Judges 9 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Abimelech Becomes King
9 Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to his mother’s brothers at Shechem and spoke to them and to all his maternal grandfather’s clan, saying, 2 “Please speak in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, ‘Is it better for you that 70 men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you or that one man rule over you?’ Remember that I am your own flesh and blood.”[a]
3 His mother’s relatives spoke all these words about him in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, and they were favorable to Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4 So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith.[b] Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men with this money, and they followed him. 5 He went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his 70 brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on top of a large stone. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid himself. 6 Then all the lords of Shechem and of Beth-millo gathered together and proceeded to make Abimelech king at the oak of the pillar in Shechem.
7 When they told Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and called to them:
Listen to me, lords of Shechem,
8 The trees set out
10 Then the trees said to the fig tree,
12 Later, the trees said to the grapevine,
14 Finally, all the trees said to the bramble,
16 “Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did— 17 for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian, 18 and now you have attacked my father’s house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem ‘because he is your brother’— 19 if then you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you. 20 But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.” 21 Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and lived there because of his brother Abimelech.
22 When Abimelech had ruled over Israel three years, 23 God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully, 24 so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers. 25 The lords of Shechem rebelled against him by putting people on the tops of the mountains to ambush and rob everyone who passed by them on the road. So this was reported to Abimelech.
26 Gaal son of Ebed came with his brothers and crossed into Shechem, and the lords of Shechem trusted him. 27 So they went out to the countryside and harvested grapes from their vineyards. They trampled the grapes and held a celebration. Then they went to the house of their god, and as they ate and drank, they cursed Abimelech. 28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem that we should serve him? Isn’t he the son of Jerubbaal, and isn’t Zebul his officer? You are to serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech? 29 If only these people were in my power, I would remove Abimelech.” So he said[f] to Abimelech, “Gather your army and come out.”
30 When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was angry. 31 So he sent messengers secretly to Abimelech, saying, “Look, Gaal son of Ebed, with his brothers, have come to Shechem and are turning the city against you.[g] 32 Now tonight, you and the people with you are to come wait in ambush in the countryside. 33 Then get up early, and at sunrise charge the city. When he and the people who are with him come out against you, do to him whatever you can.”[h] 34 So Abimelech and all the people with him got up at night and waited in ambush for Shechem in four units.
35 Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate. Then Abimelech and the people who were with him got up from their ambush. 36 When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” But Zebul said to him, “The shadows of the mountains look like men to you.”
37 Then Gaal spoke again, “Look, people are coming down from the central part of the land, and one unit is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.” 38 Zebul replied,[i] “Where is your mouthing off now? You said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Aren’t these the people you despised? Now go and fight them!”
39 So Gaal went out leading the lords of Shechem and fought against Abimelech, 40 but Abimelech pursued him, and Gaal fled before him. Many wounded died as far as the entrance of the gate. 41 Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers from Shechem.
42 The next day when the people went into the countryside, this was reported to Abimelech. 43 He took the people, divided them into three companies, and waited in ambush in the countryside. He looked, and the people were coming out of the city, so he arose against them and struck them down. 44 Then Abimelech and the units that were with him rushed forward and took their stand at the entrance of the city gate. The other two units rushed against all who were in the countryside and struck them down. 45 So Abimelech fought against the city that entire day, captured it, and killed the people who were in it. Then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.
46 When all the lords of the Tower of Shechem heard, they entered the inner chamber[j] of the temple of El-berith.[k] 47 Then it was reported to Abimelech that all the lords of the Tower of Shechem had gathered together. 48 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him went up to Mount Zalmon. Abimelech took his ax in his hand and cut a branch from the trees. He picked up the branch, put it on his shoulder, and said to the people who were with him, “Hurry and do what you have seen me do.” 49 Each person also cut his own branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches against the inner chamber and set it on fire around the people, and all the people in the Tower of Shechem died—about 1,000 men and women.
50 Abimelech went to Thebez, camped against it, and captured it. 51 There was a strong tower inside the city, and all the men, women, and lords of the city fled there. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof of the tower. 52 When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he approached its entrance to set it on fire. 53 But a woman threw the upper portion of a millstone on Abimelech’s head and fractured his skull. 54 He quickly called his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, or they’ll say about me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his armor-bearer thrust him through, and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
56 In this way, God turned back on Abimelech the evil that he had done against his father, by killing his 70 brothers. 57 And God also returned all the evil of the men of Shechem on their heads. So the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal came on them.
Judges 9 New International Version (NIV)
9 Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother’s clan, 2 “Ask all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal’s sons rule over you, or just one man?’ Remember, I am your flesh and blood.”
3 When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelek, for they said, “He is related to us.” 4 They gave him seventy shekels[a] of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek used it to hire reckless scoundrels, who became his followers. 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding. 6 Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king.
7 When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, “Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. 8 One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’
9 “But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’
10 “Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’
11 “But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’
12 “Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’
13 “But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’
14 “Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’
15 “The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
16 “Have you acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family? Have you treated him as he deserves? 17 Remember that my father fought for you and risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian. 18 But today you have revolted against my father’s family. You have murdered his seventy sons on a single stone and have made Abimelek, the son of his female slave, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is related to you. 19 So have you acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today? If you have, may Abimelek be your joy, and may you be his, too! 20 But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!”
21 Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek.
22 After Abimelek had governed Israel three years, 23 God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek. 24 God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelek and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. 25 In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelek.
26 Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. 27 After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelek. 28 Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek? 29 If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘Call out your whole army!’”[b]
30 When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry. 31 Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you. 32 Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait in the fields. 33 In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, seize the opportunity to attack them.”
34 So Abimelek and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies. 35 Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops came out from their hiding place.
36 When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”
Zebul replied, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.”
37 But Gaal spoke up again: “Look, people are coming down from the central hill,[c] and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.”
38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek that we should be subject to him?’ Aren’t these the men you ridiculed? Go out and fight them!”
39 So Gaal led out[d] the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelek. 40 Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled. 41 Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.
42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek. 43 So he took his men, divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them. 44 Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down. 45 All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.
46 On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. 47 When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there, 48 he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, “Quick! Do what you have seen me do!” 49 So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.
50 Next Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51 Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
54 Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.
56 Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers. 57 God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.