Judges Chapter 9  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Judg 9
Abimelech's Conspiracy

1And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s brothers, and spoke to them and to all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying,
  2“Please speak in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all the sons of Jerubbaal, who are 70 men, rule over you, or that one man rules over you? And remember that I am your bone and your flesh.”
  3And his mother’s brothers spoke all these words about him in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.”
  4So they gave him 70 pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith and with them Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him.
  5And he went to his father’s house, to Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, 70 men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.
  6All the leaders of Shechem assembled themselves together, and all Beth-millo, and went and made Abimelech king by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem.

Jotham’s Parable

7When they told Jotham about it, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and lifted up his voice and cried out and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you.
  8“One day the trees went out to anoint a king over themselves. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign as king over us.’

9But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my rich oil which, by me, they honor God and man, and go to sway back and forth over the trees?’
  10“So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign as king over us.’
  11But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to sway back and forth over the trees?’
  12“So the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign as king over us.’
  13But the vine said to them, ‘Should I stop producing my new wine that cheers God and man, and go to sway back and forth over the trees?’
  14“So all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign as king over us.’
  15And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in faithfulness you are anointing me as king over you, come, take refuge in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”

16“So now, if you have dealt faithfully and righteously when you made Abimelech king, and if you have done well by Jerubbaal and his house and have acted in accordance with the dealings of his hands—
  17for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you out of the hand of Midian,
  18but you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have slain his sons, 70 men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your brother—
  19if you have dealt faithfully and righteously with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech and let him also rejoice in you.
  20But if not, may fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.”
  21Then Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer, and lived there, away from the face of Abimelech his brother.

The Downfall of Abimelech

22And Abimelech governed over Israel three years.
  23Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,
  24so that the violence done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come and that their bloodguilt might be laid on Abimelech their brother who had killed them, and on the leaders of Shechem who had strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.
  25So the leaders of Shechem set an ambush for him on the tops of the mountains and they robbed all who passed by them on the road. And this was reported to Abimelech.

26Then Gaal son of Ebed came with his brothers and moved into Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem put their trust in him.
  27And they went out into the field and harvested their vineyards and trod the grapes and held a celebration, and went into the house of their god and ate and drank, and reviled Abimelech.
  28Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal and Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem! Why should we serve him?
  29If only this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech.” And he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!”

30When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled,
  31and he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem, and behold, they incite the city against you.
  32Now therefore, go up at night, you and the people who are with you, and wait in ambush in the field:
  33and in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, start early and rush on the city, and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, then may you do to him whatever your hand finds to do.”
  34So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose up at night and they lay in ambush against Shechem in four companies.

35And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose up from the ambush.
  36When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Behold, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.” Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.”

37But Gaal spoke again and said, “Look, people are coming down by the navel of the land, and one company comes by the way of the oak of Meonenim.”
  38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Is this not the people for whom you have shown contempt? Now go out and fight them.”

39So Gaal went out before the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech.
  40But Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many fell wounded even as far as the entrance of the gate.
  41Abimelech lived at Arumah and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they could not live in Shechem.

42It came to pass on the next day that the people went out into the field, and Abimelech was told about it.
  43And he took the people and divided them into three companies and lay in ambush in the field, and he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose up against them and struck them.
  44Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and the two other companies rushed on all who were in the field and struck them.
  45Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.

46When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered into the underground chamber of the house of El-berith.
  47And it was reported to Abimelech that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem had gathered together.
  48So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him, and Abimelech took axes in his hand and cut down tree branches and picked them up and laid them on his shoulder, and he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done!”
  49So all the people also cut down, each one, his branch and followed Abimelech, and put them on the underground chamber and set the underground chamber on fire over them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died also, about 1,000 men and women.

50Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez, and captured it.
  51But there was a strong tower inside the city and all the men and women fled there, and all the leaders of the city, and shut themselves in and went up to the roof of the tower.
  52And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
  53But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.
  54Then he quickly called to the young man who was his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died.
  55When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, each one to his home.

56Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech that he did to his father in killing his 70 brothers;
  57and all the evil of the men of Shechem, God returned on their heads, and so on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

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