Judges 9

1 In time Abimʹelech the son of Jerubbaʹal went to his mother’s brothers in Sheʹchem, and he said to them and to all the family of his grandfather:

2 “Please ask all the leaders of Sheʹchem, ‘Which is better for you, for all 70 sons of Jerubbaʹal to rule over you or for one man to rule over you? And remember that I am your own bone and flesh.’”

3 So his mother’s brothers said this in his behalf to all the leaders of Sheʹchem, and their hearts were inclined to follow Abimʹelech, for they said: “He is our own brother.”

4 Then they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the house of Baʹal-beʹrith, and Abimʹelech used it to hire idle and insolent men to accompany him.

5 After that he went to his father’s house at Ophʹrah and killed his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaʹal, 70 men, on one stone. The only survivor was Joʹtham, the youngest son of Jerubbaʹal, because he hid.

6 Then all the leaders of Sheʹchem and all Beth-milʹlo gathered together and made Abimʹelech king, close by the big tree, by the pillar that was in Sheʹchem.

7 When they reported it to Joʹtham, he at once went and stood on the top of Mount Gerʹizim and called out in a loud voice to them: “Listen to me, you leaders of Sheʹchem, and then God will listen to you.

8 “Once there were trees that went to anoint a king over them. So they said to the olive tree, ‘Rule over us.’

9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Must I give up my oil, which they use to glorify God and men, to go and wave over the other trees?’

10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and rule over us.’

11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruitage to go and wave over the other trees?’

12 Next the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and rule over us.’

13 The vine replied to them, ‘Must I give up my new wine that makes God and men rejoice to go and wave over the trees?’

14 Finally all the other trees said to the bramble, ‘Come and rule over us.’

15 At this the bramble said to the trees, ‘If you are really anointing me as king over you, come and seek refuge under my shadow. But if not, let fire come out of the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebʹanon.’

16 “Now have you acted sincerely and honorably in making Abimʹelech king, and have you shown goodness toward Jerubbaʹal and his household, and have you treated him as he deserves?

17 When my father fought for you, he risked his life to save you from Midʹian’s hand.

18 But today you have risen up against my father’s household and killed his sons, 70 men, on one stone. Then you made Abimʹelech, the son of his slave girl, king over the leaders of Sheʹchem just because he is your brother.

19 Yes, if you are acting sincerely and honorably toward Jerubbaʹal and his household this day, rejoice over Abimʹelech and let him also rejoice over you.

20 But if not, may fire come out of Abimʹelech and consume the leaders of Sheʹchem and Beth-milʹlo, and may fire come out of the leaders of Sheʹchem and Beth-milʹlo and consume Abimʹelech.”

21 Then Joʹtham fled and escaped to Beʹer, and he lived there because of his brother Abimʹelech.

22 Abimʹelech ruled over Israel for three years.

23 Then God let hostility develop between Abimʹelech and the leaders of Sheʹchem, and they dealt treacherously with Abimʹelech.

24 This was so that the violence done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaʹal might be avenged, so as to place responsibility for their blood on their brother Abimʹelech for killing them and on the leaders of Sheʹchem for helping him to kill his brothers.

25 So the leaders of Sheʹchem set men to ambush him on the mountaintops, and they would rob everyone who passed by them on the road. In time it was reported to Abimʹelech.

26 Then Gaʹal son of Eʹbed and his brothers crossed over into Sheʹchem, and the leaders of Sheʹchem put their trust in him.

27 They went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards, trod them out, and held a festival, after which they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and cursed Abimʹelech.

28 Then Gaʹal the son of Eʹbed said: “Who is Abimʹelech, and who is Sheʹchem that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaʹal, and is not Zeʹbul his commissioner? Serve the men of Haʹmor, Sheʹchem’s father! But why should we serve him?

29 If only this people were under my command, I would depose Abimʹelech.” Then he said to Abimʹelech: “Increase your army and come out.”

30 When Zeʹbul the prince of the city heard the words of Gaʹal the son of Eʹbed, his anger blazed.

31 So he secretly sent messengers to Abimʹelech, saying: “Look! Gaʹal the son of Eʹbed and his brothers are now in Sheʹchem, and here they are inciting the city against you.

32 Now come up by night, you and your men, and lie in wait in the field.

33 As soon as the sun rises in the morning, you should get up early and attack the city; and when he and his men come out against you, do whatever you can to defeat him.”

34 So Abimʹelech and all the people with him rose up by night, and in four bands they lay in wait against Sheʹchem.

35 When Gaʹal the son of Eʹbed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate, Abimʹelech and the people with him rose up from the ambush.

36 When Gaʹal saw the people, he said to Zeʹbul: “Look! There are people coming down from the mountaintops.” But Zeʹbul said to him: “You are seeing the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.”

37 Gaʹal later said: “Look! People are coming down from the center of the land, and one band is coming by the way of the big tree of Meonʹenim.”

38 Zeʹbul replied to him: “Where now is your boast, ‘Who is Abimʹelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the people you rejected? Go out now and fight against them.”

39 So Gaʹal went out at the head of the leaders of Sheʹchem and fought against Abimʹelech.

40 Abimʹelech pursued him, and Gaʹal fled from him, and many fell slain as far as the entrance of the city gate.

41 And Abimʹelech continued to dwell in Aruʹmah, and Zeʹbul drove Gaʹal and his brothers out of Sheʹchem.

42 The next day the people went out into the field, and Abimʹelech was told about it.

43 So he took the people and divided them into three bands and lay in wait in the field. When he saw the people going out of the city, he attacked them and struck them down.

44 Abimʹelech and the bands with him charged forward and took a position at the entrance of the city gate, while two bands attacked all who were in the field, and they struck them down.

45 Abimʹelech fought against the city all that day and captured it. He killed the people in it, and then he pulled the city down and sowed it with salt.

46 When all the leaders of the tower of Sheʹchem heard about this, they immediately went to the vault of the house of El-beʹrith.

47 As soon as it was reported to Abimʹelech that all the leaders of the tower of Sheʹchem had gathered together,

48 Abimʹelech and all the men with him went up Mount Zalʹmon. Abimʹelech took an ax in his hand and cut off a tree branch and lifted it on his shoulder and said to the people with him: “What you saw me do, hurry and do the same!”

49 So all the people also cut off branches and followed Abimʹelech. Then they put the branches against the vault and set the vault on fire. So all the people of the tower of Sheʹchem also died, about 1,000 men and women.

50 Abimʹelech then went to Theʹbez; he camped against Theʹbez and captured it.

51 There was a strong tower in the middle of the city, and all the men and women and all the city leaders fled there. They shut themselves in and climbed onto the roof of the tower.

52 Abimʹelech made his way to the tower and attacked it. He approached the entrance of the tower to set it on fire.

53 Then one of the women dropped an upper millstone on Abimʹelech’s head and crushed his skull.

54 He quickly called the attendant bearing his weapons and said to him: “Draw your sword and put me to death, so that they may not say about me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his attendant ran him through, and he died.

55 When the men of Israel saw that Abimʹelech was dead, they all went back home.

56 Thus God repaid Abimʹelech for the evil that he had done to his father by killing his 70 brothers.

57 God also made all the evil of the men of Sheʹchem come back on their own heads. So the curse of Joʹtham the son of Jerubbaʹal came upon them.