Chapter 9: Fable of Trees
Abimelech (one of Gideon’s 70 sons) goes to his brothers and convinces them to go to the people of Shechem and convince them that Abimelech should be their ruler. The people of Shechem agree and the people go into their temple to get Abimelech money.
Once Abimelech had the money, his next action as ruler was to hire some lazy reckless people to be his followers. He pays them ten pieces of silver each. Now that he has a good following base, he takes his brothers and kills them one by one using the SAME STONE! The people crown Abimelech as their king. Abimelech however did not know that his youngest brother (Jotham) escaped the mass murder.
When Jotham hears that Abimelech has been crowned king, he climbs to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouts to the people of Shechem…
“…Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.’
” The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?’
“And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?’
” Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?’
” Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us, And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye 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.’
“Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech your king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbal and his house… for my father fought for you…and delivered you out of the hand of Midian… ye are risen up against my father’s house… and have slain his sons… If ye have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech and let him rejoice in you: But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem…” (Judges 9:8-20)
After delivering this address Jotham flees and goes to live in Beer. The address is also known as a curse that Jotham put on the people of Shechem. We will find out why towards the end of the chapter.
For a period of 3 years Abimelech rules over Israel until God sends an “evil spirit” (23) to deal treacherously between him and the people. The people of Shechem start to hide on the tops of hills and rob anyone who passes by. During this time a man named Gaal moves in and starts to get the people fired up… by saying: “…Who is Abimelech… that we should serve him?” (Judges 9:28). Gaal promises that if everyone follow him, that he will get rid of Abimelech. Zebul however is loyal to Abimelech, and after he hears this he goes to Abimelech and tells him that there is a “troublemaker” in the city. So Abimelech gets some men to go and meet Gaal.
Gaal and his men along with Abimelech and his men fight. Gaal runs away with his people. Abimelech wins. The next day some of the people return and Abimelech goes crazy and kills everyone around him. He then sprinkles salt all throughout the town and the remaining people hid in the temple tower.
Abimelech cuts down some trees and throws the branches over his shoulder. He commands his men to do the same thing. They pile all the wood outside the temple and burn all of them hiding inside ALIVE. About 1,000 men and women die.
Abimelech then goes to the town of “Thebez” and causes the people there to hid in a strong tower to get away from Abimelech. Abimelech goes to the door of the tower and tries to break it down. When he does this a woman above drops a millstone on his head and cracks his skull open. The funniest part is that Abimelech calls one of his soldiers over as he is dying and commands that he kill him. But why? Because he didn’t want people to say that he was killed by a woman!
Thus we see that the curse of Jotham came true and the evil men of Shechem were killed just as Jotham had said. This was to repay for the death of his 69 brothers.
Chapter 10: False gods
Following the death of Abimelech, Tola rose as a judge to Israel for 23 years before dying and passing the judgment seat to Jair who judged for 22 years. After the death of Jair the children of Israel begin to be wicked again and follow after false gods. They served Baalim, Ashtaroth and the gods og Moab, the gods of the Phillistines and “forsook the Lord”.
“…the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hands of the Phillistines, and into the hands of the children of Ammon.” (Judges 10:7)
The children of Ammon passed over the river to fight against Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim. Israel was distressed. The children of Israel cried unto the Lord admitting that they had sinned and asking to be freed from the oppression.
“…the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Did not I deliver you from the Egyptians, and from the Amorites… the children of Ammon, and from the Philistines? …ye cried to me and I delivered you out of their hand. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.” (Judges 10:11-14).
However, the Israelites put away the false gods and start to worship God. God starts to grieve for the misery of Israel. The Israelites prepare for war.