The wonderful shadows of Jair and his sons

Judges 10:3-4: “After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years. And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead.”

In the verses above we have all that the Bible tells us about the judge Jair, Israel’s savior, if you will, that arose after the previous judge, Tola, had died.  Interestingly and uniquely, the Bible tells us some tidbits of information about Jair’s sons.  So, is there anything here for us in this day and age that the account of this Old Testament judge points to that is demonstrated in our Savior, Jesus? 

Well, let’s start with the name of this judge.  The word Jair means “enlightenment” or “he enlightens.” What an apt name to point to our Savior, the One who is the very Light of the World (John 8:12).  As Jesus began His ministry in the region of Galilee, we are told in Matthew 4:12-16 that that ministry was a fulfillment of the prophesy from Isaiah 9:2 that “the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”  What a picture of the blessings that our Savior bestows on us at the moment of our salvation.  It is then, for the first time, that we can see spiritually.  It is then that we see who Jesus really is, what life really is, and what the things that really matter for all eternity are.  It is then that God first opens His Word so that it becomes “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).” And it is then that the very light of Christ is reflected in the lives of all believers so that we become the very “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16) as we share the gospel with our words and our lives. 

But notice the other things we are told about Jair and how these things, likewise, give us a picture of the wonderful things that accrue to the lives of those who are saved by the Savior of the world. For example, we are told that Jair had 30 sons.  Isn’t it a glorious thing that in salvation we are not just saved from the wrath of God to come, but we become the very sons of God, for hasn’t the Lord said to us “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me” (2 Corinthians 6:18). Every one of us has been brought into the exalted position of being in the family of God.  What a glorious truth this is. 

Then note that the sons of Jair all rode upon donkeys.  It was the mark of the sons of the judges, but isn’t that a curious thing?  We are reminded of Jesus who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as He fulfilled the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9, which says this “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In the description of Jair’s sons, we see a shadow of the truth that the sons of God have become the sons of the King. As a part of His family we are told that “we will also reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).” And so we are raised from what we were formerly, i.e., sinners at enmity with God, to the position of being ushered into God’s family as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  What an exalted and wonderful position this is.

Yet, notice that by riding on a donkey as He entered Jerusalem rather than on a war horse as did the Roman leaders, Jesus expressed His great humility. And so would our Savior have us as His royal sons and daughters not become prideful in this exaltation but demonstrate His incredible humility.  Our Lord has exalted us not so that we become haughty with an attitude that we are in any way better than those who are not in His kingdom, but that as His children, we be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). And in that conformation we are to “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Finally, notice that the sons of Jair all had a city, every one of them.  Do you realize that we as sons and daughters of the Savior have a city as well? We are all, every single one of us, told to be “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). And as Jesus told us in John 14 “I have gone to prepare a place for you,” as he points our eternal home, to “Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). Isn’t that an awesome thing?  Isn’t the shadow of Jair and his sons a wonderful shadow of our Savior and our incredible relationship to Him.  In the words of the well-known hymn, “What a wonderful savior is Jesus, my Jesus! What a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!”

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