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Abimelech Becomes King

9 Abimelech was the son of Jerub Baal (Gideon). Abimelech went to his uncles that lived in the city of Shechem. He said to his uncles and all of his mother’s family, 2“Ask the leaders of the city of Shechem this question: ‘Is it better for you to be ruled by the 70 sons of Jerub Baal, or to be ruled by only one man? Remember, I am your relative.’” 3Abimelech’s uncles spoke to the leaders of Shechem and asked them that question. The leaders of Shechem decided to follow Abimelech. The leaders said, “After all, he is our brother.” 4So the leaders of Shechem gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver. That silver was from the temple of the god Baal Berith.* Abimelech used the silver to hire some men. These men were worthless, reckless men. They followed Abimelech wherever he went. 5Abimelech went to his father’s house at Ophrah. Abimelech murdered his brothers. Abimelech killed the 70 sons of his father, Jerub Baal (Gideon). He killed them all at the same time.* But Jerub Baal’s youngest son hid from Abimelech and escaped. The youngest son’s name was Jotham. 6Then all of the leaders in Shechem and the house of Millo* came together. All those people gathered beside the big tree of the pillar in Shechem and made Abimelech their king.

Jotham’s Story

7Jotham heard that the leaders of the city of Shechem had made Abimelech king. When he heard this, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim.* Jotham shouted out this story to the people: Listen to me you leaders of the city of Shechem. Then let God listen to you. 8One day the trees decided to choose a king to rule over them. The trees said to the olive tree, “You be king over us.” 9But the olive tree said, “Men and gods praise me for my oil. Should I stop making my oil just to go and sway over the other trees?” 10Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come and be our king.” 11But the fig tree answered, “Should I stop making my good, sweet fruit just to go and sway over the other trees?” 12Then the trees said to the vine, “Come and be our king.” 13But the vine answered, “My wine makes men and kings happy. Should I stop making my wine just to go and sway over the trees?” 14Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, “Come and be our king.” 15But the thornbush said to the trees, “If you really want to make me king over you, come and find shelter in my shade. But if you do not want to do this, then let fire come out of the thornbush. Let the fire burn even the cedar trees of Lebanon.” 16“Now if you were completely honest when you made Abimelech king, then may you be happy with him. And if you have been fair to Jerub Baal and his family, fine. And if you have treated Jerub Baal as you should, fine. 17But think what my father did for you. My father fought for you. He risked his life when he saved you from the people of Midian. 18But now you have turned against my father’s family. You have killed 70 of my father’s sons all at the same time.* You made Abimelech the new king over the city of Shechem. He is only the son of my father’s slave girl. But you made him king because he is your relative. 19So, if you have been completely honest to Jerub Baal and his family today, then I hope you are happy with Abimelech as your king. And I hope he will be happy with you. 20But leaders of Shechem and house of Millo,* if you have not acted right, then I hope that Abimelech destroys you. And I hope that Abimelech is destroyed too!” 21After Jotham had said all of this, he ran away. He escaped to the city named Beer. Jotham stayed in that city because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.

Abimelech Fights Against Shechem

22Abimelech ruled the people of Israel for three years. 23–24Abimelech had killed Jerub Baal’s 70 sons—and they were Abimelech’s own brothers! The leaders of Shechem had supported him in doing this bad thing. So God caused trouble between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. And the leaders of Shechem began planning ways to hurt Abimelech. 25The leaders of the city of Shechem did not like Abimelech anymore. Those people put men on the hilltops to attack and rob everyone that went by. Abimelech found out about those attacks. 26A man named Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers moved to the city of Shechem. The leaders of the city of Shechem decided to trust and follow Gaal. 27One day the people of Shechem went out to the fields to pick grapes. The people squeezed the grapes to make wine. And then they had a party at the temple of their god. The people ate and drank and said bad things about Abimelech. 28Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “We are the men of Shechem. Why should we obey Abimelech? Who does he think he is? Abimelech is one of Jerub Baal’s sons, right? And Abimelech made Zebul his officer, right? We should not obey Abimelech! We should follow our own people, men from Hamor.* (Hamor was the father of Shechem.) 29If you make me the commander of these people, then I will destroy Abimelech. I will say to him, ‘Get your army ready and come out to battle.’” 30Zebul was the governor of the city of Shechem. Zebul heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, and Zebul became very angry. 31Zebul sent messengers to Abimelech in the city of Arumah.* This is the message: Gaal son of Ebed and Gaal’s brothers have come to the city of Shechem. They are making trouble for you. Gaal is turning the whole city against you. 32So now you and your men should come tonight and hide in the fields outside the city. 33Then, when the sun comes up in the morning, attack the city. Gaal and his men will come out of the city to fight you. When those men come out to fight, do what you can to them. 34So Abimelech and all his soldiers got up during the night and went to the city. Those soldiers separated into four groups. They hid near the city of Shechem. 35Gaal son of Ebed went out and was standing at the entrance to the gate of the city of Shechem. While Gaal was standing there, Abimelech and his soldiers came out of their hiding places. 36Gaal saw the soldiers. Gaal said to Zebul, “Look, there are people coming down from the mountains.” But Zebul said, “You are only seeing the shadows of the mountains. The shadows just look like people.” 37But again Gaal said, “Look, there are some people coming down from that place over there, by Land’s Navel. And there! I saw someone’s head over by Magician’s Tree.*” 38Zebul said to Gaal, “Why aren’t you bragging now? You said, ‘Who is Abimelech? Why should we obey him?’ You made fun of these men. Now go out and fight them.” 39So Gaal led the leaders of Shechem out to fight Abimelech. 40Abimelech and his men chased Gaal and his men. Gaal’s men ran back toward the gate of the city of Shechem. Many of Gaal’s men were killed before they could get back to the gate. 41Then Abimelech returned to the city of Arumah. Zebul forced Gaal and his brothers to leave the city of Shechem. 42The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields to work. Abimelech found out about that. 43So Abimelech separated his men into three groups. He wanted to attack the people of Shechem by surprise. So he hid his men in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city he jumped up and attacked them. 44Abimelech and his group ran to a place near the gate to Shechem. The other two groups ran out to the people in the fields and killed them. 45Abimelech and his men fought against the city of Shechem all that day. Abimelech and his men captured the city of Shechem and killed the people of that city. Then Abimelech tore down the city and threw salt over the ruins.  46There were some people that lived at the Tower of Shechem.* When the people of that place heard what had happened to Shechem, they gathered together in the safest room* of the temple of the god El Berith.* 47Abimelech heard that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem had gathered together. 48So Abimelech and all his men went up to Mount Zalmon.* Abimelech took an axe and cut off some branches. He carried those branches on his shoulders. Then Abimelech said to the men with him, “Hurry! Do the same thing that I have done.” 49So all those men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled the branches against the safest room* of the temple of the god El Berith.* Then they set the branches on fire and burned the people in the room. So about 1,000 men and women living near the Tower of Shechem died.

Abimelech’s Death

50Then Abimelech and his men went to the city of Thebez. Abimelech and his men captured that city. 51But inside the city there was a strong tower. All the leaders and other men and women of that city ran to the tower. When the people were inside the tower, they locked the door behind them. Then they climbed up to the roof of the tower. 52Abimelech and his men came to the tower to attack it. Abimelech went up to the door of the tower. He wanted to burn the tower. 53But, while Abimelech was standing at the door of the tower, a woman on the roof dropped a grinding stone on his head. The grinding stone crushed Abimelech’s skull. 54Abimelech quickly said to the servant that carried his weapons, “Take out your sword and kill me. I want you to kill me so that people won’t say, ‘A woman killed Abimelech.’” So the servant stabbed Abimelech with his sword, and Abimelech died. 55The people of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead. So they all went back home. 56In that way, God punished Abimelech for all the bad things he did. Abimelech sinned against his own father by killing his 70 brothers. 57God also punished the men of the city of Shechem for the bad things they did. So the things Jotham said came true. (Jotham was Jerub Baal’s youngest son. Jerub Baal was Gideon.)

Baal Berith The name of this god means “Lord of the Agreement.  all at the same time Literally, “on one stone.” Millo This was probably a well protected part of the city. It might have been in the city itself, or somewhere near the city. Mount Gerizim This mountain is right beside the city of Shechem. house of Millo Or, “Royal Family of Millo.” The Millo was probably a well protected part of the city, perhaps even the palace area.  men from Hamor This refers to native born citizens of Shechem. Hamor was the father of Shechem in a story in Genesis 34. The city of Shechem is said to have been named after Hamor’s son. in the city of Arumah Or, “secretly” or “in Tormah,” the town where Abimelech lived as king. It was probably about eight miles south of Shechem. Land’s Navel … Magician’s Tree Two places in the hills near Shechem. Tower of Shechem This was probably a place near Shechem, but not actually part of the city. safest room We are not sure of the meaning of this Hebrew word. El Berith The name of this god means “God of the Agreement.” Mount Zalmon This is probably another name for Mount Ebal, a mountain near Shechem.

Tola the Judge

10 After Abimelech died, God sent another judge to save the people of Israel. That man’s name was Tola. Tola was the son of a man named Puah. Puah was the son of a man named Dodo. Tola was from the family group of Issachar. Tola lived in the city of Shamir. The city of Shamir was in the hill country of Ephraim. 2Tola was a judge for the people of Israel for 23 years. Then Tola died and was buried in the city of Shamir.

Jair the Judge

3After Tola died, another judge was sent by God. That man’s name was Jair. Jair lived in the area of Gilead. Jair was a judge for the people of Israel for 22 years. 4Jair had 30 sons. Those 30 sons rode 30 donkeys.* Those 30 sons controlled 30 towns in the area of Gilead. Those towns are called the Towns of Jair to this very day. 5Jair died and was buried in the city of Kamon.

The Ammonites Fight Against Israel

6Again the people of Israel did things the Lord said are evil. They began worshiping the false gods Baal* and the Ashtoreth.* They also worshiped the gods of the people of Aram, the gods of the people of Sidon, the gods of the people of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistine people. The people of Israel left the Lord and stopped serving him. 7So the Lord became angry with the people of Israel. The Lord allowed the Philistine people and the Ammonite people to defeat them. 8In that same year those people destroyed the people of Israel that lived on the east side of the Jordan River, in the area of Gilead. That is the land where the Amorite people had lived. Those people of Israel suffered for 18 years. 9The Ammonite people then went across the Jordan River. They went to fight against the people of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. The Ammonite people brought many troubles to the people of Israel. 10So the people of Israel cried to the Lord for help. They said, “God, we have sinned against you. We left our God and worshiped the false god Baal.*” 11The Lord answered the people of Israel, “You cried to me when the people of Egypt, the Amorite people, the Ammonite people, and the Philistine people hurt you. I saved you from these people. 12You cried to me when the people of Sidon, the Amalekite people, and the Midianite* people hurt you. I also saved you from those people. 13But you left me and started worshiping other gods. So I refuse to save you again. 14You like worshiping those gods, so go call to them for help. Let those gods save you when you are in trouble.” 15But the people of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do whatever you want to do to us. But please save us today.” 16Then the people of Israel threw away the foreign gods. They started worshiping the Lord again. So the Lord felt sorry for them when he saw them suffering.

Jephthah Is Chosen as a Leader

17The Ammonite people gathered together for war. Their camp was in the area of Gilead. The people of Israel gathered together. Their camp was at the city of Mizpah. 18The leaders of the people living in the area of Gilead said, “Whoever leads us in the attack against the people of Ammon will become the head of all the people living in Gilead.”

30 sons rode 30 donkeys This showed these men were important leaders, possibly the mayors of the 30 towns in Gilead. Baal The Canaanite people believed that this false god brought the rain and storms. They also thought that he made the land produce good crops. Ashtoreth The Canaanite people thought that this false goddess could make people able to have babies. She was their goddess of love and war.  Midianite This is the ancient Greek translation. The Hebrew has, “The Maonite people.”

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