Chapter 57 
The Judge Izban [Judges 12.8-12.10]


Scripture: Judges 12.8-10(KJV)

Ibzan, who had thirty sons and thirty daughters

8 And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.
9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.
10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.



We have between the Judgeships of Jephthah and Samson a short account of the short reigns of three more of the judges of Israel, the first is Izban who governed for seven years, Chapter 57; the second is Elon who governed for ten years, Chapter 58; and the third is Abdon who governed for eight years; Chapter 59. For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof; But by men of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. Prov 28:2 (ASV) You will notice that we don’t know much about these men.

8 And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.—Judges 12.8(KJV)
8 And after him Ibzan of Beth-lehem judged Israel.—Judges 12.8(ASV)

And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.
"After him"
means "after Jephthah," the preceding judge. There were two Bethlehems, one in the tribe of Zebulun, [1](Joshua 19:15), which some think this man was from, though it is only mentioned once; and another in the tribe of Judah, the city of Jesse and David, and of the Messiah; and Josephus says, Ibzan was of the tribe of Judah, of the city of Bethlehem; and because Boaz, the husband of Ruth, was from the same place, and lived in the times of the judges, the Jewish Rabbis are of the opinion that he is the same man, Ibzan; both Jarchi and Ben Gersom agree. Keil denied that this was the Bethlehem in Judah on the basis that, "That Bethlehem is usually distinguished as `Bethlehem Judah' [2](Ruth 1:2) or as `Bethlehem Ephratah' [3](Micah 5:1)." In our view this is not sufficient reason for setting aside the plain statement of Josephus that, "When Jephthah was dead, Ibzan took the government, being of the tribe of Judah and of the city of Bethlehem." Josephus also declared that, "Ibzan did nothing in his seven years of administration that was worth recording or deserved a memorial." The same thing can be said about Elon and Abdon, and earlier there was the case of Tola and Jair (see the remarks on Judges 10:1).

The name Izban means “swift horse.” Perhaps he was a fast runner, owned a fast race horse or had a face like a horse. Your guess is as good as mine. Izban, Elon, and Abdon were one after another successors of Jephthah, and therefore their office of judge may have extended simply over the tribes on the east of the Jordan, and perhaps the northern tribes on this side.

It appears that during the administration of Jephthah, six years-Ibzan, seven years-Elon, ten years-and Abdon, eight years, (in total, thirty-one years), Israel had peace; and we will find by the following chapters that during this time of rest they corrupted themselves, and afterwards they were delivered to the power of the Philistines. When times are good, man is his own worst enemy.

___________________________verse 8 notes_______________________

[1](Joshua 19:15; NKJV) Included were Kattath, Nahallal, Shimron, Idalah, and Bethlehem: twelve cities with their villages. Bethlehem (The house of bread); a different place from that in which our Lord was born.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[2](Ruth 1:2; ASV)  Ephrathites -- The ancient name of Beth-lehem was Ephrath (Ge 35:19 Ge 48:7And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehem-judah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.), which was continued after the occupation of the land by the Hebrews, even down to the time of the prophet Micah (Mic 5:2). Beth-lehem-judah -- so called to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Zebulun. —Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[3](Micah 5:1; ASV) But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. Beth-lehem Ephratah -- (Ge 48:7), or, Beth-lehem Judah; so called to distinguish it from Beth-lehem in Zebulun. It is a few miles southwest of Jerusalem. Beth-lehem means "the house of bread"; Ephratah means "fruitful": both names referring to the fertility of the region.—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.—Judges 12.2(KJV)
9 And he had thirty sons; and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. —Judges 12.9 (ASV)

And he had thirty sons and thirty daughters…
It was a very uncommon situation for a man to have so many children, and especially for the number of male children to be the same as the number of female children. There was a great difference between the former judge, Jephthah, and Ibzan, in respect of this situation concerning children; he had just one daughter, an only child; and she, because of his vow, was not allowed to marry; whereas, Ibzan had many children—like the children’s fable; there was an old lady who lived in a shoe; she had so many children she didn’t know what to do. But Izban had a plan; he married them off. God, in his all wise Providence, makes a difference among good men (we can only assume Izban was a good man.), when it comes to children. But I do have a problem with this man; 60 children identifies him as a polygamist. Some of the Old Testament saints had more than one wife, but God did not approve of it, and in every case there was trouble in the home. Remember: Just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean that God approved of it, and He never approved of polygamy.

We are amazed at the following ridiculous comment by Dalglish: "The inclusion of the last three minor judges at this juncture may have been occasioned by the judgment of the editor that they flourished later than the previously mentioned judges, though we have no DATA to support the contention." Such a comment rejects the Biblical record as only "data," despite the fact that it is backed up firmly by Josephus. There is no more dependable "data" than the concurring testimony of these two sources!

whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons;
He sent his daughters abroad, or gave them in marriage, to persons that were not from his nation, or tribe; they married men from outside their tribe, and he sent them away to live with their husbands. Likewise, his sons were married to daughters from one of the other eleven tribes that made up the nation of Israel and it seems that they all lived together; it was the custom then for sons, though married, to live with their father. Abarbinel says this is the custom at Zenobia unto this day.

But why did Izban insist that his children accept spouses from abroad (from one of the other tribes)? It was to form alliances and political ties with the prominent families within the other tribes.

He ruled for only seven years, but by the number of his children, and him making certain that all are married, it appears that he lived a long time; and probably the size of his family, and the numerous alliances he made, added to his personal worth, made him more suitable to be either chosen by the people as Jephthah was, or called by God, as Gideon was, to be Israel's judge; to keep carrying on the work of God among them.

What is remarkable about this man is this:
1. That he had many children, sixty in all, a quiver full of these arrows. Here was Bethlehem of old, the very city where he was born whose spiritual seed should be as the stars of heaven.
2. That he had an equal number of each sex, thirty sons and thirty daughters, a thing which does not often happen in the same family, yet, in the great family of mankind, He that made the first two, male and female, by his wise providence preserves a succession of both sexes in some sort of equality in order to populate the generations of men upon the earth.
3. That he took the responsibility to see to it that they are all married. He sent His daughters abroad; the Latin is et maritis dedit--he provided husbands for them. And  he took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. The expression “took in” seems to imply that he took them home for the purpose of being his son’s wives. The Jews say, “Every father owes three things to his son: to teach him to read the law, give him a trade, and get him a wife.” Once again, what a difference between his and his predecessor's family! Ibzan had sixty children, and all married: Jephthah had one, and she dies unmarried. Some are increased, others diminished: all is the Lord's doing.
4. That through the marriage of his children he was able to strengthen his position as Judge in Israel. However, no specific reason is given for his seeking spouses for his sixty offspring, from outside his tribe, Judah.

and he judged Israel seven years;
It does not appear that anything of note took place in the nation of Israel during the time of these latter judges; nothing is said concerning their administration, whether it was good or bad; nor is anything mentioned about the state of religion. It is likely that they enjoyed a peaceful life, and their judges were capable of preventing discord and sedition. Yet, almost certainly, God was at work among them, though there were none to record the operations either of His hand or His Spirit; but the people who feared him no doubt bore testimony to His grace and mercy.

10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.—Judges 12.3 (KJV)
10 And Ibzan died, and was buried at Beth-lehem.—Judges 12:10 (ASV)

Then died Ibzan, and was buried in Bethlehem.
He died at the end of his seven years of government, and was buried in his hometown; nothing memorable having happened during his time as judge. This is all that is recorded of him.


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