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The Blue Letter Bible

Judges 9 :: New Living Translation (NLT)

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Abimelech Rules over Shechem
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:1 - One day Gideon’s[fn] son Abimelech went to Shechem to visit his uncles—his mother’s brothers. He said to them and to the rest of his mother’s family,
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:2 - “Ask the leading citizens of Shechem whether they want to be ruled by all seventy of Gideon’s sons or by one man. And remember that I am your own flesh and blood!”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:3 - So Abimelech’s uncles gave his message to all the citizens of Shechem on his behalf. And after listening to this proposal, the people of Shechem decided in favor of Abimelech because he was their relative.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:4 - They gave him seventy silver coins from the temple of Baal-berith, which he used to hire some reckless troublemakers who agreed to follow him.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:5 - He went to his father’s home at Ophrah, and there, on one stone, they killed all seventy of his half brothers, the sons of Gideon.[fn] But the youngest brother, Jotham, escaped and hid.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:6 - Then all the leading citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo called a meeting under the oak beside the pillar[fn] at Shechem and made Abimelech their king.
Jotham’s Parable
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:7 - When Jotham heard about this, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted,
“Listen to me, citizens of Shechem!
Listen to me if you want God to listen to you!
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:8 - Once upon a time the trees decided to choose a king.
First they said to the olive tree,
‘Be our king!’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:9 - But the olive tree refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing the olive oil
that blesses both God and people,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:10 - “Then they said to the fig tree,
‘You be our king!’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:11 - But the fig tree also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing my sweet fruit
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:12 - “Then they said to the grapevine,
‘You be our king!’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:13 - But the grapevine also refused, saying,
‘Should I quit producing the wine
that cheers both God and people,
just to wave back and forth over the trees?’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:14 - “Then all the trees finally turned to the thornbush and said,
‘Come, you be our king!’
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:15 - And the thornbush replied to the trees,
‘If you truly want to make me your king,
come and take shelter in my shade.
If not, let fire come out from me
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:16 - Jotham continued, “Now make sure you have acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelech your king, and that you have done right by Gideon and all of his descendants. Have you treated him with the honor he deserves for all he accomplished?
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:17 - For he fought for you and risked his life when he rescued you from the Midianites.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:18 - But today you have revolted against my father and his descendants, killing his seventy sons on one stone. And you have chosen his slave woman’s son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:19 - “If you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Gideon and his descendants today, then may you find joy in Abimelech, and may he find joy in you.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:20 - But if you have not acted in good faith, then may fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leading citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo; and may fire come out from the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo and devour Abimelech!”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:21 - Then Jotham escaped and lived in Beer because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.
Shechem Rebels against Abimelech
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:22 - After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years,
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:23 - God sent a spirit that stirred up trouble between Abimelech and the leading citizens of Shechem, and they revolted.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:24 - God was punishing Abimelech for murdering Gideon’s seventy sons, and the citizens of Shechem for supporting him in this treachery of murdering his brothers.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:25 - The citizens of Shechem set an ambush for Abimelech on the hilltops and robbed everyone who passed that way. But someone warned Abimelech about their plot.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:26 - One day Gaal son of Ebed moved to Shechem with his brothers and gained the confidence of the leading citizens of Shechem.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:27 - During the annual harvest festival at Shechem, held in the temple of the local god, the wine flowed freely, and everyone began cursing Abimelech.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:28 - “Who is Abimelech?” Gaal shouted. “He’s not a true son of Shechem,[fn] so why should we be his servants? He’s merely the son of Gideon, and this Zebul is merely his deputy. Serve the true sons of Hamor, the founder of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech?
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:29 - If I were in charge here, I would get rid of Abimelech. I would say[fn] to him, ‘Get some soldiers, and come out and fight!’”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:30 - But when Zebul, the leader of the city, heard what Gaal was saying, he was furious.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:31 - He sent messengers to Abimelech in Arumah,[fn] telling him, “Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to live in Shechem, and now they are inciting the city to rebel against you.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:32 - Come by night with an army and hide out in the fields.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:33 - In the morning, as soon as it is daylight, attack the city. When Gaal and those who are with him come out against you, you can do with them as you wish.”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:34 - So Abimelech and all his men went by night and split into four groups, stationing themselves around Shechem.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:35 - Gaal was standing at the city gates when Abimelech and his army came out of hiding.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:36 - When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, “Look, there are people coming down from the hilltops!”
Zebul replied, “It’s just the shadows on the hills that look like men.”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:37 - But again Gaal said, “No, people are coming down from the hills.[fn] And another group is coming down the road past the Diviners’ Oak.[fn]
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:38 - Then Zebul turned on him and asked, “Now where is that big mouth of yours? Wasn’t it you that said, ‘Who is Abimelech, and why should we be his servants?’ The men you mocked are right outside the city! Go out and fight them!”
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:39 - So Gaal led the leading citizens of Shechem into battle against Abimelech.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:40 - But Abimelech chased him, and many of Shechem’s men were wounded and fell along the road as they retreated to the city gate.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:41 - Abimelech returned to Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:42 - The next day the people of Shechem went out into the fields to battle. When Abimelech heard about it,
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:43 - he divided his men into three groups and set an ambush in the fields. When Abimelech saw the people coming out of the city, he and his men jumped up from their hiding places and attacked them.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:44 - Abimelech and his group stormed the city gate to keep the men of Shechem from getting back in, while Abimelech’s other two groups cut them down in the fields.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:45 - The battle went on all day before Abimelech finally captured the city. He killed the people, leveled the city, and scattered salt all over the ground.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:46 - When the leading citizens who lived in the tower of Shechem heard what had happened, they ran and hid in the temple of Baal-berith.[fn]
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:47 - Someone reported to Abimelech that the citizens had gathered in the temple,
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:48 - so he led his forces to Mount Zalmon. He took an ax and chopped some branches from a tree, then put them on his shoulder. “Quick, do as I have done!” he told his men.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:49 - 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.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:50 - Then Abimelech attacked the town of Thebez and captured it.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:51 - But there was a strong tower inside the town, and all the men and women—the entire population—fled to it. They barricaded themselves in and climbed up to the roof of the tower.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:52 - Abimelech followed them to attack the tower. But as he prepared to set fire to the entrance,
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:53 - a woman on the roof dropped a millstone that landed on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:54 - He quickly said to his young armor bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me! Don’t let it be said that a woman killed Abimelech!” So the young man ran him through with his sword, and he died.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:55 - When Abimelech’s men saw that he was dead, they disbanded and returned to their homes.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:56 - In this way, God punished Abimelech for the evil he had done against his father by murdering his seventy brothers.
Unchecked Copy BoxJdg 9:57 - God also punished the men of Shechem for all their evil. So the curse of Jotham son of Gideon was fulfilled.
NLT Footnotes
Hebrew Jerub-baal’s (see 6:32); also in 9:2, 24.
Hebrew Jerub-baal (see 6:32); also in 9:16, 19, 28, 57.
The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
Hebrew Who is Shechem?
As in Greek version; Hebrew reads And he said.
Or in secret; Hebrew reads in Tormah; compare 9:41.
Or the center of the land.
Hebrew Elon-meonenim.
Hebrew El-berith, another name for Baal-berith; compare 9:4.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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