Grandson of Dodo
“After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years; and he died and was buried in Shamir” (Judges 10:1-2).
The above Scripture contains all we know about Tola, the sixth Judge of Israel. He was the son of Puah, the grandson of Dodo, and from the tribe of Issachar. He lived in Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. He was a judge for 23 years. He died and he was buried.
After reading the more-lengthy accounts of some of the judges that preceded Tola such as Deborah and Gideon, I found myself wanting to know more about him. What kind of judge was he? What notable events occurred during those twenty-three years that Tola judged? What about other events in Tola’s life? Why are we told so little about Tola?
Unfortunately, we know even less about his father and grandfather. Judges 10:1 is the only reference to these two men, Puah and Dodo. They were descendants of Issachar and the father and grandfather, respectively, of Tola who judged Israel 23 years.
While one must be careful in reading between the lines of Scripture, I can’t help but wonder if the lack of information about Tola could be simply because there wasn’t anything spectacular to report. Perhaps Tola simply obeyed God and did what God called him to do. Tola came on to the scene at a very difficult time. We are not told of any significant oppressive activities occurring, but Israel is in the middle of a civil uproar. Gideon, the preceding judge, had 70 sons, one of which was Abimelech. When Gideon died, the children of Israel once again became disobedient and turned away from the Lord. Abimelech planned a murderous conspiracy whereby all of Gideon’s sons (except Jotham who escaped) would be killed and Abimelech would be made king. Although not a real king, Abimelech ruled poorly for three years. His downfall occurred when the harmony between Abimelech and the men of Shechem who had supported Abimelech’s grab of power, began to fall apart. The ensuing struggle between the two factions eventually resulted in Abimelech’s death. One can only imagine the problems that such an uprising undoubtedly dealt the nation of Israel. They needed someone to save and unify them, and to turn them back to God. And God raised up Tola.
The next three verses similarly recount another judge that God raised up. “After him arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called “Havoth Jair” to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Camon” (Judges 10:3-5).
These few verses about these two judges remind me that sometimes God needs a Gideon or a Deborah and sometimes He needs a Tola or Jair. God knows His children, their talents, gifts and abilities. He knows their struggles and their needs. But He also knows what each one can be when we allow Him to work in and through us. We often tend to think that the truly called of God are the famous, well-known individuals such as Abraham, Moses or King David, or in our world today, the well-known evangelists and teachers. But God calls and raises up each of His children, equipping and enabling them to be the answer to someone’s need – whether it be an entire nation, a church, or perhaps a single child. He raises us up to use our heritage, our experiences, our abilities and possessions to do what He calls us to do. Sometimes our callings may lead to notable accomplishments that can fill pages, while at other times the things we do may affect few or go completely unrecognized. But God has a purpose of each of His children. As David exclaimed in Psalm 138:8a: “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”
Just as God had a purpose for David the King, He also had a purpose for Tola. And down through the ages He has raised up men and women to fulfill His purposes for each particular time and place. The same is true today. God still has work for us to do, but are we seeking and listening to Him or are we allowing all the competing voices in the world to drown Him out? I love the lyrics to the contemporary hymn “You Raise Me Up” performed by Josh Groban. The lyrics for the two stanzas and chorus go something like the following:
“You Raise Me Up”
When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.
There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.
Oh, how we need to invite our Heavenly Father to come and sit with us. How we need to allow Him to fill us with wonder as we catch a glimpse of Him and His desire for us. For it is then that He can raise you and me up, too. And then, whether our accomplishments fill pages, or like the grandson of Dodo; people just know that we lived, we died, and that God raised us up, that will be enough!