The Judges in the Bible were great rulers and heroes whom God raised to fight for Israel. Among the judges in the Bible, Tola was the seventh who was from the tribe of Issachar. The judges in the Bible were involved in legal matters and filled the role of military leaders, freeing the nation from foreign occupation and repression. Most of the judges in the Bible were godfearing people, but some of them lacked devotion to God at certain points in their lives.
The Unknown History of Tola — Judges in the Bible
Tola was a minor judge who led Israel for 23 years (1149 B.C.-1126 B.C.) until he died. He was the grandson of Dodo and the son of Puah. He lived in the hill country of Ephraim in the town of Shamir. He succeeded Abimelech, who was the son of Gideon’s concubine, whose three-year reign of terror threw Israel into chaos.
Tola was a legitimate judge who saved Israel from their foes after Abimelech’s three-year tyrannical and maniacal rule (approx. 1151-1149 B.C.)
Brief Backstory of Abimelech
Gideon had 70 sons, and one of them was Abimelech, who was born to his Shechemite concubine. The meaning of Abimelech is “my father is king.” Abimelech was a wicked man who slaughtered all of Gideon’s sons on a stone except Jotham, who escaped. He wanted to establish a monarchy and proclaim himself king. He was made king by the people of Shechem near the plain of the pillar.
Later, he fought against Shechem and took the city, and slaughtered everyone. He sowed the city with salt after beating it down. He was severely injured in the town of Thebez during the siege of its tower when a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon his head and broke his skull. However, not willing to die at the hands of a woman, he asked his armourbearer to slay him. He died when the young man slews him with his sword. He died fighting against his people.
The Rise and Reign of Tola
When Tola rose to defend Israel, the situation in the country was very unstable and unpredictable. The Bible does not tell us from what Tola saved the nation of Israel from. It might have been from the neighboring countries or warring factions in the nation.
According to the Scriptures, Tola (Hebrew: תּוֹלָע) judged Israel after the death of Abimelech. His name means “Crimson worm” or “scarlet stuff.” It refers to the color of the kermes dye produced from a scale insect, Kermes vermilio. It is also used to describe the expensive cloth that was used in the Tabernacle of the congregation.
Not much is written about him in the scriptures and none of his deeds or events in his life are recorded. He lived and died in Shamir in Mount Ephraim, where he was also buried. Though he was from the tribe of Issachar, he lived in a different part of Israel and not in the land allocated by Moses to his tribe. He was succeeded by another judge, Jair, a Gileadite.
His life and times are described in two brief biblical verses (Judges 10:1-2). His career as a judge is barely mentioned, but he had a relatively long tenure. The minor judges in the Bible about whom little information is available, illustrate the fact that every region of Israel participated in the emancipation of the nation during these difficult times in the history of Israel.
Our series on Bible heroes, who trusted God in the middle of difficult times, were powerfully used by the Almighty despite their faults and failings, will inspire you to believe the Supreme Being for the impossible.