Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 9

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (550 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Compromise in the Promised Land (c 1-21)
Theme: The Rescue of Israel by the Judges (c 3-16)
Message: Abimelech Tries to Become King of Israel (v 1-57)

Judges 9 Commentary

(9:1-3) Abimelech Attempts to Take His Fathers Place - With Gideon dead, Abimelech wanted to take his father's place. To set his plan in motion he went to the city of Shechem, his mother's hometown, to drum up support. There he felt he could play up his kinship with the residents. Shechem was an important city, a crossroads for trade routes and a natural link between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley. Whoever controlled Shechem would dominate the countryside.

(9:2-5) Israel's King is the Lord - Israel's king was to be the Lord--not a mere person. But Abimelech wanted to usurp the position reserved for God alone. In his selfish quest, he killed all but one of his 7o half brothers. People with selfish desires for political power often seek to gain and maintain it in ruthless ways. If you are a leader, examine your ambitions to see if they are self-centered or God-centered.

Be sure you always fulfill your desires in ways aligned with God's will.

(9:4) A Political Religion - Politics played a major part in ancient religions such as the worship of Baal-berith. Governments often went so far as to hire temple prostitutes to bring in additional money. In many cases, religious systems were set up and supported by the government so the offerings could fund community projects. Religion became a profit-making business. In Israel's religion, this was strictly forbidden. God's system of religion was designed to come from an attitude of the heart, not from calculated plans and business opportunities. It was also designed to serve people and help those in need, not to oppress people in need. Is your faith genuine and sincere, or is it based on convenience, comfort, or the desire for wealth?

(9:6) Shechem and Abimelech - Abimelech was declared ruler of Israel at Shechem, the site of some other key Bible events. It was one of Abraham's first stops upon arriving in Canaan (Genesis 12:6-7). When Jacob lived there, two of his sons killed all the men in Shechem because the prince had raped their sister (Genesis 34). Joseph's bones were buried in Shechem (Joshua 24:32); Israel had renewed their covenant with God there (Joshua 24); and the kingdom of Israel would split apart at this same city (a Kings 12).

(9:7-15) Jotham's Parable - In Jotham's parable, the trees represented Gideon's 70 sons, and the bramble represented Abimelech. Jotham's point was this: A productive person would be too busy doing good to want to bother with expanding the reach of his power. A worthless person, on the other hand, would be glad to accept the honor--but he would destroy the people he ruled. Abimelech, like a thorny bramble, could offer Israel no real protection or security. Jotham's parable came true when Abimelech destroyed the city of Shechem (9:45), burned "the tower of Shechem" (the citv of Beth-millo; see 9:46-49), and was finally killed at Thebez (9:53-54).

(9:16) Jotham Goal was to Honor Gideon - Jotham told the story about the trees in order to help the people set good priorities. He did not want them to appoint a leader of low character who had dishonored Gideon and his family. As we serve in leadership positions, we should examine our motives. We should also examine carefully the character of our leaders. Do they just want praise, prestige, or power? Do they care for vulnerable people and represent us well? In the parable, the good trees chose to be productive and to provide benefits to others. Make sure these are your priorities as you aspire to leadership and as you choose leaders.

(9:22-24) Abimelech is Punished - Abimelech was the opposite of what God wanted in a judge, but three years went by before God moved against him, fulfilling Jotham's parable. Those three years must have seemed like forever to Jotham. Why wasn't Abimelech punished sooner for his evil ways? We are not alone when we wonder why evil seems to prevail (Job 10:3; 21:1-18; Jeremiah 12:1; Habakkuk 1:2-4, 12-17). God promises to deal with sin--but in his time, not ours Actually, it is good news that God doesn't punish us immediately, because we all have sinned and deserve his punishment. God, in his mercy, often spares us from immediate punishment and allows us time to turn from our sins and turn to him in repentance. Trusting God for justice means (1) we must first recognize our own sins and repent and (2) we may face a difficult time of waiting for the wicked to be punished. But we can be sure that in God's time all evil will be destroyed.

(9:23) Judgement Delivered by an Evil Spirit - This evil spirit sent by God may simply have been an attitude of strife, not something spiritual in nature. (The Hebrew words used here are subject to various interpretations.) But it may well have been initiated by a spirit assigned by God to create trouble for Abimelech. Most of the judges in this book received the Spirit of the Lord to empower and help them; here Abimelech receives a spirit of trouble that leads to his downfall. God used this spirit to bring about judgment on Abimelech and the city of Shechem. (First Samuel 16:14 records how God judged Saul in a similar way.)

(9:45)  There is strong evidence that scattering salt over a conquered city was a ritual practiced in the ancient Middle East to symbolize the city's perpetual desolation. As it turned out, Shechem would not be rebuilt for 150 years.

(9:53) Abimelec was Killed by a Woman - In times of battle, women were sometimes called upon to join the men at the city wall to drop heavy objects on the soldiers below. A millstone would have been an ideal object for killing someone from above. Millstones were used to grind grain into flour. This particular kind of millstone would have been a round stone made from basalt weighing four to five pounds. To grind flour, grain was placed on a large, flat stone, and a millstone was moved back and forth over the grain by hand to crush it. Abimelech's death was especially humiliating: He was killed by a woman, not by fighting, and he was killed by a farm implement instead of a weapon. Abimelech, therefore, asked his armour bearer to stab him with his sword before he died from the effects of the blow from the millstone.

(9:56-57) Gideons Family History - Gideon, Abimelech's father, had succeeded in military battles, but he had sometimes failed to live appropriately as a leader of God's people. Though the Bible doesn't specifically condemn Gideon for taking a concubine (8:28-32), the family problems that resulted from having many wives and children-something forbidden by Moses for future leaders of Israel (see Deuteronomy 17:14-17) are demonstrated in his life. Scripture elsewhere makes it very clear that God desires for marriage to consist of one man and one woman for life. In the end, Abimelech was held responsible for his terrible deeds. He killed 69 of his 70 half brothers, tore apart a nation, and then was himself killed. But from Gideon's life we can also learn that no matter how much good we do for God's kingdom, sin in our lives still produces powerful, damaging consequences.

(9:56-57) Jothham's Curse - Jotham's curse is found in 9:16-20.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Listen to Your Parents


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Judges with Chapter 9 and we see the account of Abimelech who was Gideon's son. Now with the passing of Gideon we see Abimelech wanting to go against his father wish of having no King (depending on the Lord to be their King) to Abimelech being a self proclaimed King of Israel. Abimelech's lust for power motivated him to kill 69 of his half brothers to achieve his disobedient plan which eventually led to his own death. In making application we see the results of sinning against God and his father Gideon. When lust is conceived it bringeth forth sin and when sin is conceived it bringeth forth death. If Abimelech had only listened to his parents he would have enjoyed the blessing of God instead it brought forth the Judgement of God and his death. I have seen this so many times in my life and the lives of others. The younger generation thinking the older has no clue on living to go in the wrong direction only to see them later in life saying "If I had only listened to my parents" How about you? Do you see the value and wisdom from your parents advise? Let us learn from our text today and the life of Abimelech to realize the wisdom in listening to our parents.


Judges 9

Judges 9

 1And 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,

 2Speak, 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.

 3And 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.

 4And 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.

 5And 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.

 6And 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.

 7And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you.

 8The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

 9But 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?

 10And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.

 11But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

 12Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.

 13And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

 14Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.

 15And 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.

 16Now 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:

 18And 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;)

 19If 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:

 20But 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.

 21And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

 22When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,

 23Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech:

 24That 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.

 25And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.

 26And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.

 27And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.

 28And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?

 29And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.

 30And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.

 31And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.

 32Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:

 33And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.

 34And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.

 35And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.

 36And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.

 37And Gaal spake again, and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.

 38Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.

 39And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.

 40And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.

 41And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.

 42And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.

 43And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.

 44And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.

 45And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

 46And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.

 47And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.

 48And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.

 49And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.

 50Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.

 51But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.

 52And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.

 53And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull.

 54Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A women slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.

 55And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

 56Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

 57And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.