Judges 9

Abimelech's Conspiracy

Now Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to his mother’s brothers at Shechem and said to them and all the clan of his mother, “Please ask all the leaders of Shechem, ‘ . . . Is it better for you that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and blood.” And when his mother’s brothers spoke all these words about him in the presence of all the leaders of Shechem, their hearts were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” So they gave him seventy [shekels]
That is, about 1.76 pounds or 798 grams
of silver from the temple of Baal-berith, with which Abimelech hired some worthless and reckless men to follow him.
He went to his father’s house in Ophrah, and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid himself. Then all the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo gathered beside the oak at the pillar in Shechem and proceeded to make Abimelech [their] king.

Jotham's Parable

When this was reported to Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and cried out : “Listen to me, O leaders of Shechem, and may God listen to you. One day the trees set out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree replied, ‘Should I stop giving my oil that honors both God and man, to hold sway over the trees?’ 10  Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and reign over us.’ 11  But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I stop giving my sweetness and my good fruit, to hold sway over the trees?’ 12  Then the trees said to the grapevine, ‘Come and reign over us.’ 13  But the grapevine replied, ‘Should I stop giving my wine that cheers [both] God and man, to hold sway over the trees?’ 14  Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and reign over us.’ 15  But the thornbush replied , ‘If you really are anointing me as king over you, come and find refuge in my shade. But if not, may fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon.” 16  Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal and his family, and if you have done to him as he deserves— 17  for my father fought for you and risked his life to deliver you from the hand of Midian, 18  but you have risen up against my father's house this day and killed his seventy sons on a single stone, and you have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the leaders of Shechem because he is your brother— 19  if you have acted faithfully and honestly toward Jerubbaal and his house this day, [then] may you rejoice in Abimelech, and he in you. 20  But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.” 21  Then Jotham ran away, escaping to Beer, and he lived there for fear of his brother Abimelech.

Gaal Conspires with the Shechemites

22  After Abimelech had reigned over Israel for three years, 23  God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem and caused them to treat Abimelech deceitfully, 24  in order that the crime against the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the leaders of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. 25  The leaders of Shechem set an ambush against [Abimelech] on the hilltops, and they robbed all who passed by them on the road. So this was reported to Abimelech. 26  Meanwhile, Gaal son of Ebed came with his brothers and crossed into Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27  And after they had gone out into the fields, gathered [grapes] from their vineyards, and trodden [them] , they held a festival and went into the house of their god; and as they ate and drank, they cursed Abimelech. 28  Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? You are to serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech? 29  If only this people were under my authority, I would remove Abimelech; I would say
LXX; Hebrew and he said
to [him] , ‘Muster your army and come out!’”

The Fall of Shechem

30  When Zebul the governor of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he burned with anger. 31  So he covertly sent messengers to Abimelech to say, “Look, Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem and are stirring up
Or besieging or closing up
the city against you.
32  Now then, tonight you and the people with you are to come and lie in wait in the fields. 33  And in the morning at sunrise, get up and advance against the city. When [Gaal] and his men come out against you, do to them whatever you are able.” 34  So Abimelech and all his troops set out by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. 35  Now Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelech and his men came out from their hiding places. 36  When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountains!” But Zebul replied, “The shadows of the mountains look like men to you.” 37  Then Gaal spoke up again, “Look, people are coming down from the center of the land,
The Hebrew for this phrase means the navel of the earth
and one company is coming by way of the Diviners’ Oak.”
38  “Where is your gloating now?” Zebul replied. “You said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the people you ridiculed? Go out now and fight them!” 39  So Gaal went out before the leaders of Shechem and fought against Abimelech, 40  but Abimelech pursued him, and Gaal fled before him. And many [Shechemites] fell wounded all the way to the entrance of the gate. 41  Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem. 42  The next day the people [of Shechem] went out into the fields, and this was reported to Abimelech. 43  So he took his men, divided them into three companies, and waited in ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose up against them and attacked them. 44  Then Abimelech and the companies with him rushed forward and took their stand at the entrance of the city gate. The other two companies rushed against all who [were] in the fields and struck them down. 45  And all that day Abimelech fought against the city until he had captured it and killed its people . Then he demolished the city and sowed it with salt. 46  On hearing of this, all the leaders in the tower of Shechem entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith. 47  And when it was reported to Abimelech that all the leaders in the tower of Shechem were gathered there, 48  he and all his men went up to Mount Zalmon. Abimelech took his ax in his hand and cut a branch from the trees, which he lifted to his shoulder, saying to his men , “Hurry and do what you have seen me do.” 49  So each man also cut his own branch and followed Abimelech. Then they piled [the branches] against the inner chamber and set it on fire above them, killing everyone in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women.

Abimelech's Punishment

50  Then Abimelech went to Thebez, encamped against it, and captured it. 51  But there was a strong tower inside the city, and all the men, women, and leaders of the city fled there. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof of the tower. 52  When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he approached its entrance to set it on fire. 53  But a woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. 54  He quickly called his armor-bearer, saying, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So Abimelech’s armor-bearer ran [his sword] through him, and he died. 55  And when the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home. 56  In this way God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57  And God also brought back upon their own heads all the evil of the men of Shechem. So the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal came upon them.
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