Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon were minor judges of Israel mentioned briefly in the Old Testament book of Judges. Here is a detailed look at what the Bible tells us about each one:
Tola was the seventh judge over Israel, and he judged for 23 years (Judges 10:1-2). He was from the tribe of Issachar and lived in the town of Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. The Bible doesn’t tell us much else about Tola, but it does say that he arose to deliver Israel after Abimelech’s wicked rule. Tola seems to have been a righteous leader who brought some measure of peace and stability to Israel for over two decades.
After Tola died, Jair the Gileadite judged Israel for 22 years (Judges 10:3-5). He had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys and controlled 30 towns in the land of Gilead. These towns became known as the Towns of Jair. Like Tola, the Bible doesn’t give many details about Jair’s rule over Israel. But we can infer that he kept Israel safe from foreign oppressors. He likely maintained the peace that began under Tola’s leadership.
Following Jair, Ibzan from Bethlehem judged Israel for 7 years (Judges 12:8-10). He had 30 sons and 30 daughters whom he arranged marriages for outside his clan. This seems to indicate he was a powerful and influential man in his day. Ibzan likely continued the spirit of peace and stability established under Tola and Jair. The brief mention of him suggests he governed Israel well.
The ninth judge of Israel was Elon the Zebulunite, who judged for 10 years (Judges 12:11-12). Beyond this, nothing more is known about his reign. His tribal affiliation indicates he was from the northern tribe of Zebulun. Like Tola, Jair and Ibzan before him, Elon maintained peace and order throughout Israel.
Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, was the tenth judge over Israel (Judges 12:13-15). He had 40 sons and 30 grandsons who rode on 70 donkeys. Abdon led Israel for 8 years before dying and being buried in Pirathon. Little else is known about him, but we can surmise he was a influential man who kept Israel secure from threats during his judgeship.
In summary, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon were five minor Judges of Israel who maintained peace, stability and security for Israel in between some of the more famous and colorful judges like Gideon, Jephthah and Samson. They exemplified wise and steady leadership, albeit brief, keeping Israel on track in following the Lord during their lifetimes (Judges 2:16-19).
Though we don’t have many details about these judges, what the Bible does tell us is important. Their examples remind us that faithfulness to God brings blessing, and He uses all sorts of ordinary people to advance His purposes. Godly character is more important than fame or bold exploits. Even these little-known judges played crucial roles shepherding God’s people.
The relative obscurity of Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon teaches us to be faithful in small things. Not every servant of God will be remembered by history. But even obscure figures, through steadfast obedience over a lifetime, can powerfully influence their generation and bring honor to God’s name. Their righteous influence may extend over decades or even centuries, as did these judges.
As we seek to follow Christ, we don’t have to occupy positions of power or prominence for our lives to count. Like these judges, we can make an eternal impact through steadfast integrity, wise leadership and faithfulness to God in the daily details of life. Small things done with great love please the Lord and lend stability to society.
The judgeship of Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon remind us that faithfully fulfilling our calling over a long obedience in the same direction bears fruit that may only be fully known in eternity. God sees and rewards our persevering service, even if no one else notices. May we find encouragement from the quiet legacy left by these five judges to simply do the next right thing each day.
In a world seeking power, pleasure and fame, the humble obedience of Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon stands in stark contrast. Though largely forgotten by history, their righteous influence continues to this day through the pages of Scripture. For God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
As Hebrews 11 notes, the world is not worthy of the faith-filled saints who live simply for God’s glory. Though most will never know their names, their lives are not wasted. Streams of blessing flow from those who walk uprightly, do justly, and love mercy. May we keep step today with Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon on the ancient path – humble and obscure, but honorable in God’s sight.
In closing, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon were five minor judges who led Israel for around 70 years combined. They modeled wisdom and faithfulness during their seasons of leadership. As men of character, they honored God and blessed Israel through decades of stable governance. Though little-known, we can follow their example by embracing humble service and steady obedience to God’s calling in our lives today.