The Period Of The Judges

   
Chapter 37
Abimelech King of Shechem [Judges 9.1-9.6]

 


Scripture

1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,
2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, 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.
3 And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
5 And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.—Judges 9:1-6 (KJV)


INTRODUCTION TO Judges 9

This chapter contains an account of:
• The deviousness and cruelty of Abimelech, by which he got himself made king of the Shechemites.
• The parable of Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon, concerning the trees, in which he exposes their folly in making Abimelech king.
• The ruin of both Abimelech and Jotham.
• The contentions which arose between Abimelech, and the men of Shechem.
• The contentions increased by Gaal the son of Ebed, who was drawn into a battle with Abimelech, and beaten and forced to flee.
• The quarrel between Abimelech and the men of Shechem did not cease, but continued, which led to the total ruin of the city and the inhabitants of it’
• The death of Abimelech himself, which corresponded to Jotham's curse.
 
At first glance, it might appear that this pitiful tale of the scoundrel Abimelech is unimportant. However, the events of this chapter came very near to being the end of the nation of Israel. "Shechem, along with a scattering of Israelites, changed their government to rule by a monarch with absolute authority over all facets of life; it was nearly the end of Israel." If Abimelech had been successful in transforming their religion, all Israel might have renounced their covenant relationship with Jehovah. This reversion to Canaanite Baalism involved the official recognition of Baal as the covenant god.

Three other measures of the importance of this chapter may also be noted:
(1) "Here is revealed the doctrine that wickedness is never allowed to go unpunished."
(2) There is no clearer lesson in the history of mankind exhibiting the absolute wickedness of polygamy and concubinage than is found in this extended story of the descendants of Gideon. Hervey stated that, "It was polygamy that produced family discord, destroyed filial affection, resulted in civil strife, wholesale murder, and produced an ignoble and contemptible herd of helpless princes."
(3) Also, there is a perfect example here of what government by "a king" would inevitably mean for Israel. Yes, David, and a very few others, were exceptions to the rule, but the long, wretched story of the kings of Israel followed perfectly the pattern of that type of government which God allowed His chosen people to see in the atrocious behavior of the scoundrel of Shechem, Abimelech.


Commentary


1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, (Judges 9.1; KJV)  
1 Abimelech, son of Jerubbaal [Gideon], went to Shechem to see the uncles on his mother's side of the family. He spoke to them and his mother's whole family. (Judges 9.1; GW)

 

Having gone to Shechem, the home of his mother—“And his concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, whose name he called Abimelech” (Judges 8:31; NKJV), Abimelech made a request to his mother's brothers and the whole family (all the relatives) of his mother’s father. This is what he said: "Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the lords of Shechem," that is, speak to all the citizens of Shechem publicly and seriously. The citizens of the town were chiefly Israelites, but according to [1]Judges 9.28 there were some Canaanitish citizens living there. And what was it they were to say; "What is better for you, that seventy men rule over you, all the sons of Jerubbaal, or (only) one man (i.e., Abimelech)? and remember that I am your flesh and bone" (blood relation, [2]Genesis 29:14). The name "sons of Jerubbaal," would remind the Canaanite citizens that it was Jerubbaal (Gideon) who had destroyed the altar of Baal, and that would not commend the sons of Gideon to the Shechemites, who were devoted to the worship of Baal; also, the same can be said about the remark that seventy men were to rule over them. No such rule ever existed, and there is not any evidence that the seventy sons of Gideon aspired to such a position. But Abimelech assumed that his brothers possessed the same thirst for ruling that he did; and that the citizens of Shechem might be ready to accept him as their ruler, since the popularity which Gideon had enjoyed would certainly be extended to his sons and insure him of a prominent place in the nation.

And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, unto his mother's brethren…
The story of Abimelech is one of the most tragic incidents in Israel’s history. It also reveals, as do the later family narratives of David and Solomon, the tragedy that so often follows multiple marriages. Abimelech is identified as the son of Jerubbaal, rather than using the more acceptable name of Gideon. Nowhere is Abimelech called a judge: rather, he is a usurper attempting to be a king (vs. 6). As the son of a concubine, he was considered to be part of his mother’s family. In the ancient East such women usually remained with their own clan and were visited by their husbands from time to time. Thus, the son of a concubine had a closer relationship to his mother’s family than to his father’s

It seems that though the mother of Abimelech lived at Shechem, he was taken and brought up in his father's house at Ophrah, where he was when his father died; and from there he came to Shechem, to pay a visit to his uncles; whether his mother was still living, is not certain. He went there immediately after his father's death for a self-serving purpose; to induce his townsmen to proclaim him governor in the place of his father. Shechem was the residence of his mother, and of all her relatives.

The idolatry which had been stealthily creeping into Israel during the latter years of Gideon’s life was now openly professed; Shechem was entirely inhabited by its devotees; at least, idolaters had the upper-hand. Abimelech was connected with that place. We will see that he was ambitious for sovereign power, and having employed successfully the talents of a demagogue (dictator) with his maternal relatives and friends, he acquired both the influence and money by which he raised himself to a throne.

and communed with them;
He talked about the death of his father, the state of his family, and the government of Israel.

and with all the family of the house of his mother's father,
Here is a striking instance of the evils of polygamy--one son has connections and interests totally foreign to those of his brothers.

We are told here by what cunning actions Abimelech was able to gain authority, and make himself great. His mother perhaps had instilled into his mind some towering ambitious thoughts, and the name his father gave him carried the potential of royalty in it. These were elements that might help to blow up sparks of enthusiasm for promoting Abimelech to a high position; and now that he has buried his father nothing will feed his proud spirit more than for him to succeed in the government of Israel, which was directly contrary to his father's will, for he had declared no son of his should rule over them. Abimelech had no call from God to seek after this honor as his father had, and at this time there was no need for a judge to deliver Israel as there was when his father was called to lead Israel; but his own ambition must be gratified, and its gratification is all he desires.

Now observe how cunningly he got his mother's relations to become interested in fulfilling his ambitions. Shechem was an important city in the tribe of Ephraim. Joshua had held his last assembly there. If that city would endorse him, and give him an important position, he thought it would be a great assist to him in realizing his royal ambitions. There he had family members on his mother’s side, and through them he gained the support of the leading men of the city. It does not appear that any of them thought of him as kingly material. In fact, there was nothing about the man that would recommend him for that high position; but he made the motion himself. None of them would have dreamed of making such a person as him King of Shechem, if he had not suggested it himself.

saying,
what follows in the next verse.

 

2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, 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.  (Judges 9.2; GW)
2 He said, “Please ask all citizens of Shechem, ‘What seems best to you? Do you really want all of Jerubbaal's 70 sons to rule you or just one man? Remember, I'm your own flesh and blood.'” (Judges 9.2; GW)     
         

Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem…
The Targum calls the inhabitants of Shechem, the men of Shechem; however, Ben Melech perhaps offers a better translation calling them “the lords of Shechem” (see Table 9.1 for information on Shechem). It is reasonable that Abimelech would have gone first to the principal men of the city with his suggestion, before the common people were informed of it. That would allow the city leaders to use their influence when they informed the common people of Abimelech’s grand scheme.

Table 9.1: Shechem
This place figured prominently in the early history of Israel; the Jews had been acquainted with the people of Schechem since the days of the patriarchs.
(1) When Abraham came from Haran, it was at the oak of Moreh in the vicinity of Shechem that he erected his first altar (Gen. 12:6).
(2) It was probably by this oak that Jacob, upon his return from Paddan-aram, compelled his family to bury their false gods (Genesis 35:4).
(3) Jacob bought a parcel of ground east of the city from the sons of Hamor upon which he pitched his tent and erected an altar which he called "El-Elohe-Israel," i.e., "God, the God of Israel." (Genesis 33:18-20).
(4) It was here that Jacob's sons Simeon and Levi brutally and treacherously avenged the date-rape of their sister Dinah (Gen. 34).
(5) Here the bones of Joseph were buried by Joshua on that piece of ground that Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor (Joshua 24:32).
(6) Although the capture of Shechem is not mentioned in Joshua, it was nevertheless possessed by Israel, because it was at those twin mountains of Shechem, Gerizim and Ebal just south of the city (Mount Ephraim was on the north), that Joshua gave his farewell address to Israel. And it was there that the Law was read, and the people were pledged to obey Jehovah (Joshua 8:33).
This chapter relates the crowning of Abimelech (note: this was a common name in Palestine.), probably at that same oak where Jacob's family had buried the false gods, and the speech of Jotham from that pulpit-like rock projecting from Mount Gerizim, the narrow valley between Ebal and Gerizim forming a natural amphitheater with very remarkable acoustics. It seems strange that in this chapter, the citizens of Shechem seem to be almost totally Canaanite.
The city was located in the territory of the tribe of Ephraim. And upon the division of the kingdom, Jeroboam I rebuilt Shechem, fortified it and made it his capital. It continued as a very important city until the establishment of Samaria as the capital of the Northern Kingdom, after which Shechem declined. Shechem was located on the principal natural roadway between the East and the Mediterranean Sea, and the ruler of Shechem was able to impose taxes or a tariff on the caravans using that route.
Today, "Just southwest of Shechem is a tiny chapel, constructed upon the place where Jacob is said to have mourned over the blood-stained coat of Joseph."
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, [which are] seventy persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you?

Although Abimelech’s father, Gideon, had refused the king’s crown when it was offered to him, it seemed reasonable that his sons, who were seventy in number, would desire to follow in their father’s footsteps and that their desire would move them to contend with each other for the honor of being King of Israel. The principal men of the city spread this rumor and added that they were even now contriving to divide the government among them. And then they might be influenced to consider whether it would be better for one person to be their ruler, than to be ruled by a government of seventy; or, in other words, whether it was not better to have one king than seventy kings; but in reality there was no reason for being concerned about this matter, since the sons of judges never succeeded their fathers in government; nor does it appear that any of Gideon's sons had thought about it, or had any desire to be made kings, which appears to be the case from Jotham's parable, which begins in verse 7. The truth is that this was only a wicked insinuation made by Abimelech, who had ambitions for getting the kingdom for himself. But he was not the clear successor to his father's place of leadership for two reasons: God had not established a hereditary monarchy in Israel, and because there were sixty-nine other sons of Gideon who might follow in their father's footsteps.

This was a powerful argument, but it was also a false insinuation, artfully contrived to stir up jealousy and alarm: Will you have seventy tyrants or only one! Gideon had rejected, with loathing, the proposal to make himself or any of his family kings. Affairs of state are managed best by a single person, but there is no evidence that any of his other sons coveted the title (they were of their father's mind, that the Lord should reign over them, and they were not called by God as Gideon was), yet he makes these insinuations in order to pave the way for his own ambitious plans. Note, Those who intend to do evil themselves are most apt to suspect that others intend to do evil themselves.  Abimelech had no right to govern the people of Shechem, and God alone was king at that time in Israel; so he must support his [3]usurped rule by whatever means were most likely to strengthen his position: a usurped government is generally supported by oppression and the sword.

remember also that I am your bone and your flesh (Of your kindred by my mother’s side.).
Abimelech was from the same tribe and city as the men of Shechem; he was born among them, his mother always lived with them, and he has many close relatives on his mother's side that lived there; and therefore while they were considering the roll he would have in the government, he wanted them to think of him as their king, which would be advantageous for them, to have a person so closely related to them on the throne, from whom they might expect many favors.

This explains why Abimelech went to Shechem; to appeal to his mother’s family for the backing that would be needed to overpower Gideon’s other sons who were possibly vying for rulership, although this is not clearly stated in the text.

3 And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.  (Judges 9.3; KJV)
3 His uncles repeated everything he said to all citizens of Shechem. They were persuaded to follow Abimelech because he was their relative.  (Judges 9.3; GW)
     

And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of the men of Shechem all these words…
They got them together in a certain place, and laid before them all that Abimelech had suggested to them, and spoke to them in his favor. It is possible that only Abimelech was interested in being the next ruler. Evidently, his mother’s relatives spoke on his behalf and convinced the rest of the leaders of Shechem that they should follow Abimelech.

{"Speak ... in the ears of all the men of Shechem"}The meaning here is that the conspiracy was to be carried on quietly, that is, whispered in the ears of the conspirators.

and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, he is our brother;
The Israelites wanted to be like other nations; having Gods they could see and touch (idols). Since this was the type of government they wanted, it was more acceptable to them to have one king over them, and to them, nothing could be more pleasing than to have a king that was so closely related to them, and since they had entered into an alliance with him, they believed Abimelech would show them favoritism. Note: brother—That is, kinsmen. He is our brother - They were easily persuaded to believe what served their own interest.

4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. (Judges 9.4; KJV)
4 So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal Berith. With the silver, Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to follow him. (Judges 9.4; GW)
         

And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith,
The house of Baalberith ("god of the covenant") was the temple built specifically for their idol. The money they gave to Abimelech was a freewill offering taken out of the public treasury, which, out of respect to their idol, they deposited in his temple to be protected by him; or out of the offerings that had been made to that idol, which they hoped would prosper better in his hands because it had been consecrated to their god. He was now usurping the government of God; he begins with a contribution from the idol temple. A work begun under the name and influence of the devil is not likely to end to the glory of God, or to the welfare of man.

"Silver out of the house of Baal-berith.”  The principal establishment in Shechem at this time was this stronghold including a tower and temple of Baal-berith, indicating that, "Shechem was a Canaanite city and that the mother and family of Abimelech were Canaanites." What a fatal mistake it had been for Gideon to father a son by a concubine who, under the rules for certain classes of concubines, reared him in a pagan environment with no knowledge whatever of God. In our own times, parents who rear their children without true spiritual and religious education are committing the same disastrous mistake.

In this instance, there is no way to know the value of these 30 pieces of silver; but, perhaps I can, through logic, shed some light on the subject.  By pieces of silver, what is commonly meant is shekels; but these are thought to be of too little value to be given to a man to raise an army with, or carry on a scheme to advance himself to the throne; and talents are considered to be too large a sum for such a city to contribute out of a temple of theirs, especially since it was just recently built (It could not have been built while Gideon was alive, because he would not have allowed it.). These 70 pieces of silver are therefore thought to be pounds, which is how the Vulgate Latin version renders it; however, there may be some symbolism in the number of them—the comparison can be made to the number of Gideon's sons (70), who were to be murdered by the men who were bribed with this sum, which was the scheme concocted between Abimelech and the men of Shechem.

wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him,
Perhaps there were seventy of them, and each was given a piece or pound of silver; these were a vile, crooked sort of people, that lived in an idle indecent manner, a sort of opportunists, that lived upon what they could lay their hands on by force or fraud; men of light heads and empty brains, and whose pockets were as light and empty as their heads, and fit to engage in any enterprise, no matter how barbaric it might be, for the sake of a little money—worthless vagabonds, the scum of society, who had nothing to lose, but much to gain from the success of a revolutionary movement. Certainly, they were the proper instruments of tyranny and cruelty (scoundrels). By a cunning management of such rascals most revolutions have been brought about. In [4]Zephaniah 3.4 the phrase “light and treacherous persons” is used to refer to false prophets. In German, this is rendered “sprudelkopf,” meaning, “a hot-headed hasty man.”

5 And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself. (Judges 9.5; KJV)
5 Then he went to his father's home in Ophrah. There he executed his 70 brothers, Jerubbaal's sons. But Jotham, Jerubbaal's youngest son, survived because he hid. (Judges 9.5; GW)
      

And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah,
Which, according to Bunting, was ten miles from Shechem.

The half-brothers of Abimelech gave him some "start-up money" to establish his leadership. He did this, but in a way that they never imagined—he hired vain and light persons to kill all his brothers on his father's side, to ensure there would never be a challenger to his leadership. How could the half-brothers of Abimelech, on his mother's side, ever agree to such a brutal plan? Because all they were interested in was their own benefit and wellbeing.

Folks, selfish self-interest may elect a leader good for one's self, but never one who is good for the nation. Most people elect leaders today based on which one promises them a bigger handout, without regard for what it will do for the country.

and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone:
He was assisted by the ruffians he had hired with seventy pieces of silver; they laid his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal (His brothers on the father's side, [21]Judges 8:30; the only persons who were likely to hinder him in establishing his tyranny.), one after another upon the same stone, which was a convenient method to execute them, signifying a public, cold blooded formal execution rather than a defeat in battle, and suggests a parallel to animals offered in sacrifice on a stone alter. The rock served as an altar on which they were sacrificed to Baal; it was purchased out of the temple money which was taken to hire the executioners. This was a usual way of securing an ill-gotten throne; the person who had no right destroying all those that had rights, so that he would have no competitors. Abimilech would signify that this was an act of justice, in killing them all in an orderly manner, for some supposed crime, probably, sedition and rebellion. When we look at that bloody rock and the slain bodies of his brethren our modern-day sensitivities are shocked at how cruelly he got his father's sons out of the way. This is the first mention of a barbarous atrocity which has, with appalling frequency, been perpetrated in the tyrannical countries of the East--that one son of the deceased monarch seizing the throne and rushing to secure his position by the massacre of all the natural or legitimate competitors. Abimelech slew his brethren on one stone, either by dashing them from one rock, or sacrificing them on one stone altar, in revenge for the demolition of Baal's altar by their father. This latter view is more probable, since the Shechemites [13](Jud 9:24) aided Abimelech in it.

Here it says that seventy were slain, threescore and ten persons, and then at the end of the verse we are told that one escaped— the round number being given (2 remained; Abimelech and Jotham), as in many other instances, as in [5](Genesis 46:27). This type of wholesale murder was often practiced in ancient times, as in the cases of the seventy sons of Ahab [6](2 Kings 10:7), the royal seed of Judah [7](2 Kings 11:1), the whole house of Jeroboam [8](1 Kings 15:29), and the whole house of Zimri [9](1 Kings 16:11,12). As atrocious as such deeds were, they were no more evil than the wholesale murders inflicted upon mankind by the vicious lords of Communism such as Stalin and Castro in this present century, whose murderous "liquidation" of helpless victims reached a total of millions. No less gargantuan wickedness was that of Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany (His victims included 6,000,000 Jews.). From this we can say that tyrants in order to establish the power they obtained by force, will not spare innocent blood, ([10]2 Kings 10:7; [11]2 Chronicles 21:4).

There are two things we need to notice about this bloody tragedy:
1) The power of ambition will turn men into beasts, it will break through all the ties of natural affection and good conscience, and then it will easily sacrifice that which is most sacred, dear, and valuable, to its aspirations. I think it must be strange that such ambitions could capture a man’s mind and enter into his heart and change it into something that can commit such barbarous acts!
2) The peril of honor and high birth. It was because they were the sons of such a great man as Gideon that they exposed themselves to Abimelech’s jealously of them. We find just the same number of Ahab's sons were slain together at Samaria, [10]2 Kings 10:7. The feudal lords seldom thought of themselves as being safe while any of their brethren remained alive. Therefore, no one should envy those of high standing, or complain of their own poverty and obscurity. The lower the safer.

This tragedy brings a question to mind: “Why didn’t somebody stop these murders and defend Gideon’s family? Because the people of Israel had forgotten both the goodness of the Lord and the kindness of Gideon [20](Judges 8.33-35). They had neither the conviction to be concerned nor the courage to intervene. It doesn’t take long for society to change yesterday’s hero into today’s scoundrel.

notwithstanding, yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left;
That is, all the seventy were killed except Jotham, unless there were seventy besides Jotham, which is clearly not the case from the scripture presented. All the histories of all the nations of the earth are full of cruelties similar to those of Abimelech: cousins, uncles, brothers, husbands, and fathers have been murdered by their cousins, nephews, brothers, wives, and children, in order that they might have the undisputed possession of an ill-gotten throne. Europe, Asia, and Africa, can confirm this. Even now, some of these horribly obtained governments exist.

for he hid himself;
No doubt Abimelech, and his crew, began by laying hold of the eldest, and sacrifice them first, since they were the greatest threat; this alerted Jotham the youngest not only to their plan, but gave him an opportunity to escape to a place where he was safe. The method of his escape is unexplained by the text; Jotham was able to escape and became the only living descendant of Gideon. What a tragic end for the family of a man so mightily used of God, to have his family destroyed in such a vicious manner.

6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem. (Judges 9:1-6; KJV)
6 All the citizens from Shechem and Beth Millo united. They went to the oak tree that was still standing in Shechem and proclaimed Abimelech king.  (Judges 9:1-6; GW)
         

And all the men of Shechem gathered together…
Upon the return of Abimelech, after he, along with his thugs had committed the deplorable murder of his brethren, he met with the wealthy and influential leaders of Shechem, which no doubt included the priests of Baal, in the town house, or common hall, which he calls the tower of Shechem in [14]Judges 9:49.

and all the house of Millo (i.e., Beth-millo, house of the fortress.) The house of Millo was either the men of a place near to Shechem, or his brother's family, or some grand prominent family in Shechem; or it may mean the town hall, where a large number of the principal inhabitants met with Abimelech. 

A group of archaeologists sponsored by Harvard University "discovered that the three buildings mentioned in this chapter, namely, `the Tower of Shechem,' `the house of Baal-berith' and the `House of Millo' was one and the same, and that it was the largest temple-fortress in Palestine." Furthermore, the same group established that Shechem was destroyed about 1150 B.C.

and went and made Abimelech king; by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.
This was truly a bold and daring action; having been done without asking for God’s counsel, without which no king was to be set over Israel, and by a single city, without the knowledge, advice, and consent of the body of the people of Israel.  They met by the pillar that stood in the plain near Shechem; and there they did this business of voting Abimelech to be their king. There is another explanation for how this was done which says that they met by the oak near the pillar in Shechem, which means the meeting took place at the stone under an oak; the one which Joshua placed there as a testimony between God and the people, [12](Joshua 24:25-27) and here, in the same place where Joshua convened the people of Israel, and made his last speech to them, was where this business of crowning a King was done. There was a raised mound there—so that the ceremony of coronation might be conspicuous to a crowd.

What they ought to have done, since he was one of their citizens, rather than making him their king was to prosecute and punish Abimelech for this brutal murder of his half-brothers. His wickedness was rewarded with a crown. What benefits do you suppose they could have expected from a king that laid the foundation of his kingdom in blood? The rest of the Israelites were so very unconcerned, having their minds on personal and local matters that they just sit back and let Abimelech assume control of Shechem. They made no effort to stop him, to protect the sons of Gideon, or to avenge their death, but tamely submitted to the bloody tyrant. They acted like along with the loss of their religion that they lost their reason, and all sense of honor and liberty, justice and gratitude; it is for this that they are charged with ingratitude [17](Judges 8:35).

The location of the place for Abimelech’s coronation was strictly a political decision. By calling for the coronation to take place at that famous oak tree which had religious significance and figured so prominently in previous Israelite history, he arranged, "The defilement of a great covenant sanctuary," thus indicating his contempt for all the sacred traditions of Israel. This so-called "kingdom" of Abimelech, however, was a very limited thing. "It hardly extended beyond western Manasseh. Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that Abimelech "ruled over all Israel." Davis (p. 118) states: “It is doubtful that the reign of Abimelech gained recognition anywhere else than in the Shechem area, and even this was shortlived.” Therefore, Abimelech is usually not counted as an actual king over all Israel, nor does the text state that he exercised the Spirit-given position of a judge. He must be looked upon as a usurper king.

When all the preparations were completed for Abimelech's election, the men of Shechem proceeded to choose him king. God was not consulted whether they should have any king at all, much less who it should be; there is no seeking advice from the priest or from their brethren or from any other city or tribe; although it was their plan that he should reign over all Israel. The Shechemites, acting as if they were the people and that wisdom must die with them, did all they could; they aided and abetted him in the murder of his brethren [13](Judges 9:24), and then they made him king. The men of Shechem (that is, the great men, the chief magistrates of the city, the upper class that lived in a part of the city called Beth Millo), along with the common people, those that met in their guildhall (we read often of the house of Millo, or state-house in Jerusalem, or the city of David, [15]2 Samuel 5:9, [16]2Ki+12:20), are the ones who made him king. However, Abimelech’s coronation was a farce, an empty ritual that was never accepted or blessed by the Lord. The new “king” not only blasphemed God by the promises he made, but he defiled a place sacred in Jewish history.

By the plain of the pillar is better translated “terebinth”? or “oak.” There is a significant connection of this incident with biblical history. Jacob had buried the seraphim (idols) of his family under an oak at Shechem [19](Gen 35:4), and Joshua set up a pillar as a witness to the covenant between God and Israel at the same location [18](Josh 24:26). Cundall (p. 127) observes: “It is of interest to note that Rehoboam went to Shechem, following the death of Solomon, to secure the acclamation of the Israelites, though the city itself was in ruins at that time (I Kgs 12).”


____________________________________General Notes________________________________________

[1](Judges 9.28; NKJV): “Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him?”
[2](Genesis 29:14; NKJV): “And Laban said to him, "Surely you are my bone and my flesh..."
[3] Usurped: commandeer. To take quick and forcible possession of: confiscate, expropriate, grab, seize, snatch. To lay claim for oneself or as one's right: appropriate, arrogate, assume, preempt, seize, take, usurp.
[4] (Zephaniah 3.4; KJV): “Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.” They have no seriousness, no deep conviction of the awful nature of their office, no concern for the immortal souls of the people. Treacherous persons—they betray the souls of the people for the sake of worldly honor, pleasure, and profit. Even in our own enlightened country we find prophets who prefer hunting the hare or the fox, and pursuing the partridge and pheasant, to visiting the sick, and going after the strayed, lost sheep of the house of Israel. Poor souls! They know neither God nor themselves; and if they did visit the sick, they could not speak to them to exhortation, edification, or comfort. God never called them to his work; therefore they know nothing of it. But Oh, what an account have these pleasure-taking false prophets to render to the Shepherd of souls!—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[5](Genesis 46:27; NKJV) “And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.” That figure can be obtained from verses 8-27 of chapter 46:


Jacob's Family
JACOB'S children, eleven sons and one daughter 12
Reuben's sons 4
Simeon's sons 6
Levi's sons 3
Judah's three sons and two grandsons 5
Issachar's sons 4
Zebulun's sons 3
Gad's sons 7
Asher's four sons, one daughter, and two grandsons 7
Dan's son 1
Naphtali's sons 4
Benjamin's sons 10
Total 66
 
"If to these sixty-six children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, we add Jacob himself, Joseph and his two sons, the amount is seventy, the whole amount of Jacob's family which settled in Egypt.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[6](2 Kings 10:7; NKJV) “So it was, when the letter came to them, that they took the king's sons and slaughtered seventy persons, put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel.”
[7](2 Kings 11:1; NLT) “When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of the royal family.”
[8](1 Kings 15:29; KJV) “ And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite:”
[9](1 Kings 16:11, 12; KJV) “And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.”
[10](2 Kings 10:7; NLT) “When the letter arrived, the leaders killed all seventy of the king’s sons. They placed their heads in baskets and presented them to Jehu at Jezreel.” Put their heads in baskets—What cold-blooded wretches were the whole of these people!—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[11]2 Chronicles 21:4; NKJV) “Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others of the princes of Israel.” Slew all his brethren—what a truly diabolic thing is the lust of power! It destroys all the charities of life, and renders those who are under its influence the truest resemblants of the arch fiend. That he might sit the more secure upon his throne, this execrable man imbrues his hands in the blood of his own brothers! There are more instances of this species of cruelty among bad Asiatic kings than among any other class of men. The history of every country abounds in proofs; even that of our own is not the least barren.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[12](Joshua 24:25-27) “25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. 27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.”
[13](Judges 9.24; KJV) “That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.”
[14](Judges 9:49; NLT) “So each of them cut down some branches, following Abimelech’s example. They piled the branches against the walls of the temple and set them on fire. So all the people who had lived in the tower of Shechem died—about 1,000 men and women.”
[15](2 Samuel 5:9; NLT) “So David made the fortress his home, and he called it the City of David. He extended the city, starting at the supporting terraces and working inward.”
[16](2 Ki. 12:20; KJV) “And his servants arose, and made a conspiracy, and slew Joash in the house of Millo, which goeth down to Silla.”
[17](Judges 8:35; NLT) “Nor did they show any loyalty to the family of Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon), despite all the good he had done for Israel.”
[18](Josh 24:26; NKJV) “Then Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.”
[19](Gen 35:4; NLT) “So they gave Jacob all their pagan idols and earrings, and he buried them under the great tree near Shechem.” Jacob hid them under the oak -- or terebinth -- a towering tree, which, like all others of the kind, was a striking object in the scenery of Palestine; and beneath which, at Shechem, the patriarch had pitched his tent. He hid the images and amulets, delivered to him by his Mesopotamian dependents, at the root of this tree. The oak being deemed a consecrated tree, to bury them at its root was to deposit them in a place where no bold hand would venture to disturb the ground; and hence it was called from this circumstance -- "the plain of Meonenim" -- that is, "the oak of enchantments" (Judges 9:37); and from the great stone which Joshua set up -- "the oak of the pillar" (Judges 9:6).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[20](Judges 8.33-35; NKJV) “33 So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god. 34 Thus the children of Israel did not remember the LORD their God, who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side; 35 nor did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal (Gideon) in accordance with the good he had done for Israel.” They were both unthankful and unholy. Though they had the clearest proofs of God's power and goodness before their eyes, yet they forgot him. And although they were under the greatest obligations to Gideon, and were once so sensible of them that they offered to settle the kingdom on him and his family, yet they forgot him also; for, becoming foes to GOD, they could not be friends to MAN.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
[21] (Judges 8.30; NKJV) “Gideon had seventy sons who were his own offspring, for he had many wives.”

Make a Free Website with Yola.