Judges chapter 9

Abimelech takes over. Jotham strikes back.

 


 

ABIMELECH TAKES OVER

 

VERSE 1. Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s brothers, and spoke with them and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,

Abimelech. Abimelech was a son of Gideon by a concubine:

Judges 8:31. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

went to Shechem. Shechem had been a significant religious center since the time of Abraham:

Genesis 12:6. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time, Canaanites were in the land.

Jerubbaal. That is, Gideon. In this chapter, Gideon is referred to as Jerubbaal.

The name means “Let Baal contend.” It is also written as “Jerub-Baal.”

 

VERSE 2. “Please speak in the ears of all the men of Shechem, ‘Is it better for you that all the sons of Jerubbaal, who are seventy persons, rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.”

one rule over you. Abimelech is trying to take over the leadership of Shechem.

 

VERSE 3. His mother’s brothers spoke of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words. Their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, “He is our brother.”

 

VERSE 4. They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal Berith, with which Abimelech hired vain and reckless fellows who followed him.

Abimelech hired vain and reckless fellows. He hires the worst people.

 

VERSE 5. He went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, being seventy persons, on one stone; but Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.

killed his brothers. Abimelech kills his 70 half-brothers.

on one stone. This suggests a mass public execution.

Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left. Jotham somehow escaped.

 

VERSE 6. All the men of Shechem assembled themselves together with all the house of Millo, and went and made Abimelech king by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem.

made Abimelech king. This is the dream of such a despicable character.

by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem. This impromptu coronation took place at the great tree. Maybe that was the tree visited by Abraham:

Genesis 12:6. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time, Canaanites were in the land.

 

JOTHAM STRIKES BACK

 

VERSE 7. When they told it to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and lifted up his voice, cried out, and said to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you.

Jotham. He is Gideon’s youngest son. He had escaped the public mass execution by Abimelech (see verse 5 above).

Listen to me … that God may listen to you. This is a preposterously strong claim.

 

VERSE 8. The trees set out to anoint a king over themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’

The trees set out to anoint a king. Jotham’s message is the first of the Bible’s few fables. A fable is a short story in which animals or inanimate objects, like trees, are personified.

 

VERSE 9. “But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my oil, with which they honor God and man by me, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’

Should I stop producing my oil. The olive tree is not willing to stop being productive.

The major point of Jotham’s parable is that only worthless people seek to lord it over others. Great individuals are too busy in useful tasks to seek places of authority.

 

VERSE 10. “The trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and reign over us.’

 

VERSE 11. “But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’

Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit. The fig tree is not willing to stop being productive.

The major point of Jotham’s parable is that only worthless people seek to lord it over others. Great individuals are too busy in useful tasks to seek places of authority.

 

VERSE 12. “The trees said to the vine, ‘Come and reign over us.’

 

VERSE 13. “The vine said to them, ‘Should I leave my new wine, which cheers God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’

Should I leave my new wine. The vine is not willing to stop being productive.

The major point of Jotham’s parable is that only worthless people seek to lord it over others. Great individuals are too busy in useful tasks to seek places of authority.

 

VERSE 14. “Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘Come and reign over us.’

said to the bramble. In desperation, the trees ask the thornbush to be their king.

 

VERSE 15. “The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

take refuge in my shade. Jotham is using irony. The shadow of a thornbush is tiny compared with the size of a tree.

 

VERSE 16. “Now therefore, if you have dealt truly and righteously, in that you have made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him according to the deserving of his hands

 

VERSE 17. (for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian;

 

VERSE 18. and you have risen up against my father’s house today and have slain his sons, seventy persons, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother);

 

VERSE 19. if you then have dealt truly and righteously with Jerubbaal and with his house today, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you;

 

VERSE 20. but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from the house of Millo and devour Abimelech.”

 

VERSE 21. Jotham ran away and fled, and went to Beer and lived there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

Jotham ran away and fled. Obviously Jotham’s challenge to the men of Shechem did not go well.

Beer. This is a Hebrew word for “well.” This village is named for its well.

 

VERSE 22. Abimelech was prince over Israel three years.

three years. That is a short time. But it was enough to set the stage for a revolt by the men of Shechem.

 

VERSE 23. Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

God sent an evil spirit. This provokes all sorts of questions:

  • Is the LORD God teamed up with the evil spirits?
  • Does the LORD God dispatch evil spirits to do his bidding?
  • Is the LORD God the source of evil?
  • Was there simply a sociological shift but the author used the fanciful term “evil spirit”?

 

VERSE 24. that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and that their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother who killed them, and on the men of Shechem who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.

 

VERSE 25. The men of Shechem set an ambush for him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who came along that way by them; and Abimelech was told about it.

they robbed all who came along that way by them. These men ambushed and robbed the caravans and other travelers on the strategic trade routes through Shechem.

This would reduce travel, and deprive Abimelech of tributes and tolls from travelers.

 

VERSE 26. Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their trust in him.

the men of Shechem put their trust in him. The ignorant people of Shechem found a new leader in Gaal son of Ebed.

 

VERSE 27. They went out into the field, harvested their vineyards, trod the grapes, celebrated, and went into the house of their god and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech.

 

VERSE 28. Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Isn’t he the son of Jerubbaal? Isn’t Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem, but why should we serve him?

 

VERSE 29. I wish that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech.” He said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!”

I wish that this people were under my hand! This is the dream of every despot. They want power. They dream of being in charge.

 

VERSE 30. When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger burned.

 

VERSE 31. He sent messengers to Abimelech craftily, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem; and behold, they incite the city against you.

 

VERSE 32. Now therefore, go up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field.

 

VERSE 33. It shall be that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early and rush on the city. Behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, then may you do to them as you shall find occasion.”

 

VERSE 34. Abimelech rose up, and all the people who were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.

 

VERSE 35. Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city. Abimelech rose up, and the people who were with him, from the ambush.

 

VERSE 36. When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Behold, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.” Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.”

 

VERSE 37. Gaal spoke again and said, “Behold, people are coming down by the middle of the land, and one company comes by the way of the oak of Meonenim.”

 

VERSE 38. Then Zebul said to him, “Now where is your mouth, that you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Isn’t this the people that you have despised? Please go out now and fight with them.”

 

VERSE 39. Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.

 

VERSE 40. Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many fell wounded, even to the entrance of the gate.

 

VERSE 41. Abimelech lived at Arumah; and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, that they should not dwell in Shechem.

 

VERSE 42. On the next day, the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.

 

VERSE 43. He took the people and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field; and he looked, and behold, the people came out of the city. So, he rose up against them and struck them.

 

VERSE 44. Abimelech and the companies that were with him rushed forward and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city; and the two companies rushed on all who were in the field and struck them.

 

VERSE 45. Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city and killed the people in it. He beat down the city and sowed it with salt.

 

VERSE 46. When all the men of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered into the stronghold of the house of Elberith.

 

VERSE 47. Abimelech was told that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.

 

VERSE 48. Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took an ax in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it up, and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done!”

 

VERSE 49. All the people likewise each cut down his bough, followed Abimelech, and put them at the base of the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

 

VERSE 50. Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez, and took it.

 

VERSE 51. But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women of the city fled there, and shut themselves in, and went up to the roof of the tower.

 

VERSE 52. Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and came near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire.

 

VERSE 53. A certain woman cast an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, and broke his skull.

 

VERSE 54. Then he called hastily to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, that men not say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ His young man thrust him through, and he died.”

 

VERSE 55. When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they each departed to his place.

 

VERSE 56. Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did to his father in killing his seventy brothers;

 

VERSE 57. and God repaid all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads; and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came on them.

 


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JUDGES

CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline, Memorize

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.