The Book of Judges

Chapter 9

Abimelech, by conspiracy with the Shechemites and murder of his brothers, is made king, 1-6. Jotham, by a parable, rebukes them and foretells their ruin, 7-21. Gaal conspires with the Shechemites against him, 22-29. Zebul reveals it, 30-33. Abimelech overcomes them and sows the city with salt, 34-45. He burns the hold of the god Berith, 46-49. At Thebez he is slain by a piece of a millstone, 50-55. Jotham's curse is fulfilled, 56, 57.

1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers and communed with them and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, 2 "Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, 'Which is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are seventy persons, should reign over you, or that one should reign over you?' Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh." 3 And his mother's brothers spoke of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words. And their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our brother." 4 And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, with which Abimelech hired vain and light persons who followed him. 5 And he went to his father's house at Ophrah and slew his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, being seventy persons, upon one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. 6 And all the men of Shechem assembled, and all the house of Millo, and went and made Abimelech king by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.

7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of mount Gerizim and lifted up his voice and cried, and said to them, "Listen to me, men of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. 8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive-tree, 'Reign over us.' 9 But the olive-tree said to them, 'Should I leave my fatness, with which by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?' 10 And the trees said to the fig-tree, 'Come, and reign over us.' 11 But the fig-tree said to them, 'Should I forsake my sweetness and my good fruit and go to be promoted over the trees?' 12 Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come, and reign over us.' 13 And the vine said to them, 'Should I leave my wine, which cheers God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?' 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, 'Come, and reign over us.' 15 And the bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth you anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow. And if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'

16 "Now therefore, if you have done truly and sincerely, 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 17 (For my father fought for you, and put his life in jeopardy and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18 And you have risen up against my father's house this day and have slain his sons, seventy persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his woman-servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother), 19 If you then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 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." 21 And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, 23 God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem, and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 So that the cruelty done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid upon Abimelech their brother who slew them and upon the men of Shechem who aided him in the killing of his brothers. 25 And the men of Shechem set an ambush for him on the top of the mountains, and they robbed all who came along that way by them. And it was told to Abimelech.

26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem. And the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27 And they went out into the fields, gathered their vineyards, trod the grapes, made merry, and went into the house of their god, ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. 28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech and who is 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. For why should we serve him? 29 Oh that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech." And he said to Abimelech, "Increase your army and come out."

30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech privately, saying, "Behold, Gaal, the son of Ebed, and his brothers have come to Shechem, and behold, they fortify the city against you. 32 Now therefore, rise by night—you and the people who are with you—and lie in wait in the field. 33 And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun has risen, you shall rise early and attack the city. And behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as you find occasion."

34 And Abimelech rose, and all the people who were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies. 35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city. And Abimelech rose, and the people who were with him, from lying in wait. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, "Behold, there, people come down from the top of the mountains." And Zebul said to him, "You see the shadow of the mountains as if they were men." 37 And Gaal spoke again, and said, "See, there, people come down by the middle of the land, and another company comes along by the plain of Meonenim." 38 Then Zebul said to him, "Where is your mouth now with which you said, 'Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?' Are these not the people whom you have despised? Go out, I pray now, and fight with them." 39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even to the entrance of the gate. 41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brothers, so that they should not dwell in Shechem.

42 And it came to pass on the next day, that the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech. 43 And he took the people, divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field. And he looked, and behold, the people had come out of the city. So he rose up against them and smote them. 44 And Abimelech, and the company who was with him, rushed forward and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city. And the two other companies ran upon all the people who were in the fields and slew them. 45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. And he took the city, and slew the people who were in it, beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into a hold of the house of the god Berith. 47 And it was told to Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were assembled. 48 And Abimelech ascended 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, laid it on his shoulder, and said to the people who were with him, "What you have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done." 49 And all the people likewise each cut down his bough, followed Abimelech, put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them. And all the men of the tower of Shechem died, about one thousand men and women.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled there, shut it after them, and ascended to the top of the tower. 52 And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it. And he came near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head and broke his skull. 54 Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and slay me so that men do not say of me, 'A woman slew him.'" And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they each departed to his place. 56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did to his father, in slaying his seventy brothers. 57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem God rendered upon their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Judges, Chapter 9[➚]