The Period Of The Judges

   
Chapter 39
Application of the Fable [Judges 9.16-9.21]

 

Scripture: Judges 9:16-21 (KJV)

 

16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

 

Introduction

We are given the fable in Chapter 38 and now in Judges 9:16-20, Jotham gives the application of his fable, because there was no necessity for any special explanation of it, since it was perfectly clear and intelligible in itself. Notice should be made that the whole point of reference in Chapter 38 is Abimelech: here it is the Lords of Shechem. Jotham attributes the slaying of his brothers to the citizens of Shechem, and he calls it a crime which they themselves had committed [1](Judges 9.4), because they had given Abimelech money out of their temple of Baal to carry out his plans against the sons of Jerubbaal. In this accusation he had, strictly speaking, already pronounced sentence upon their evil actions. When, therefore, he proceeds still further in Judges 9:19 to say, "If ye have acted in truth towards Jerubbaal ... then rejoice," etc. This statement contains the bitterest scorn at the faithlessness manifested towards Jerubbaal. If that's the case nothing could follow but the fulfillment of the threat and the bursting forth of the fire. In carrying out this point the application goes beyond the actual meaning of the parable itself. Not only will fire go forth from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and the inhabitants of Millo, but fire will also go forth from them and devour Abimelech himself. The fulfillment of this threat was not delayed for long, as the following history shows [2](Judges 9:23).


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[1](Judges 9:4; KJV) “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.”
[2](Judges 9:23; KJV) “Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:” God sent an evil spirit—He permitted jealousies to take place which produced factions; and these factions produced insurrections, civil contentions, and slaughter.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
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Commentary


16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;–Judges 9:16 (KJV)
16 “If you acted with sincerity and integrity when you made Abimelech king, {be happy.} If you treated Jerubbaal and his family well, if you treated him as he deserved, be happy.–Judges 9:16 (GW)

 

Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king…If they had done this conscientiously, and honorably; taken such a corrupt man, and a murderer, and made him their king, which Jotham doubted, and so now he questions their motives and suggests that they ask themselves the same question and consider their actions. Now we know that the real reason the men of Shechem like Abimelech was because he was their brother - Abimelech's mother was from Shechem, and he probably grew up there—“And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech”(Judges 8:31; KJV). Jotham's warning to the men of Shechem is that their unwise choice will come back to hurt them; "fire" will come forth from Abimelech and it will devour them. The city of Shechem will be repaid for choosing such a worthless man.

Jehovah is known by the judgment which he carries out; His holiness and His revulsion at sin are often displayed in his actions against sinful men. A ruler who winked at evil would soon be known by all his subjects to be evil himself; on the other hand, a ruler who is consistently "just" in his judgments reveals that he is an honorable man, and he will gain the respect of all his subjects. So long as our God is God, he will not, he cannot spare the guilty; except through that one glorious way in which he is just, and yet the justifier of him that places his faith in Jesus. We must also notice that His judgments are especially wise, and indisputably just. He makes the wicked contribute to their own punishment by manipulating persons and circumstance. Here is how He does it. "The [3]heathen fall down into the pit that they dug themselves. Like cunning hunters they prepared a deep pit for the godly, but they fell into it themselves: the foot of the victim escaped their crafty snares: the cruel snare proved its effectiveness by snaring its own maker. Persecutors and oppressors are often ruined by their own cruel projects. Drunkards kill themselves; prodigals (or spendthrifts) often end up in poverty; the quick-tempered are involved in actions that may ruin them; the vicious are consumed by fierce diseases; the envious are eaten up with jealousy; and blasphemers curse their own souls. As a consequence, men may recognize their sin in their punishment. They sowed the seed of sin, and the ripe fruit of damnation is the natural result.

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[3]heathen: At this time, God dealt almost exclusively with the Israelites; therefore, a heathen would be anyone that is not Jewish. Today, some would call all non-Christians “heathens.”
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I said beforehand, “Jehovah is known by the judgments He carries out.” Now, if the Lord is known by the judgments which he carries out; then, the judgments which he carries out must be known; it must be an open judgment; and many judgments of God are executed as if they are acted out upon a stage. I will give you three reasons for why the Lord will sometimes execute justice in the open sight of others.
First, so as to insure that there may be witnesses of what He has done, and so that a record of it will be kept, at least in the minds and memories of faithful men for generations to come.
Secondly, the Lord does things openly so that His justice and all that proceeds from it may bear fruit and have an effect upon those who did not feel it, or fall under it. This was the reason why the Lord threatened to punish Jerusalem in the sight of the nations. [4]Ezekiel 5:6-8,14-15...God would execute judgment in Jerusalem, a city placed in the midst of the nations; the nations had taken notice of the extraordinary favors, benefits, deliverances, and salvations which God fashioned for Jerusalem, so now God would see that they take notice of his judgments and harsh displeasure against them. Jerusalem was not situated in some nook, corner, or out of the way place in the world, but in the midst of the nations, so that both the goodness and severity of God toward them might be conspicuous...God lets some sinners suffer, or He might punish them openly, both because he wanted all others to take notice that he dislikes what they have done, and also because he wants to stop others from doing the same thing, so that He doesn’t have to punish them in the same way. It is good for us to learn from the mistakes that other men make.
Thirdly, God strikes some wicked men in open view for the comfort and encouragement of his own people; [5]Psalms 58:10-11. "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance;" it is not that he is glad of the vengeance because it has caused  suffering; but the righteous will be glad when he sees the vengeance of God because it is a fulfillment of the threatening of God against the sin of man, and an evidence of His own holiness...It is said [6](Exodus 14:30-31), that when God overwhelmed the Egyptians in the Red Sea, that the Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore: God did not allow the carcasses of the Egyptians to sink to the bottom of the sea, but caused them to wash upon the shore, so that the Israelites would see them; and when Israel saw the results of that dreadful stroke of the Lord upon the Egyptians, it is said, "The people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses." Thus was their faith confirmed by God's open judgments upon the Egyptians. They were destroyed in clear view of the people of Israel.

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[4](Ezekiel 5:6-8, 14-15; NLT) “but she has rebelled against my regulations and decrees and has been even more wicked than the surrounding nations. She has refused to obey the regulations and decrees I gave her to follow. “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. Therefore, I myself, the Sovereign LORD, am now your enemy. I will punish you publicly while all the nations watch…So I will turn you into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when the LORD punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says the LORD.”
[5](Psalms 58:10-11; GW) “Righteous people will rejoice when they see {God} take revenge. They will wash their feet in the blood of wicked people.  Then people will say, “Righteous people certainly have a reward. There is a God who judges on earth.” wash . . . wicked -- denoting great slaughter. The joy of triumph over the destruction of the wicked is because they are God's enemies, and their overthrow shows that He reigneth (compare Ps 52:5-7 Ps 54:7). In this assurance let heaven and earth rejoice (Ps 96:10 Ps 97:1, &c.).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
[6](Exodus 14:30-31; NKJV) “So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.” Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore—By the extraordinary agitation of the waters, no doubt multitudes of the dead Egyptians were cast on the shore, and by their spoils the Israelites were probably furnished with considerable riches, and especially clothing and arms; which latter were essentially necessary to them in their wars with the Amalekites, Basanites, and Amorites, etc., on their way to the promised land. If they did not get their arms in this way, we know not how they got them, as there is not the slightest reason to believe that they brought any with them out of Egypt.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
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And if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal, and his house;...If they could actually think that they treated them well, which most definitely they could not, when they thought about the murder of his family, they had consented to and perhaps took part in.

Jotham aggravates the leaders of Shechem for their unkindness to his father's family...They had not treated him and his family as they deserved, [7]Judges 9:16. Great men often meet with little regard for their accomplishments, after they have passed on, especially when they are forgotten, as Joseph was among the Egyptians. Gideon had left many sons that were an honor to his name and family, but they were savagely murdered; only two remained and one of them was a stain on his name and family. He was the son of his maid-servant, whom all those that had any respect for Gideon's honor would try to conceal, yet they made him their king. When they did that they put the utmost disrespect imaginable upon Gideon.

and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;...The question is, had they honored his memory, and that of his family, to the extent that he deserved for the great victories he won for them and the benefits they received because of it. What we have here in the murder of Gideon’s children is sin; willful sin. But the word of God clearly states that the Lord punishes sin. There is no stronger statement in the Bible than “The wages of sin is death.” It also says, “The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.” Not only do we read it in the word of God, but throughout all history, all experience records the same righteous justice of God, in snaring the wicked in the work of their own hands. Perhaps the most striking instance on record, besides Haman’s execution on his own gallows, is one connected with the horrors of the French Revolution, in which we are told that, "within nine months of the death of the queen Marie Antoinette by the guillotine, every one implicated in her untimely end, her accusers, the judges, the jury, the prosecutors, the witnesses, everyone at least those whose fate is known, perished by the same instrument as their innocent victim." They were caught in the same trap they had set for her—they fell into the pit which they dug for her. {Barton Bouchier, 1855}

The wages that sin bargains with the sinner are life, pleasure, and profit; but the wages it pays him with are death, torment, and destruction. He that would understand the falsehood and deceit of sin must compare its promises and its payment together. Robert South, D.D., 1633- 1716.

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[7](Judges 9:16; GW) “If you acted with sincerity and integrity when you made Abimelech king, {be happy.} If you treated Jerubbaal and his family well, if you treated him as he deserved, be happy.”
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17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:-Judges 9:17 (KJV)
17 My father fought for you. He risked his life and rescued you from Midian.–Judges 9:17 (GW)

 

For my father fought for you...In the valley of Jezreel, and at Karkor, where with three hundred men he routed and destroyed an army of 135,000.

This accusation, made by Jotham, is very precise and clear. In it, he reminds them of some of the many good things his father had done for them. He led them into battles, at the risk of own life, and they were victorious because God advised him and fought for them, giving them an unspeakable advantage. It was a shame that they needed to be put in mind of this.

and adventured his life far:...According to our version, contained in this commentary, this may be a reference to his crossing over the Jordan River, and following the Midianites as they are fleeing into their country. He went to battle against them at Karkor, which was a great distance from his tribe and home. The phrase "and adventured his life far" is, "he cast away his life afar," in the original text, which means he made no account of it, exposed it to the greatest danger; or, as the Targum has it, “He delivered his life as it were to destruction.”

and delivered you out of the hand of Midian;...He saved them from the oppression and bondage of the Midianites, under which they had labored for seven years.

It is a shame that they were acting as if they had forgotten Gideon and his exploits on their behalf; but, they did worse when they failed to give God the praise He was due, because He gave the victory to Gideon’s little band of fighters. He was the One who caused the confusion in the Midianite camp that led to the warriors of Midian killing each other. The justice which has punished the wicked Midianites, and preserved the Israelites, remains the same, and therefore in days to come, retribution will surely be meted out to the citizens of Shechem. Psalms 9:17, has a solemn warning to forgetters of God: “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.” (Psalms 9:17; NLT) The moral men who are not devout, the honest men who are not prayerful, the benevolent men who do not believe, the kind men who are not converted, will all have their own part along with the openly wicked in the hell which is prepared for the devil and his angels. There are whole nations with such men; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane or degenerate, and according to scripture all of them will be hurled headlong into the most remote place in hell. Forgetfulness seems like a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

By “the wicked”,  we must understand that the meaning is “unregenerate persons.” That is the person spoken of here as a “wicked” man that forgets God, who does not think of him frequently, and with love, with respect and delight, and the adoration that are appropriate to serious thoughts of God... To forget God and to be a wicked person is one-and-the-same. And these two things corroborate the truth of this assertion: namely, that this forgetfulness of God rules out the main essentials of religion, and embraces in it the highest and most atrocious portions of wickedness, and therefore it will dominate the subject, a wicked person.

Forgetfulness of God implies that a man does not esteem or value the all sufficiency and holiness of God; that He is not his happiness and portion, his strength and support; he does not fear Him, or live in subjection to his laws and commands; his purpose is not the glory of God: therefore everyone who forgets God, must certainly be a wicked person. To exclude God from our thoughts and not let him have a place there, or think about Him, is the greatest wickedness that can be; it is enough to send anyone to hell for all eternity.

We could at this point talk about what it will be like to be thrown into hell: anguish, tears, solitude, never-ending torment, the lake of fire.  But it is enough to know that we don’t have to go there; we will never forget Him, because we know: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”—John 3:15-18 (KJV).

 

18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)-Judges 9:18 (KJV)
18 But today you have attacked my father's family. You have executed his 70 sons. You have made Abimelech, who is the son of my father's slave girl, king over the citizens of Shechem just because he's your brother.–Judges 9:18 (GW)

And ye are risen up against my father's house this day…The murder of his seventy sons was not only a great tragedy; it was an instance of great ingratitude shown by them, especially after Gideon had done such great services for them, and they had received favors from God because of him. It doesn’t say so, but they may have killed Gideon’s grandchildren, his son’s wives and even his servants. It was a cowardly act perpetrated by men who had blocked the knowledge of God from their minds.

and have slain his sons, seventy persons on one stone,...Only Jotham, Gideon’s youngest son, had escaped the slaughter and he is the one making these accusations against Abimelech and the men of Shechem. They planned to kill Jotham too; therefore, even though he was alive the rounded number is given. Abimelech was responsible, because he called for the murders, but the men of Shechem were accessories to it; they gave him money, with which he hired men to assist him in it, (see Judges 9:20) and it is very probable they were privy to his intentions, and encouraged him to do it; and we know for certain that they approved of it since they showed their endorsement of it by making Abimelech king after the evil deed was done, and therefore they, along with Abimelech are rightly charged with the crime of murder.

and have made Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, king over the men of Shechem...This was both a disgrace to Gideon, and his family, and to them too, that a dishonorable son of his would be made their king; when it would have been more to the credit of Gideon, and his family, if he had lived in obscurity, and had not been known as a son of his. The men of Shechem, and especially their princes (by the men of Shechem are meant the lords, and great men of the city, as Kimchi observes) are held in contempt for making Abimilech their king; and Abimelech himself is looked down on because he is represented here as making a very poor figure of a king, seeing that he was the son of an [8]handmaid, and king over the men of Shechem for  no other reason but this—he lived there and was related to them through his mother.

because he is your brother;
The real reason the men of Shechem like Abimelech was because he was their brother— Abimelech's mother was from Shechem, and he probably grew up there [9](Judges 8:31); he was king, not because he had any right to the kingdom, or had any qualification for it, but only because his mother lived among them, and her family belonged to them, and so he was related to many of them, and they hoped on that account to receive preferential treatment and favors from him.

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[8]Handmaid or Maidservant—Abimelech’s mother was a concubine, which is a disparaging term. She lived in Shechem with her family, and Gideon would visit her when he had an occasion to go to that city. Armerding interpreted this expression as a slur upon Abimelech, but Boling was of the opinion that, “The words (handmaid or maidservant) as it is used here do not ascribe to Abimelech's mother either high or low social status. Nevertheless, there was some difference between a concubine and a slave-girl, and therefore we are inclined to view this reference to Abimelech's mother as derogatory.
[9](Judges 8:31; NLT) “He also had a concubine in Shechem, who gave birth to a son, whom he named Abimelech.” His concubine—A lawful but secondary wife, whose children could not inherit. Whose name he called Abimelech—That is, my father is king, or my father hath reigned. This name was doubtless given by the mother, and so it should be understood here; she wished to raise her son to the supreme government, and therefore gave him a name which might serve to stimulate him to seek that which she hoped he should enjoy in his father's right.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
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19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:-Judges 9:19 (KJV)
19 So if you are now acting with sincerity and integrity toward Jerubbaal and his family, then be happy with Abimelech and let Abimelech be happy with you.–Judges 9:19 (GW)

If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and his house this day…Here Jotham inquires of them if they could in good consciences think and believe they had treated Gideon and his family well. He leaves it up to them to decide the issue: whether they had acted faithfully and uprightly in their treatment of Gideon and his family. He wants them to mull it over, so he gives them something to think about: “If your conduct towards the house of Gideon is such that it can be justified at any bar of justice, then you and your king is due to receive much good.”

then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you;...He suggests a test of their former behavior: If you are happy with him as a king, and he is happy with you as his subjects, and you live peaceably and comfortably together; and the alliance between you and Abimelech this attended with happiness, which he could not believe would be the case, then it would seem that they had treated Gideon and his family justly and well; but if the alliance turns out to be an unhappy one, as he supposed it would, then it would be clear that they had acted dishonorably and deceitfully with his father's family. Moore noted the irony in this passage, paraphrasing it, "Much happiness may you have in this bramble-king of yours." It is as though he had said, "You treacherous criminals certainly deserve one another"!

 


20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.–Judges 9:20 (KJV)
20 But if that's not the case, let fire come out of Abimelech and burn up citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo. Also let fire come out of citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo and burn up Abimelech.”
–Judges 9:20 (GW)

But if not…Having laid the foundation for the curse which he was about to utter, Jotham made this announcement: “If it is revealed that they had not acted uprightly and sincerely in this matter…or if they had, as Jotham was sure they had, dealt reprehensibly and wickedly with Gideon and his family, let them never expect to prosper. Abimelech and the Shechemites, that had bolstered one another's hands in this crime, would certainly be a plague and ruin one another. Let none expect to do evil and fare well.

let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech;...The same as the thorn or bramble may be the means of kindling other wood, because it can be easily ignited; so shall Abimelech be the cause of kindling a fire of civil discord among you, that shall consume the rulers and great men of your country. This is a prophetic declaration of what would take place when wrath, rage, and fury, breaks out from Abimelech like fire, and brings about the destruction of those that made him king, both those of Shechem and of [10]Millo. This was the curse of Jotham, and it was exactly fulfilled within the space of about three years. See the last verse of this chapter [11](vs. 57) for its fulfillment. The tower of Shechem, or Millo House, was destroyed about 1150, (as noted above), which drew this comment from Boling: "This means that we are dealing with authentic early tradition." My own view is that we are dealing with early inspired writings, probably by Samuel himself, at a time well ahead of the anointing of Saul, and that such inspired writing is far more authentic than any tradition.

There is a principle that is in view here that is still true today—when a good ruler or president comes into office some people say “God raised him up.” What about the wicked ruler? God permits him to come to the throne also. Do you know why? Here is the principle; “like priest, like people;” people get the ruler they deserve. The people of Israel wanted this man to rule over them and they got the caliber of man they deserved. Look around the world today and you will find this principle is still at work.

For further consideration: Abemilech wanted to be king, but to achieve his goal he was actually trying to wrest the kingdom away from God—“But Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23; NKJV), and the Lord permitted him to have a measure of success. But God was still on the throne, and would see to it that man’s selfish purposes would be frustrated.

It is a dangerous thing for us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think—“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3; NLT). We all need to discover the gifts God has given us and then use them in the place He has put us. Each member of the body of Christ is important (see 1 Corinthians 12.12-31), and we all need one another and to minister to one another. Since there is no competition in the work of the Lord—“Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest” (John 4:34-38; NLT); “For you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building” (1 Cor 3:3-9; NLT);

There is no need for us to promote ourselves. The important thing is for God to receive the glory.
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[10]Millo, House of Milo, or BETH-MILLO (behth-mee' loh): A place, the name meaning, “house of fullness.” A part of Shechem or a fortress guarding Shechem, where the citizens of Shechem proclaimed Abimelech king. Jotham, Jerubaal's (or Gideon's) son asked the citizens of Shechem to overthrow Abimelech at Beth Millo.
[11](Judges 9.57; NKJV) “And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.”
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21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.–Judges 9:21 (KJV)

21 Then Jotham ran away quickly. He went to Beerah and lived there {to avoid} his brother Abimelech.–Judges 9:21 (GW)

And Jotham ran away, and fled…Having expanded on his fable, and spoke of the relevance of it, he made his escape, which may have been easy to do since he had the advantage of being on the top of a hill, at some distance from the people; and perhaps they did not pursue him because they were not inclined to do him any harm, given that they knew he had a just cause and he lacked the power to do them any harm.

and went to Beer; A place remote from Shechem, and out of Abimelech's reach. There are several opinions concerning where this place is located:

  1. Some take to be Baalathbeer in the tribe of Simeon: “And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalathbeer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.” (Joshua 19:8; KJV). The name, Baalath-beer, means “The well of the mistresses.” It was probably called this because of some superstitious or impure worship performed there.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
  2. Jerom says, the village Bera, is where Jotham fled. It is eight miles from Eleutheropolis to the north; at present a desolate village called el Breh, near the mouth of Wady es Surr, not far from the former Beth-shemesh.
  3. Mr. Maundrell, who was in those parts in 1697, as he traveled from Aleppo to Jerusalem lends his opinion; and, according to him, “Beer” is about two hours and a half's travel from Bethel, and three hours and one third from Beer to Jerusalem; Beer, he says, enjoys a very pleasant situation, on an easy declivity, fronting southward; at the bottom of the hill it has a plentiful fountain of excellent water, from which it got its name: "`Beer' simply means `well'; and there were many places in Israel that could have been indicated by this." Close to the well are the moldering walls of a ruined khan; and on the summit of the hill two large arches still remain of a ruined convent. Dr. Richardson says that it seems to have once been a place of considerable consequence. [12]Nu 21:16, [13]Jos 19:8, [14]2Sa 20:14
  4. Another theory is that Jotham fled to Mishmash, [15]1 Samuel 14:5, [16]1 Samuel 14:31
  5. One final opinion is that Beer is the modern village El-Bireh, on the ridge which bounds the northern prospect of Jerusalem.

and dwelt there for fear of Abimelech his brother...How long he stayed there is not certain, and we do not hear any more of him after this. Josephus says he hid in the mountains for three years because of his fear of Abimelech, which perhaps he concluded from Abimelech's reigning for three years.

 

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[12](Numbers 21:16; KJV) “And from thence they went to Beer: that is the well whereof the LORD spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.”
[13](Joshua 19:8; KJV) “And all the villages that were round about these cities to Baalathbeer, Ramath of the south. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families.”
[14](2Sa 20:14; NKJV) “and he went through all the tribes of Israel to Abel and Beth Maachah and all the Berites. So they were gathered together and also went after Sheba.”
[15](1 Samuel 14:5; NKJV) “The front of one faced northward opposite Michmash, and the other southward opposite Gibeah.”
[16](1 Samuel 14:31; NKJV) “Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint.”
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