and Jerome (in the Onom.) regard our Camon as being the same as the κώμη Καμμωνὰ ἐν τῷ μεγάΛῳ πεδίῳ, six Roman miles to the north of Legio (Lejun), on the way to Ptolemais, which would be in the plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon. This is no doubt applicable to the Κυαμών of Judith 7:3; but whether it also applies to our Camon cannot be decided, as the town is not mentioned again.
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