9
Abimelech Attempts to Become King
1And Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem, to the relatives of his mother, and he said to them and to the house of his mother’s father, 2“Speak to#Literally “Speak into the ears” the lords of Shechem, ‘What is better for you, that seventy men all from the sons of Jerub-Baal rule over you, or that one man rules over you?’ Remember that I am your bone and your flesh.” 3And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words concerning him to#Literally “in the ears of” all the lords of Shechem; and they supported Abimelech,#Literally “it reached their heart after Abimelech” for they said, “He is our relative.”#Or “brother” 4And they gave to him seventy pieces of silver from the temple#Or “house” of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech hired with them#That is, the pieces of silver worthless and reckless men, and they followed him.#Literally “They went after him” 5And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and he killed his brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerub-Baal survived, because he hid himself. 6All the lords of Shechem and Beth-Millo gathered, and they went and made Abimelech as king, near the oak#Or “terebinth” of the pillar that is at Shechem.
7And they told Jotham, and he went up and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and he cried out loud#Literally “he lifted his voice and called” and said to them, “Listen to me, lords of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
8“The trees went certainly,
to anoint a king over themselves.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Rule over us.’
9And the olive tree replied,
‘Should I stop producing my oil,
which by me gods and men are honored,
to go sway over the trees?’
10Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You, come rule over us.’
11But the fig tree said to them,
‘Should I stop producing my sweetness,
and my good crop,
to go sway over the trees?’
12And the trees said to the vine,
‘You, come rule over us.’
13But the vine said to them,
‘Should I stop producing my wine
that makes the gods and men happy,
to go sway over the trees?’
14So all the trees said to the thornbush,
‘You, come rule over us.’
15And the thornbush said to the trees,
‘If in good faith#Or “honesty” you are anointing
me as king over you,
then come and take refuge in my shade;
if not, may fire go out from the thornbush
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
16“So then, if you have acted in good faith#Or “honesty” and sincerity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerub-Baal and his house, and have dealt with him according to his accomplishments#Literally “according to the dealings of his hand”17for my father fought and risked his life#Literally “he threw his life in front” for you and delivered you from the hand of Midian; 18but today you have risen against the house of my father and killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and you have made Abimelech, the son of his slave woman, a king over the lords of Shechem, because he is your relative#Or “brother”19if you have acted in good faith#Or “honesty” and sincerity with Jerub-Baal and his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. 20But if not, let a fire come out from Abimelech and let it devour the lords of Shechem and Beth-Millo; and let a fire come out from the lords of Shechem, and from Beth-Millo, and let it devour Abimelech.” 21And Jotham escaped and fled, and went to Beer; he remained there because of Abimelech his brother.
The Downfall of Shechem and Abimelech
22Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem, and the lords of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24so that the violence done to the seventy brothers of Abimelech would be avenged and their blood be placed on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who helped#Literally “who strengthened his hands” to kill his brothers. 25And the lords of Shechem set for him ambushes on the top of the mountains, and they robbed all who passed by them along the road; and it was reported to Abimelech.
26And Gaal son of Ebel and his relatives came, and they crossed over into Shechem, and the lords of Shechem gave him confidence.#Literally “put confidence into him” 27They went out into the field and harvested their vineyards and trod them, and they held a festival.#Literally “made a rejoicing” And they went into the temple#Or “house” of their god, and they ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. 28Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of Shechem that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerub-Baal, and is not Zebul his chief officer?#Or “overseer” Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem. Why should we serve him?#That is, Abimelech 29If only this people were in my command!#Literally “were in my hand” Then I would remove Abimelech, and I would have said,#Hebrew “he said”; the translation “I would have said” follows the LXX ‘Increase your army and come out!’ ”
30When Zebul the commander of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he became angry,#Literally “his nose became hot” 31and he sent messengers to Abimelech in Tormah, saying, “Look, Gaal son of Ebed and his relatives are coming to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32So then, get up by night, you and the army that is with you, and lie in ambush in the field. 33And in the morning at sunrise, get up and rush the city; and look, when he and the troops who are with him come out to you, you must act according to whatever opportunity offers itself.#Literally “you must do to him just as it will find your hand”
34So Abimelech and all the army that was with him got up by night, and they lay in ambush against Shechem in four divisions.#Or “companies” 35Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate, and Abimelech and the army that was with him got up from the ambush. 36When Gaal saw the army, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the top of the mountains!” And Zebul said to him, “The shadows of the mountains look like people to you.”#Literally “the shadows of the mountains you are seeing as men” 37And Gaal spoke again#Literally “And he did again again Gaal to speak” and said, “Look, people are coming down from Tabbur-erez, and one division#Or “company” is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim.”#Or “the Sorcerer’s Oak” 38And Zebul said to him, “Where then is your boast,#Literally “is your mouth” you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Is this not the army that you rejected? Please, go out now and fight against them.”#Hebrew “against him” 39So Gaal went out before the lords of Shechem and fought against Abimelech. 40And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him; many fell slain up to the entrance of the gate. 41So Abimelech resided at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives#Or “brothers” from living in Shechem.
42On the next day the people went out to the field; and it was reported to Abimelech, 43so he took the army and divided them into three divisions,#Or “companies” and he laid an ambush in the field. And he saw the people were coming out from the city, and he arose against them and killed them. 44Then Abimelech and the divisions#Or “companies” that were with him dashed out and stood at the entrance of the city gate, and the two divisions dashed out against all who were in the field, and they killed them. 45Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people that were in it; then he broke down the city and sowed it with salt.
46When all the lords of the tower of Shechem heard, they went to the vault#Or “cellar” of the temple#Or “house” of El-Berith. 47It was told to Abimelech that all the lords of the tower of Shechem had gathered. 48So Abimelech went up Mount Zalmon, he and all his army that were with him, and Abimelech took the ax#Hebrew “axes” in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood, and he lifted it and put it on his shoulder. And he said to the army that was with him, “What you have seen me do, quickly do also.” 49So the whole army cut down each one branch for himself and followed Abimelech, and they put them against the vault#Or “cellar” and set the vault ablaze with fire on those inside, so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.
50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he encamped against Thebez and captured it. 51But there was a strong tower in the middle of the city, and all the men, women, and lords of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up to the roof of the tower. 52Abimelech came up to the tower and fought against it, and he came near the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. 53But a certain woman#Or “But one woman” threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and cracked open his skull. 54He called quickly to the young man carrying his weapons, and he said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they will not say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So the young man#Hebrew “his young man” stabbed him, and he died. 55When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each one went to his home.#Or “place” 56So God repaid#Or “returned” the wickedness#Or “evil” that Abimelech committed against his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57And God also repaid all the wickedness#Or “evil” of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal fell on them.
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