1Abimelech was the son of Jerub‑Baal. He went to his mother's brothers in Shechem. He spoke to them and to all of the members of his mother's family group. He said,2“Speak to all of the citizens of Shechem. Tell them, ‘You can have all 70 of Jerub‑Baal's sons rule over you. Or you can have just one man rule over you. Which would you rather have?’ Remember, I'm your own flesh and blood.”3The brothers told all of that to the citizens of Shechem. Then the people decided to follow Abimelech. They said, “He's related to us.”4They gave him 28 ounces of silver. They had taken it from the temple of the god Baal‑Berith. Abimelech used it to hire some men. They were wild. They weren't good for anything. They became his followers.5Abimelech went to his father's home in Ophrah. There on a big rock he murdered his 70 brothers. All of them were the sons of Jerub‑Baal. But Jotham escaped by hiding. He was Jerub‑Baal's youngest son.6All of the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo came together. They gathered at the stone pillar that was beside the large tree in Shechem. They wanted to crown Abimelech as their king.7Jotham was told about it. So he climbed up on top of Mount Gerizim. He shouted down to them, “Citizens of Shechem! Listen to me! Then God will listen to you.8One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to an olive tree, ‘Be our king.’9“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my olive oil? It's used to honor gods and people alike. Should I give that up just to rule over the trees?’10“Next, the trees spoke to a fig tree. They said, ‘Come and be our king.’11“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit? It's so good and sweet. Should I give that up just to rule over the trees?’12“Then the trees spoke to a vine. They said, ‘Come and be our king.’13“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine? It cheers up gods and people alike. Should I give that up just to rule over the trees?’14“Finally, all of the trees spoke to a bush that had thorns. They said, ‘Come and be our king.’15“The bush spoke to the trees. It said, ‘Do you really want to anoint me as king over you? If you do, come and rest in my shade. But if you don't, I will destroy you! Fire will come out of me and burn up the cedar trees of Lebanon!’16“Did you act in an honest way when you made Abimelech your king? Did you really do the right thing? Have you been fair to Jerub‑Baal and his family? Have you given him the honor he's worthy of?17“Remember that my father fought for you. He put his life in danger for you. He saved you from the power of Midian.18But today you have turned against my father's family. You have murdered his 70 sons on a big rock. Abimelech is only the son of my father's female slave. But you have made him king over the citizens of Shechem. You have done that because he's related to you.19“Have you citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo acted in an honest way toward Jerub‑Baal? Have you done the right thing to his family today? If you have, may you be happy with Abimelech! And may he be happy with you!20But if you haven't, let fire come out from Abimelech and burn you up! And let fire come out from you and burn Abimelech up!”21Then Jotham ran away. He escaped to Beer. He lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.22Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years.23Then God sent an evil spirit to cause trouble between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem. They turned against Abimelech. They decided not to follow him anymore.24God made that happen because of what Abimelech had done to Jerub‑Baal's 70 sons. He had spilled their blood. God wanted to pay back their brother Abimelech for doing that. He also wanted to pay back the citizens of Shechem. They had helped Abimelech murder his brothers.25The citizens of Shechem opposed Abimelech. So they hid some men on top of the hills. They wanted them to attack and rob everyone who passed by. Abimelech was told about it.26Gaal and his relatives moved into Shechem. He was the son of Ebed. The citizens of Shechem put their trust in Gaal.27The people of Shechem went out into the fields. They gathered the grapes. They pressed the juice out of them by stomping on them. Then they held a feast in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they called down curses on Abimelech.28Then Gaal, the son of Ebed, spoke up. “Who is Abimelech?” he said. “And who is Shechem? Why should we be under Abimelech's rule? Isn't he Jerub‑Baal's son? Isn't Zebul his helper? It would be better to serve the men of Hamor. He was the father of Shechem. So why should we serve Abimelech?29I wish these people were under my command. Then I would get rid of him. I would say to him, ‘Call out your whole army!’ ”30Zebul was the governor of Shechem. He heard about what Gaal, the son of Ebed, had said. So he burned with anger.31Zebul sent messengers to Abimelech secretly. They said, “Gaal, the son of Ebed, has come to Shechem. His relatives have come with him. They are stirring up the city against you.32So come with your men during the night. Hide in the fields and wait.33In the morning at sunrise, attack the city. Gaal and his men will come out against you. Then do what you can.”34So Abimelech and all of his troops started out at night. They went into their hiding places near Shechem. Abimelech had separated them into four companies.35Gaal, the son of Ebed, had already gone out. He was standing at the entrance of the city gate. He had arrived there just as Abimelech and his troops came out of their hiding places.36Gaal saw them. He said to Zebul, “Look! People are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” Zebul replied, “You are wrong. Those aren't people. They are just the shadows of the mountains.”37But Gaal spoke up again. He said, “Look! People are coming down from the center of the land. Another company is coming from the direction of the fortune tellers’ tree.”38Then Zebul said to Gaal, “Where is your big talk now? You said, ‘Who is Abimelech? Why should we be under his rule?’ Aren't these the people you looked down on? Go out and fight against them!”39So Gaal led the citizens out of Shechem. They fought against Abimelech.40He chased Gaal from the field of battle. Many men were wounded as they ran away. Abimelech chased them all the way to the entrance of the city gate.41He stayed in Arumah. Zebul drove Gaal and his relatives out of Shechem.42The next day the people of Shechem went out to work in the fields. Abimelech was told about it.43So he gathered his men together. He separated them into three companies. Then he hid them in the fields and told them to wait. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he got up to attack them.44Abimelech and the men who were with him ran forward. They placed themselves at the entrance of the city gate. Then the other two companies rushed over to the people who were in the fields. There they struck them down.45Abimelech kept up his attack against the city all day long. He didn't stop until he had captured it. Then he killed its people. He destroyed the city. He scattered salt on it to make sure that nothing would be able to grow there.46The citizens who were in the tower of Shechem heard about what was happening. So they went to the safest place in the temple of the god El‑Berith.47Abimelech heard that they had gathered together there.48He and all of his men went up Mount Zalmon. He got an ax and cut off some branches. He carried them on his shoulders. He ordered the men who were with him to do the same thing. “Quick!” he said. “Do what you have seen me do!”49So all of the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the place where the people had gone for safety. Then they set the place on fire with the people inside. There were about 1,000 men and women in the tower of Shechem. All of them died.50Next, Abimelech went to Thebez. He surrounded it. Then he attacked it and captured it.51But inside the city there was a strong tower. All of the people in the city ran to it for safety. All of the men and women went into it. They locked themselves in. They climbed up on the roof of the tower.52Abimelech went to the tower and attacked it. He approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire.53But a woman dropped a large millstone on him. It broke his head open.54He quickly called out to the man who was carrying his armor. He said, “Pull out your sword and kill me. Then people can't say, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” So his servant stuck his sword through him. And Abimelech died.55When the people of Israel saw he was dead, they went home.56That's how God paid Abimelech back for the evil thing he had done to his father. He had murdered his 70 brothers.57God also made the men of Shechem pay for all of the evil things they had done. The curse of Jotham came down on them. He was the son of Jerub‑Baal.
English Standard Version
1Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, (Jud 8:31)2“Say in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” (Ge 29:14; Jud 8:30; Jud 9:1)3And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the leaders of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” (Jud 9:18)4And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. (Jud 8:33; Jud 9:46; Jud 11:3; 2Ch 13:7; Pr 12:11; Ac 17:5)5And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. (Jud 6:24; 2Ki 11:1)6And all the leaders of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem. (Jud 9:20; 2Sa 5:9)7When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. (De 11:29; De 27:12; Jos 8:33; Joh 4:20)8The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ (Jud 8:22; 2Ki 14:9)9But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’10And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’11But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’12And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’13But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ (Ps 104:15)14Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’15And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ (Nu 21:28; Jud 9:20; 1Ki 4:33; 2Ki 14:9; 2Ki 19:23; Ps 104:16; Isa 2:13; Isa 30:2; Isa 37:24; Eze 19:14; Da 4:12; Ho 14:7)16“Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— (Jud 6:32; Jud 8:35; Pr 12:14; Isa 3:11)17for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian,18and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— (Jud 8:31; Jud 9:3; Jud 9:5)19if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. (Isa 8:6)20But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” (Jud 9:15; Jud 9:56)21And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother. (Nu 21:16)
The Downfall of Abimelech
22Abimelech ruled over Israel three years.23And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, (1Sa 16:14; 1Sa 18:10; 1Sa 19:9; Isa 33:1)24that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. (Jud 9:56; 1Ki 2:32; Es 9:25; Ps 7:16; Mt 23:35)25And the leaders of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountaintops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way. And it was told to Abimelech.26And Gaal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his relatives, and the leaders of Shechem put confidence in him.27And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god and ate and drank and reviled Abimelech. (Jud 9:4; Jud 9:46)28And Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who are we of 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? (Ge 34:2; Ge 34:6; 1Sa 25:10)29Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’”30When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.31And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you.32Now therefore, go by night, you and the people who are with you, and set an ambush in the field.33Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city. And when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may do to them as your hand finds to do.” (Ec 9:10)34So Abimelech and all the men who were with him rose up by night and set an ambush against Shechem in four companies.35And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from the ambush.36And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!” And Zebul said to him, “You mistake the shadow of the mountains for men.” (Jud 9:7; Jud 9:25)37Gaal spoke again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.”38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them.” (Jud 9:28)39And Gaal went out at the head of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech.40And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him. And many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate.41And Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives, so that they could not dwell at Shechem.42On the following day, the people went out into the field, and Abimelech was told.43He took his people and divided them into three companies and set an ambush in the fields. And he looked and saw the people coming out of the city. So he rose against them and killed them.44Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed upon all who were in the field and killed them. (Jud 20:37)45And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt. (De 29:23; 2Ki 3:25)46When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith. (Jud 8:33; Jud 9:4; Jud 9:49)47Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together.48And Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an axe in his hand and cut down a bundle of brushwood and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do as I have done.” (Ps 68:14)49So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about 1,000 men and women. (Jud 9:46)50Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it.51But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower.52And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire.53And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. (2Sa 11:21)54Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (1Sa 31:4)55And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home.56Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. (Jud 9:24; Job 31:8; Ps 94:23; Pr 5:22)57And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. (Jud 9:20)