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August 24, 2018

In the closing verses of Judges chapter 8 readers are informed of the birth of Abimelech, the son of Gideon and a concubine, and the return of Israel to idolatry by worshipping the god of Baal and Baal-berith. So, chapter 9 is devoted to sharing the story of Abimelech who is not a judge but an ambitious, unprincipled, treacherous, conniving murderer.

Unlike his father Gideon, Abimelech wanted to be a king, therefore he went to his mother’s relatives who resided in Shechem and had them ask the other residents of the city, “Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” The response that they received was that they preferred Abimelech and they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith which Abimelech used to hire mercenaries who assisted him in killing his sixty-nine half-brothers, after which the Shechemites and all the house of Millo, made Abimelech their king.

Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon who managed to escape the slaughter, fled to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down a parable to the Shechemites. This parable depicted the rivalry between several trees and their response to an offer of a kingly position. All declined except the bramble tree, which was the most worthless of the group. Plus, Jotham closed the parable with a malediction and prophetic declaration on Abimelech and the Shechemites for killing his brothers.

Abimelech experienced peace for the first three years of his reign, and then God decided it was time for retribution. God sent a spirit of animosity between Abimelech and the Shechemites and the Shechemites turned against Abimelech and caused embarrassment and economic problems for him by ambushing travelers on the trade route in their area.

Additionally, Gaal, the son of Ebed, came to Shechem: and the Shechemites put their trust in him. During a festival of the grape harvest, he wooed the people and publicly challenged the reign of Abimelech. When Abimelech was informed of the actions of Gaal by Zebul a ruler in Shechem, they devised a plan of attack on Shechem which was successfully carried out. For several days Abimelech, his mercenaries, and Zebul fought against Gaal resulting in Gaal leaving Shechem, many men being wounded and killed, the city destroyed, and the tower of Shechem set on fire killing about a thousand men and women that was inside of it.

Abimelech last act was to go and capture Thebez; however, there was a strong tower within the city into which the men and women of the city fled, and when Abimelech came to the tower he attempted to set it on fire, but a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon his head which fractured his skull. Abimelech requested his armor bearer to kill him so that men would not say of him, “A women slew him.” Thus, the armor bearer complied and Abimelech died.

Conclusion: The men of Shechem placed family loyalty ahead of integrity.

Of all the trees in the parable (olive, fig, vine, and bramble) the bramble, which is a thorn bush and known to cause fires was the least valuable. This thorn bush (Abimelech) was whom men chose to rule them.

A murderer does not mind who he kills.

People tend to forget the things people do for them.

Men hearts are easily turned. People will promote you and then demote you.

God will permit discord to punish men for their sinful acts.

Abimelech had killed his brothers on a stone, and at the end of his life, he was killed with a stone.

Spiritual Application:

When choosing a leader, look for one that has integrity.

The people with whom you associate speaks volumes of your character.

Standing in the way of a usurper can get you killed.

Beware of those who are swift to shed blood.

When you make boastful threats be ready to back-up your words.

When you want to be heard, speak from a vantage point that will carry your voice.

What you do to others, the same will be done to you.


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