Judges 9:46-57 (Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part IV)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Judges 9:46-57
Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part IV

(Typed 29 January 2024) Every story we have read in the Bible, from creation through Gideon is history. These things have actually occurred in the world and later in the history of Israel. Further, these things point to real events that will happen in the future history of Israel.

And yet, there is a spiritual element involved as well. Therefore, there are times that the actual historical events and the spiritual applications will overlap. In the sermon today, you will see an example of this.

The explanation covers thirty-six verses. I don’t even attempt to explain every detail of them, lest we have a sermon four hours long. However, enough detail is provided to give you a snapshot of both the historical events and the spiritual applications that are anticipated as well.

I must say that there is speculation involved in several of the conclusions that are presented. For example, Daniel 11 is cited several times. Those references are based on assumptions concerning the structure of Daniel 11, meaning that not all of the verses are necessarily chronological as Daniel presents them.

And more, there is overlap between Daniel’s words, those of Jesus, Paul, and John in Revelation that must be inferred as to how things will play out in the end times.

Text Verse: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4

What is seen today is based on how Abimelech was typologically presented in the Judges 9:16-21 sermon, “…he anticipates the rejection of Christ. Ultimately, he can be identified with the person noted by Jesus.” To confirm that, John 5:43 was cited.

Like Christ, who is the embodiment of the law, the Antichrist is the ultimate expression of those who reject Christ. Each person who does is reflected in Abimelech. The coming of the Antichrist will be the final step in that ongoing rejection. John details that for us in 1 John 2:18-23 –

“Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

The Bible is clear, and the words of Scripture are all-inclusive. If you have rejected Jesus, you are of the devil. Of them, a person who denies the deity of Jesus is explicitly said to be an antichrist. Keep this in mind as we go through the verses today.

When you see Abimelech named, you can think of any such person. At the same time, you can specifically think of the coming Antichrist. There is overlap. But this spirit of the Antichrist will someday be removed from the world.

Remember that I have speculated at times on various things. So look to the overall picture and forgive anything that I have failed to properly square up with what God intends to reveal.

Marvelous things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. God Repaid the Wickedness of Abimelech (verses 46-57)

46 Now when all the men of the tower of Shechem had heard that,

vayishmu kal baale migdal sh’khem – “And heard, all masters Tower Shechem.” The words are based on the events described in the previous verses. Abimelech had come against Shechem. Gaal had gone out to fight against them and was routed. The next day Abimelech laid in wait against the city, and as the people went out of it, Abimelech rose against them and attacked.

In verse 25, it said that Abimelech fought against the city all that day, took it, and killed the people in it. After that, he demolished it and sowed the city with salt. Now, all of the men of the tower have heard about these events.

The location and timing of this is uncertain, but the text says nothing like “the next day.” In fact, this is probably the same day as verses 42-45. Because of this, what is described here may be a different location, but near Shechem, or what is being said is in Shechem and the events are an explanatory part of what occurred during the destruction noted in those verses.

Either way, these people have heard about the attack, and instead of fighting…

46 (cont’) they entered the stronghold of the temple of the god Berith.

vayavou el ts’riakh beith el b’rith – “and entered into citadel, house god Berith.” Here is a new and very difficult word, ts’riakh, translated as citadel. It is from tsarakh, to cry or roar. Thus, Strong’s see the connection between the two words as clearness of vision. As such, he takes this as a high place, a citadel.

Others take it as an underground chamber or some other type of stronghold. This word is only found here three times and once more in 1 Samuel 13:6 –

“When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes [ts’riakh], and in pits.”

With this verse, the translations vary greatly and the context doesn’t help a great deal. Suffice it to say that it is a secure place big enough for a great number of people. Thus, citadel seems to be logical. In this case, it is in the citadel of god Berith, or god of the covenant.

This is probably the same house (temple) as that of Baal-Berith seen in Judges 9:4. Some scholars disagree, but it seems likely. Either way, these people have retreated into some secure location associated with the god Berith, hoping to be safe from the army of Abimelech.

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

vayugad la’avimelekh ki hiqabtsu kal baale migdal sh’khem – “And declared to Abimelech that gathered all masters tower Shechem.” The term masters, rather than men, is used here. Its last use was in verse 9:39 when the masters of Shechem went out with Gaal against Abimelech.

Of those, some may have retreated during the battle while some may not have gone out with Gaal. The point is that these are a part of the original group who had allied with Abimelech starting in verse 2 and who Jotham had cursed in his parable. That ended with the words –

“and if not — fire cometh out from Abimelech and devoureth the masters of Shechem and the house of Millo, and fire cometh out from the masters of Shechem and from the house of Millo, and devoureth Abimelech.” Judges 9:20 (YLT)

Thus, the words of Jotham are being fulfilled in this account. These masters are holed up in the citadel and Abimelech is made aware of it…

48 Then Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him.

va’yaal avimelekh har tsalmon hu v’khal ha’am asher ito – “And ascended, Abimelech, Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who with him.” Here is a new location, har tsalmon, or Mount Zalmon. As seen, the har, or mount, is a lot of something gathered. It is synonymous with a large but centralized group of people.

Zalmon is derived from tselem, image. The on (vavnun) at the end either localizes or personifies the word. Thus, it means Place of the Image or Man of the Image. Abarim quaintly translates it as Image Guy. Others take the name from tsel, shade, and translate the name as Shady, seeing the mountain as one that has trees and thus appears dark or shady.

48 (con’t) And Abimelech took an ax in his hand

vayiqakh avimelekh eth ha’qardumoth b’yado – “And took Abimelech the axes in his hand.” It is a new word, qardom, translated as axe. It is possibly from the verb qadam, meaning to meet (in the sense of striking upon). That is a form of qedem, meaning both east and aforetime.

The unusual use of the plural probably means that the axe in his hand is representative of all the axes to be used. He took the axe(s)…

48 (con’t) and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it and laid it on his shoulder;

vayikroth sokath etsim vayisaeha vayasem al shikhmo – “and cut branch trees, and lifted upon his shoulder.” Again, another new word found only in this verse and the next one is used, sok. It is from suk a fence or hedge. Thus, it is a branch, as something interleaved.

After cutting off his branch, he laid it on his shoulder. The word karath, means to cut off or down. It is the same word used in the cutting of a covenant. Once this was done…

48 (con’t) then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done.

vayomer el ha’am asher imo mah r’ithem asiti makharu asu kamoni – “and said unto the people who with him, ‘What seen done, hurry – do as I.’” The men with him were to likewise get a branch and bring it along. Abimelech has a plan…

49 So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech,

Vayikhr’thu gam kal ha’am ish sokhoh vayelkhu akhare avimelekh – “And cut, also, all the people, man his branch. And went after Abimelech.” In response to the word of Abimelech, those with him followed suit. From there they…

49 (con’t) put them against the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire above them,

vayasimu al hatsriah vayatsithu alehem eth hatsriah ba’esh – “and set upon the citadel, and kindled upon them the citadel in the fire.” The word al signifies above, over, or upon. Some translate this as against, over, on, on top of, etc. If it is over or on, the citadel would be a place that was low, like a vault, and the fire is set over them, suffocating them.

Or, as fire burns upward, it could be a large structure in which the people gathered, the branches being laid upon (against) it and then lit, the people inside would be trapped as the flames engulfed the structure. Whichever is correct, the result says…

49 (con’t) so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.

vayamuthu gam kal anshe migdal sh’khem k’eleph ish v’ishah – “And died also all men Tower Shechem according to one thousand man and woman.” Here, the word anshe, men, not baale, masters, is used. This, then, is inclusive of the masters and the women.

It is the fulfillment of the words of Jotham against these people where fire came from Abimelech and devoured the masters of Shechem.

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

vayelekh avimelekh el tevets vayikhan b’tevets vayikdah – “And went, Abimelech, unto Thebez, and camped in Thebez, and seized her.” The name is Tevets. It is either from yavats, to be bright, or buts, fine white linen. That comes from buts, to bleach, and thus whiteness. Therefore, it means Brightness, White Linen, Whiteness, or something akin to this.

Abimelech went to this location, camped there, and seized it. The reason for this is seen in the next verse. Despite seizing the city, however…

51 But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—

The NKJV has changed the order and wording so that the main point is lost: u-migdal oz hayah b’thok ha’ir vayanusu shamah kal ha’anashim v’hanashim v’khol baale ha’ir – “And tower, strong, was in midst the city. And fled there all the men and the women and all masters the city.”

There are three categories: the men, the women, and the masters. This is the last use of baale in the chapter. This explains why Abimelech has come against Thebez. They are those who had aligned with him, but then enmity arose between the two parties. Eventually they had submitted to Gaal. Now Abimelech has come to war against them. Of these men, it next says they…

51 (con’t) fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower.

vayisgru baadam vayaalu al gag ha’migdal – “And shut behind them. And ascended upon roof the tower.” The people were in an elevated defensive position. This would make it vulnerable to a long siege, but if an attack took place, depending on their weapons, they could have a chance of prevailing over the attackers. Abimelech was not prepared for a siege. Therefore…

52 So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire.

vayavo avimelekh ad ha’migdal vayilakhem bo vayigash ad petakh ha’migdal l’sharpho ba’esh – “And came, Abimelech, unto the tower, and fought against it. And drew unto door the tower to burn it in the fire.” In his attack, clearly the best option would be to burn the door.

The rest of the tower would have been stone and would take a long time to break through. Therefore, to burn through the door would be the quickest and best option. Setting archers around the tower to distract those on top, men could run in, set wood in a pile, and run out. When a large enough pile was ready, one could rush forward with a torch, toss it in, and run away.

It appears Abimelech wanted to be the one to light the pile…

53 But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone

vatashlekh ishah akhath pelakh rekhev – “And cast, woman one, piece rider.” The word is shalakh. The lady cast the stone outwards toward where Abimelech was applying fire to the door. As for the stone, it says “piece rider.” The first word is new, pelakh, a slice or piece, from the verb palakh, to split or slice.

The second word is rekhev. It signifies a vehicle, like a chariot. In this case, it is a rider, the upper millstone that rides upon the lower millstone and which then crushes the grain to make bread. Taking this piece of a rider, the lady has something else to crush…

53 (con’t) on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.

al rosh avimelekh vatarits eth gulgalto – “upon head Abimelech and crushed his skull.” Like a Satsuma plum under the foot of an elephant, Abimelech’s skull didn’t stand a chance. It was crushed by the weight and force of the stone. The word gulgoleth, skull, is where the name Golgotha, Place of the Skull, is derived from. With his skull crushed, but with enough life and sense left in him to talk…

54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer,

vayiqra m’herah el ha’naar nose kelav – “And called, quickly, unto the youth, lifter his articles.” The word armorbearer is a paraphrase, even if correct. A soldier would have someone young and not skilled in battle carry his things and do menial jobs for him. In a battle, this person would often be the one to finish off anyone his master had wounded in battle, following him and using a sword or spear for the task.

54 (con’t) and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died.

vayomer lo sh’loph kharbkha u-motheni pen yomru li ishah haragath’hu vayidq’rehu naaro vayamoth – “and said to him, ‘Draw your sword and kill me, lest saying of me, “Woman killed him.’” And pierced him, his young man, and dies.”

The embarrassment of such a matter was so great that it encompasses the final words of Abimelech. Instead of spurring his men on to victory, calling out to the Lord, or some other worthy declaration, he is concerned about how people would view him if he was killed by a woman.

However, the sentiment is not unlike the satisfaction Deborah felt when Jael killed Sisera. Sisera, the great commander and foe of Israel was slain by a tent woman. As for Abimelech, exactly what he didn’t want is what transpired. Generations later, at the time of David, the record of his death is recounted in 2 Samuel 11:18-21–

“Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, 19 and charged the messenger, saying, ‘When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, 20 if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: “Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”’’”

Another connection to his death is made in the demise of Saul, the first person truly considered king over Israel when he, being wounded in battle, asked his own armorbearer to thrust him through. Unfortunately, the boy was too afraid and Saul had to dispatch himself to Sheol.

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

vayiru ish Yisrael ki meth avimelekh vayelkhu ish limqomo – “And saw men Israel that dead Abimelech, and went man to his place.” With the leader dead, the impetus to continue the battle was ended. There would be no point in taking the tower as there was nothing left of their hopes in serving under Abimelech as king. Thus, they simply abandoned the fight and went home.

56 Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers.

vayeshev elohim eth raath avimelekh asher asah l’abiv l’harog eth shivim ekhav – “And returned, God, evil Abimelech which did to his father, to kill seventy his brothers.” The expression that one’s evil is returned upon his head is seen in the next verse. It is also found in 1 Samuel 25 where the evil of Nabal is said to be returned upon his head.

However, that is left out here because the casting of the stone on Abimelech’s head was not evil. It was positive retribution. The fact that he died is sufficient to show that the evil was returned to him. Ellicott, however, identifies the irony expressed in these words, saying, “The murderer of his brothers ‘on one stone’ is slain by a stone flung on his head.”

God, the overseer of the stream of time and existence, determined that there should be recompense for what Abimelech had done. Thus, the words of prophecy were given to Jotham and they were fulfilled accordingly in the demise of Abimelech. Likewise…

57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads,

v’eth kal raath anshe sh’khem heshiv elohim b’rosham – “And all evil, men Shechem, returned God in their heads.” Here, the idiom is fully expressed. The men of Shechem committed evil and God returned evil on their heads for what they had done in supporting the killing of the house of Jerubbaal…

*57 (fin) and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

vatavo alehem qilalath yotham ben yerubaal – “and came upon them curse Jotham, son Jerubbaal.” This confirms that the words of Jotham were words of prophecy, given to proclaim what the outcome of their wickedness would be. Just as it was proclaimed, so it came to pass.

The meanings of the names are: Shechem, (Having a Sense of) Responsibility. Jotham, Yehovah is Upright. Jerubbaal, Let Baal Strive. As for the name Jerubbaal, rather than Gideon, it alone is mentioned in this chapter nine times. Nine, according to Bullinger, nine is the number of finality and judgment.

Forces are at work in this fallen world
And they will continue until the end
Eventually, God’s plan will be fully unfurled
And the human heart will no longer need to mend

Until that day, Satan is hard at work
Infecting minds and troubling souls
But there will be an end to that insufferable jerk
When have been completed all redemption’s goals

Don’t be caught up in the strong delusion
Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus before it’s too late
Someday, maybe soon, there will be complete confusion
Get right with the Lord and avoid a terrible fate

II. Explaining the Typology

Chapter 9 of Judges is long and filled with a load of detail. The first half, verses 1-21, were previously explained as the final seven years of the time of the tribulation. Jotham pronounced his parable and curse over the people and ran away, dwelling at Beer.

At the time designated by God, the tribulation period, the final seven years of Daniel’s seventy sevens, will be ushered in. As noted in the explanation of the first half of the chapter, Abimelech pictures those who reject Christ, but that is ultimately fulfilled in the Antichrist.

The purpose of the seventy sevens was stated in Daniel 9:24 –

“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.”

As Christ accomplished those things for Israel, their rejection of Him meant exile. They are like Abimelech, having given themselves their own name, “My Father is King.” If the Lord isn’t their father, that means – by default – that the devil is. Jesus said this to them in John 8:44, “You are of your father, the devil.”

It is the reason why Jesus said this to the church in Revelation –

“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 2:9

He repeats this idea in Revelation 3:9. Those Jews who reject Christ are not true Jews. Paul conveys that same thought in Romans 2. They do not belong to Christ, and therefore, they do not belong to God. The Antichrist is the ultimate fulfillment of this attitude. In his destruction, this apostate state among the Jews will end.

The rejection of God’s plan is emblematic of the killing of the seventy sons of Jerubbaal. Only the youngest, Jotham, was left. He represents the final seven years of the plan. But even during the tribulation, this rejection will continue.

Abimelech was “kinged” in Shechem. However, verse 22 began with, “And wrestled, Abimelech, over Israel three years.” Keil defined this period as a form of “tyrannical despotism,” something that seems likely under the Antichrist.

This three-year period could point to the midpoint of the tribulation period as three and one half is more than three years, but it probably just points to the meaning of the number three, Divine Perfection. There is a time when God’s plans will meet the perfect time for completion.

At that time, God will send an evil spirit to cause the final events of the tribulation period to come about. The Antichrist will do the things foretold by Jesus and Paul and the people will realize he is not their Messiah at all.

The purpose of this was stated in verse 24, “To go violence seventy sons, Jerubbaal.” In other words, the purpose of the seventy sevens was obliterated in the selection of the Antichrist. Therefore, he must be removed for the final matter of reconciliation to be settled.

But this goes beyond the ending of the Antichrist. Jotham’s prophecy noted that the ending of those who allied with him was to come upon them as well. That was stated again in verse 24. This period extends beyond just Jews, though. The treaty of the Antichrist deals with Israel and the nations.

Hence, verse 25 noted the ambush on the tops of the mountains. As a mountain is synonymous with a large but centralized group of people, being plural it means that various groups of people are being referred to, as one would expect in the end times battles.

In verse 26, Gaal, the son of Ebed was introduced. Gaal means Loathing, Son of Slave. His name seems to be derived from the account. He then typifies the spirit of ill-will sent between Abimelech and the masters of Shechem.

He represents the state of loathing that arises in those who remained under the law (Slave) and their supposed Messiah. As I said in that verse, “They have rejected Abimelech and have now aligned with Gaal.”

They know this guy is not their Messiah, and they see that the temple has not brought about their salvation. Hence, the curious words of verse 28 said –

“Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer?”

Gaal, this state of loathing, notes that the Antichrist is nobody, that Shechem, (Having a Sense of) Responsibility (living by the law), is nothing, and Habitation (the temple) is its overseer. The Jews completely abandon these things. Abimelech is identified as a son, even if illegitimate, with Jerubbaal (Let Baal Strive).

Not realizing that Jesus has already prevailed, these Jews reject the entire plan God has set forth for their restoration as detailed in Daniel. Instead, Gaal said, “Serve men Hamor, father Shechem! And why we serve him – we?”

In this, he uses the word anshe, men, instead of baale, masters. As seen in previous sermons, Hamor, Red One, pictures Adam, the man made from the red soil of the earth, which the name Adam implies. Adam (ruddy) comes from adom, to be red.

What is being said is that these end-times Jews have rejected the Lord Jesus, they now reject the thought of the temple and the law saving them, and so they have returned to man as their god. Man must save himself, period. No law, no Savior, etc.

Man is his own beginning, god, and end purpose. It is the inevitable state man faces without understanding God and what He has done in Christ.

Next, Zebul, Habitation, meaning the temple and its rites, notifies Abimelech of the people’s rejection of him, even “adversarying” the city against him. Looking ahead at their thoughts, one can see what is on their minds, “This guy is not our Messiah! We reject the entire notion of what he stands for and everything associated with him, including this temple.”

Gaal (Loathing), the spirit of ill-will has risen up to fulfill the parable and curse of Jotham. Without going through every detail, what is recorded of the battle is given to show this. Ultimately, what it says in Daniel 11:41 is what that is pointing to –

“He will also invade the beautiful land, and many will fall…”

Despite innumerable translations botching that verse, it doesn’t say “many countries.” It is simply speaking of the people in the land. The evil spirit between the coming Antichrist and the people who once followed him will be for their doom.

In verse 37, it mentioned the Soothsayers’ Oak. The only reason I can think of why this is mentioned is because within Israel, even today, there are still people who practice witchcraft, divination, and so forth.

The temple will be set aside for those who want to go that route, but Israel, being Israel, will allow whatever people want to do to continue to flourish, just as they always have. Very rarely in their history is it noted that good kings arose and removed other gods, divination, and other such things from their land.

At this time, however, the great insurrection against the Antichrist will be quashed. Gaal (Loathing) and his brothers will be cast out. Also, it said Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, High, Elevated, or Exalted. This may refer to what it says in Daniel 11 –

“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt [rum] and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” Daniel 11:36

Paul also refers to this in 2 Thessalonians 2. The final verses about Shechem being destroyed and the city being sowed with salt seems to be referring to the final ending of the sacrifices and offerings of the temple as detailed in Daniel 9:27.

Despite that accomplishment by Abimelech, the narrative continued with those who gathered together in the tower of Shechem who still needed to be dealt with. In order to destroy them, it says he went up to Mount Zalmon.

As noted, Zalmon comes from tselem, image. Abarim defined it as Image Guy. That coincides with what it says in Revelation 13 –

“He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” Revelation 13:15

Mount Zalmon refers to those people who have aligned with the Antichrist. In taking “axes in his hand,” coming from a word, qadam, associated with aforetime (qedem), it appears to be telling us that the Antichrist will acknowledge a god from times past. If so, that is explained in Daniel 11:39 –

“Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge.”

The final battle mentioned is that of Thebez or Brightness. It is where Abimelech finally meets his end. Paul refers to the end of the Antichrist in 2 Thessalonians 2 –

“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8

Understanding that the Antichrist is simply the embodiment of the rejection of Christ that has existed since His coming, saying that Abimelech is killed is saying that all rejection of Christ will end at that time. The actual demise of the Antichrist is that he will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire.

The ignoble way that Abimelech was ended, meaning by the hand of a woman with a piece of a millstone, is a way of showing how “rejection of the gospel” will die an ignoble death.

Golgotha, the place of the skull, is where his defeat lies. However, the actual end of Abimelech came with a sword. The law itself is what condemns and brings an end to those who reject Christ. Jesus alone fulfilled it, and He did so at the place of the skull.

Only through coming to Him can such a fate be avoided for the people of the world. This is the lesson of Abimelech. A rejection of what Christ has done is a rejection of who He is. When we share the gospel, it includes the words “Christ died for our sins.”

It is by law that we have the knowledge of sin. It is in the breaking of law that we become sinners. John tells us that if we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and His word is not in us.

Let us accept the gospel, acknowledge that God is truthful and that we have sinned. In this, we can then receive His mercy by believing that Jesus has paid our sin debt. This is what God asks of you today.

Closing Verse: “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.” Daniel 11:45

Next Week: Judges 10:1-5 Hola! No need to fear, so this sermon will tell… (Tola and Jair, Judges of Israel) (31st Judges sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part IV

Now when all the men
Of the tower of Shechem had heard that, thinking it was neat
They entered the stronghold
Of the temple of the god Berith

And it was told Abimelech
That all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together
Then Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon
He and all the people who were with him (what do you
———-suppose was the weather?)

And Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down
———-a bough from the trees
And took it and laid it on his shoulder, probably the right one
Then he said to the people who were with him
“What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done

So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough
And followed Abimelech, put them against the stronghold
And set the stronghold on fire above them
So that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about
———-a thousand men and women we are told

Then Abimelech went to Thebez, the guy just wouldn’t quit
And he encamped against Thebez and took it

But there was a strong tower in the city
And all the men and women—all the people of the city
Fled there and shut themselves in
Then they went up to the top of the tower, maybe holding
———-a planning committee

So Abimelech came as far as the tower
And fought against it, even though it was higher
And he drew near the door of the tower
To burn it with fire

But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone, aiming
———-for the cull
On Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull

Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer
And said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me
———-my reputation would be fried!
Lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him’
So his young man thrust him through, and he died

And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead
They departed, every man to his place, according to their druthers
Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech
Which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers

And all the evil of the men of Shechem
God returned on their own heads, leading to their fall
And on them came the curse
Of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

46 Now when all the men of the tower of Shechem had heard that, they entered the stronghold of the temple of the god Berith. 47 And it was told Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 Then Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it and laid it on his shoulder; then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done.” 49 So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech, put them against the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire above them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he encamped against Thebez and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower. 52 So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place.

56 Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 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.

 

 

 

 

30 – Judges 9:22-45 (Abimelech, King of Shechem – Part 3) – Podcast Audio

This sermon continues the Abimelech sermon. It is packed full of information waiting to be expalined in the final Abimelech sermon. We hope you will really enjoy this one!

(Click Here) to see video on Rumble.

The CG Prophecy Report (7 April 2024) – Never Apologize to These People

There are some things you should never apologize for. One is your faith in the Lord. If someone attacks you because of your moral stand that is based on your faith, your apology will mean nothing to them when you give it. Find out about that, and much more, on today’s report.

(Click Here) to see video on Rumble.

Judges 9:22-45 (Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part III)

Judges 9:22-45
Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part III

(Typed 22 January 2024) In our verses today, Charles Ellicott comments on the change of verbiage in verse 22 from earlier verses, saying, “Had reigned.—The verb is here sûr, not malak, as in Judges 9:6; but whether the change of word is meant to be significant we cannot say.”

The change in the verb is significant and meaningful. I was surprised to read that Ellicott seems unsure because he often argues over the morphology of individual words, noting the significance of various changes in them.

Because God is the author of Scripture, every single detail of it has meaning. This includes things we might not normally look at, such as how many times things are mentioned, variant spellings, and so forth. There is always some hidden treat that we can discover if we look closely enough and contemplate what is being presented.

There is also a point where we must move on and continue our journey through Scripture. As for the various words that are used and if they are relevant, Solomon gives us a thought to consider –

Text Verse: “Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Do not add to His words,
Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” Proverbs 30:5, 6

The word translated as pure is tsaraph. It means to smelt, refine, and test. The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, has given us a word that indicates His word is as if it has gone through the refiner’s fire and is thus pure.

It is exquisitely placed before us as the most precious jewel, completely unblemished and perfectly sculpted for us to contemplate. The finest gems are inlaid in the most precious metals that have been refined to absolute purity.

Consider this as you read the word. What you are reading is communication from the absolutely perfect Creator to us. Despite it being transmitted through fallible man, God has cared for His word sufficiently to ensure that what we have is just what we need.

We have more verses to get through than usual today. Many of them are not at all complicated. The author simply provides the needed background in the story so that we can see where the narrative trekked to reach the conclusion.

For today, please just enjoy the verses and don’t get overwhelmed with all the info. This is the word of God and we should revel in it as the verses unfold. For sure, He will be pleased with us when we are pleased with what He has given to us.

Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Who Is Abimelech and Who Is Shechem? (verses 22-29)

The previous passage detailed Abimelech’s plot to reign as king over the people. He convinced them to reject the seventy sons of Jerubbaal and anoint him king. The people agreed, had the seventy sons killed, and made Abimelech king.

From there, Jotham gave his parable of the trees and what would come upon the people because of what they had done. He ended the parable with a question as to the propriety of their actions. If they were acceptable and good, then that is one thing –

“But if not, let fire come from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem and Beth Millo; and let fire come from the men of Shechem and from Beth Millo and devour Abimelech!” Judges 9:20

Jotham then ran away and fled, going to Beer to dwell, away from the face of Abimelech. The narrative next turns to the time of Abimelech’s rule…

22 After Abimelech had reigned

vayasar avimelekh – “And wrestles, Abimelech.” Here is a word found only in this verse and in Hosea 12:4, sur. It comes from a primitive root meaning vanquish. By implication, it signifies to rule. Thus, causatively, it means to crown. Hence, it means “to make princes.”

It is connected with the word sarah, to persist, exert power, etc. Strong’s adds in the thought, “have power (as a prince).” That word is only found twice in Scripture as well. The first is in Genesis 32:28 –

And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled [sarah] with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

The second use of both of these words is found in Hosea 12 –

“The Lord also brings a charge against Judah,
And will punish Jacob according to his ways;
According to his deeds He will recompense him.
He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled [sarah] with God.
Yes, he struggled [sur] with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him.
He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us—
That is, the Lord God of hosts.
The Lord is His memorable name.” Hosea 12:2-5

Based on the meaning of this word, some define the name Israel as Prince of God. However, the context of Genesis 32 is clear. It is based on the thought of struggling with God. Therefore, it means He Strives with God.

This can be striving with God, for God, or it can be striving with God, against God. Either way, Israel strives with God. In the case of Abimelech (My Father is King), he is wrestling with the people and he is striving against God. I translated it as wrestles to separate his time from that of a king or a military leader. At this time, it is said…

22 (con’t) over Israel three years,

al Yisrael shalosh shanim – “over Israel three years.” Despite the localized nature of Abimelech’s reign in the area of Shechem, the text clearly identifies Abimelech as wrestling over Israel. Thus, that is the intent to be drawn, nothing less.

The unusual word used to define this period seems to almost indicate a form of “tyrannical despotism” (Keil). He was kinged by Shechem in verse 9:6. However, his time over Israel is neither a reign (malakh) as a king nor rule (mashal) as a military leader. Rather, it is as one who struggles with the people.

As for the number three, Bullinger says it signifies Divine Perfection. Further, he says, “…the number three points us to what is real, essential, perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine.” It was after these three years of his wrestling over Israel that…

23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem;

vayishlakh elohim ruakh raah ben avimelekh u-ben baale sh’khem– “And sends, elohim, spirit evil between Abimelech and between masters Shechem.” There is no contentment or harmony between them. God uses this to cause this evil spirit to arise between them.

These words are used to describe the actions found in the rest of the chapter. They are an initial summary which will be carefully fleshed out, revealing how Israel will cast off this unholy rule and explaining the demise of Abimelech.

As previously seen, the name Shechem means (Having a Sense of) Responsibility. Also, note that the term baale, masters, is used in this passage. It is as if the men are being identified as being aligned with baal in contrast to the house of Jerubbaal. As for the evil spirit, it was sent…

23 (con’t) and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

vayivg’du baale sh’khem ba’avimelekh – “And deals covertly masters Shechem in Abimelech.” Though nobody translates it as I have, the word is bagad. It comes from a primitive root meaning to cover. Therefore, it signifies to deal deceitfully, treacherously, etc.

As such, it gives the sense of acting covertly. In this, one can think of CIA covert ops overthrowing a leader to attain their goals. Thus are the men of Shechem dealing with Abimelech. This was so…

24 that the crime done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be settled

Rather, the words are short and abrupt: la’vo khamas shivim b’ne yerubaal – “To go violence seventy sons, Jerubbaal.” The word bo means to come in or out, to come, to go in or out, or to go. In this case, it is probably signifying to go out.

Violence had been done against the sons of Jerubbaal and it needed to be expunged from Israel. This is the process that will accomplish just that, according to the evil spirit sent from elohim. Jerubbaal means Let Baal Strive.

As a side note to the matter, the word khamas is used here. It is the Hebrew word closely associated with the Arabic name used concerning the miscreants in Gaza, Hamas. In Arabic, it signifies enthusiasm, but in Hebrew it means violence. The Hebrew perfectly describes them in our modern world. As for this process from elohim, its purpose continues, saying…

24 (con’t) and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them,

v’damam la’sum al avimelekh akhikhem asher harag otham – “and their blood to set upon Abimelech who killed them.” This is the stated purpose of the evil spirit from elohim. First, it is to rightfully avenge what had happened to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal.

They were given as sons to Jerubbaal by the Lord, and yet Abimelech had killed them all in order to reign in Israel. This could not be allowed to stand. And more, because Abimelech was supported by the men of Shechem, the purpose extends to those who supported what he had done…

24 (con’t) and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his brothers.

The words are more expressive: v’al baale sh’khem asher hizqu eth yadav la’harog eth ekhav – “and upon masters Shechem who strengthened his hand to killing his brothers.” It wasn’t just that they aided him through verbal approval. Rather, they financially supported him, throwing their allegiance behind what he would do, thus strengthening his hand.

Of this process by which elohim sent an evil spirit between them, Keil says, “‘An evil spirit’ is not merely ‘an evil disposition,’ but an evil demon, which produced discord and strife.” There is no reason to assume this. Instead, John Lange says, “for the undeviating law by which sin punishes itself, is grounded in the very nature of the Deity.”

This seems far more likely. Wickedness tends to produce its own destruction. Because Abimelech was a wicked man with wicked intentions, and because those who strengthened his hand did so with evil intent, there was sure to be no harmony between them.

The pattern has repeated itself throughout human history. Because treachery was the basis of their actions, the general rule of self-implosion was almost inevitable. Therefore…

25 And the men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains,

vayasimu lo baale sh’khem m’arvim al rashe he’harim – “And sets to him, masters Shechem, ambushing upon tops the mountains.” This begins the explanation of how the evil spirit arose between Abimelech and the people. There is a lack of peace within the land.

As for the words “to him,” although this could mean they were after Abimelech personally, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that. Rather it could signify ambushes against his authority. He is disadvantaged by the events that occur.

John Lange takes it as meaning that their ambushes are intended to make the people think it is Abimelech ordering the crimes. This would be an explanation of the covert ops mentioned in verse 23, being an attempt to make him look even worse than he is. Whichever way, this is seen in the next words…

25 (con’t) and they robbed all who passed by them along that way;

Rather: vayigzlu eth kal asher yeavor alehem ba’derekh – “And seizes all passing upon them in the way.” The word is gazal, to tear away, seize, rob, etc. It comes from a primitive root signifying to pluck off. As such, it may mean rob, but it also may mean to seize a person by force, which is how the Peshitta translates it.

In Judges 21, it will be used to describe the seizing of young maidens who are carried away to be the brides of the remnant of Benjamin. Whether the people are robbed or seized as plunder, it is something that would affect the reign of Abimelech, hence…

25 (con’t) and it was told Abimelech.

vayugad la’avimelekh – “And declares to Abimelech.” The word nagad means to make conspicuous. If he is a king, good or bad, he couldn’t stand by and have his people robbed, thus depriving him of money he could tax. And he couldn’t have his people being seized, thus depriving him of his subjects. One can see the play on words from verse 23 and this verse –

“And dealt covertly [bagad] masters Shechem in Abimelech.”
“And declared [nagad] to Abimelech.”

26 Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem;

va’yavo gaal ben eved v’ekhav vayaavru biskhem – “And goes, Gaal son Ebed and his brothers, and crosses over in Shechem.” Without any prior introduction, Gaal, son of Ebed, appears in the narrative.

The name is derived from the noun gaal, to loathe or abhor. Thus, it means Loathing, Abhorrence, etc. Ebed means Slave or Servant. Not much can be deduced about him and it is unknown from the text if he is an Israelite or a Canaanite.

This person is said to have crossed over in Shechem. The word might imply that he was on the other side of the Jordan, but not necessarily. It can mean to pass through, pass by, etc. He was somewhere and came through Shechem…

26 (con’t) and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.

vayivtkhu bo baale sh’khem – “and trusts in him masters Shechem.” Those who had at first put their hand in with Abimelech have now put their trust in Gaal. Therefore…

27 So they went out into the fields, and gathered grapes from their vineyards and trod them, and made merry.

Both sentences of the verse are filled with imperfect verbs: vayetsu ha’sadeh vayivtsru eth karmehem vayidr’ku vayaasu hilulim – “And goes out the field, and clips their vineyards, and treads, and makes praises.” Here is the second and last use of hillul, praises, in Scripture. The first use was –

“And in the year, the fourth, shall be all his fruit holy, praises to Yehovah” Leviticus 19:24 (CG).

The idea in Leviticus is that the fruit would be offered as praises to Yehovah. Likewise, these men who are now aligned with Gaal have clipped their vines, brought in the fruit to the winepress, trodden it, and are using it to offer praises.

They have rejected Abimelech and have aligned with Gaal. The praises are either to him directly, or to their god in praise of granting them Gaal as their leader. If the latter, that would be seen in the next words…

27 (con’t) And they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech.

vayavou beith elohehem vayokhlu vayishtu vayqalu eth avimelekh – “and goes in house their god, and eats, and drinks, and trivializes Abimelech.” The word qalal comes from a primitive root signifying to make light. Thus, they have trivialized Abimelech, making him small in their eyes.

Whoever is the object of their praise, be it Gaal directly or Baal-Berith who has provided the new leadership, they have traded any praises of Abimelech for reviling. This is explained in the next words…

28 Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech,

vayomer gaal ben eved mi avimelekh – “And says, Gaal son Ebed, ‘Who Abimelech?’” The words are stated contemptuously as if Abimelech was a nobody. They are not unlike the words of Nabal concerning David –

“Then Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, ‘Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants nowadays who break away each one from his master. 11 Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from?’” 1 Samuel 25:10, 11

28 (con’t) and who is Shechem, that we should serve him?

u-mi sh’khem ki naavdenu – “And who Shechem, that we serve him?” The words are curious, no doubt. Some take it to mean that Shechem is being used synonymously for Abimelech’s rule. But a who is a person, not a thing. The answer appears to be found in the next clauses…

28 (con’t) Is he not the son of Jerubbaal,

halo ben yerubaal – “Not son Jerubbaal?” Gaal continues his contemptuous words. There is the noted Jerubbaal, and then there is his son. “It’s not the son who accomplished the victory for Israel. It was Jerubbaal! What are we doing serving this guy?”

28 (con’t) and is not Zebul his officer?

u-zevul p’qido – “and Zebul his overseer?” Again, a name is introduced without any previous introduction or reason. The name Zebul comes from the verb zevul, to dwell. It is connected to the noun zaval, habitation. Thus, it means something like Habitation. He is mentioned six times in the narrative and nowhere else.

28 (con’t) Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him?

The designation now goes from baale, masters, to anshe, men: ivdu eth anshe khamor avi sh’khem u-madua naavdenu anakhnu – “Serve men Hamor, father Shechem! And why we serve him – we?” Gaal has called Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal. Now, he mentions Hamor, the father of Shechem.

What he seems to be doing is saying, “Why would we serve the son when we can serve the father?” It would explain the words about serving Shechem in the first clause. In other words, it would be like someone in the Civil War saying, “Who is Davis (the leader) and who is Richmond (the place)? Serve Lincoln (the leader) and Washington (the place)!”

Even though Richmond isn’t the son of Washington, you can see that he is going from the lesser to the greater. As for Hamor, it is identical to khamor, donkey, but that is derived from khamar, to be red. The name means Donkey, but that is because the donkey, and thus the name, literally means Red One.

The last words of the verse, “And why we serve him – we?” form a phrase filled with contempt. “Here is this nobody. He’s just a son of the great Jerubbaal. What are people like us (WE!) doing serving him?” As such…

29 If only this people were under my authority!

u-mi yiten eth ha’am ha’zeh b’yadi– “And who gives the people, the this, in my hand?” In verse 2, Abimelech spurred the people of Shechem to make him the ruler. Now, Gaal is doing something similar.

The people of Shechem had strengthened Abimelech’s hand. Now that the evil spirit from elohim was fomenting strife between them, Gaal is calling for them to be placed under his authority. This appears to be the reason why Zebul was introduced. He is the overseer of the city. Therefore, if Gaal was placed over the city…

29 (con’t) Then I would remove Abimelech.”

The verb is cohortative: v’asirah eth avimelekh – “And I remove Abimelech.” With the people of Shechem under his authority, he promises, as if it is an imperative, to remove Abimelech from being over them. It is implied that the people agreed to this because it says…

29 (con’t) So he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!”

vayomer la’avimelekh rabeh tsvaakha vatseah – “And says to Abimelech, ‘Multiply your army and come out!’” The words “And says to Abimelech” could mean one of a couple things. Gaal may have said it indirectly through a messenger. But what seems likely is that the words were not really to Abimelech. Instead, they are uttered as a boastful or drunken person might. Abimelech yelled out for any and all to hear.

No matter what, his words are in the form of an imperative. “Get yourself ready. War is coming, so come out!”

Power and control will mean nothing on the day
When we must stand before the judgment of God
No person will be able to say
I am worthy, so give me the approval nod

What is it for a man to gain the whole world
But to then lose his soul?
When the deeds of our lives are unfurled
What will be found upon our scroll?

Love the Lord your God, yes, love Him always
He alone is worthy to receive such as this
Give to Him the glory He is do for all your days
In this, you will find joy and eternal bliss

II. Where Indeed Is Your Mouth Now? (verses 30-45)

30 When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused.

vayishma zevul sar ha’ir eth divre gaal ben aved vayikhar apo – “And hears Zebul, governor the city, words Gaal son Ebed, and burns his nostril.” Again, there are various possibilities concerning these words. It could be that Zebul was there with the men as they partied and trivialized Abimelech.

If so, it was only fun until Gaal challenged his position as the head of the city, at which time he took personal offense. Or it could be that the words made their way to Zebul from someone who heard them firsthand. Either way, once he heard the words, he was severely torqued off, as if smoke fumed out of his nostrils…

31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly,

It is a complicated clause: vayishlakh malakhim el avimelekh b’tarmah – “And sends messengers unto Abimelech in deceit.” A new word is introduced here, tormah. It will be seen six times, always meaning deceit or deception.

However, that meaning is unsuitable here, unless the deceit is that he agreed to the words of Gaal as he spoke them. If so, then the deceit is not against Abimelech, but Gaal. If not, it may be that it is a proper noun, “in Tarmah.” If this is the case, then the name of the location where Abimelech was would be Deception.

31 (con’t) saying, “Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem;

l’mor hineh gaal ben eved v’ekhav baim sh’khemah – “to say, ‘Behold, Gaal son Ebed, and his brothers coming Shechem-ward.’” The words seem to imply that Abimelech already knew who Gaal was. Zebul is warning that Gaal and his brothers had come unto Shechem. Then, upon their arrival…

31 (con’t) and here they are, fortifying the city against you.

v’hinam tsarim eth ha’ir alekha – “And behold, adversarying the city against you.” The word is tsur, to confine, bind, besiege, etc. It comes from a primitive root meaning to cramp. As such, it is normally translated with the idea of a city being besieged by cramping the people inside.

In this case, the action is outward from the city against Abimelech. Thus, I have coined a new word and say they are adversarying the city. This would then be in line with Exodus 23:22 –

“But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary [tsar] to your adversaries [tsar].”

Whether this is a valid thought or not, the point is that the city is being prepared, either the people representing the city, or the city itself…

32 Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field.

His words are emphatic: v’atah qum laylah atah v’ha’am asher itakh v’erov ba’sadeh – “And now arise, night, you and the people who with you, and lie in wait in the field.” It is the same word translated as ambush in verse 25. This time, however, it is not merely setting up an ambush, but they are also lying in wait to attack.

The curious thing is that Zebul is directing Abimelech, his superior, to do this. It is contrary to the propriety of the situation for him to do so without some further explanation as to why. However, none is provided. Despite that, he continues with his minute directions…

33 And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city;

v’hayah ba’boqer kizroakh ha’shemesh tashkim uphashatta al ha’ir – “And is, in the morning, according to rising the sun, rising early and deployed upon the city.” As seen, this is not simply an ambush. Rather, the people lie in wait. Some will charge the city at the rising of the sun while others will be set for an ambush when needed.

Of these words, John Gill says, “For being with his forces advanced near to it by a march in the night, he would be able by sunrising to attack the city before the inhabitants were up to defend it, and so surprise them.”

That completely dismisses the next words and logic itself. If the people were not up yet, the gates would be shut and bolted. Instead of an attack, it would be a besieging attack. Some posted guards may be speared or shot, but from that point on, it would be a battle against a barricaded city. That isn’t what Zebul next says…

33 (con’t) and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may then do to them as you find opportunity.”

v’hineh hu v’ha’am asher ito yotsim elekha v’asitha lo ka’asher timtsa yadekha – “And behold, he, and the people who with him coming out towards you. And do to him according to which finding your hand.” Zebul is confident that the rush upon the city would elicit a response. The people in the city would come out to battle against them.

34 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies.

vayaqum avimelekh v’kal ha’am asher imo laylah v’erervu al sh’khem arbaah rashim – “And arises, Abimelech, and all the people who with him, night, and lies in wait upon Shechem, four heads.” Just as instructed, so Abimelech did. With him were enough people to be divided under four heads. Thus, there is to be both a frontal assault and ambushes against those who come out.

The number four “is the number of things that have a beginning, of things that are made, of material things, and matter itself. It is the number of material completeness. Hence it is the world number, and especially the ‘city’ number” (Bullinger).

35 When Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate,

vayetse gaal ben eved vayaamod pethakh shaar ha’ir – “And goes out, Gaal son Ebed, and stands opening gate the city.” The gate of the city is where judging takes place, business is transacted, and so forth. He has come here, probably thinking that he should be the one to lead the city, even though Zebul possessed that right.

However, once Gaal was there, indicating that the gates of the city had been opened for the day…

35 (con’t) Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait.

vayaqum avimelekh v’ha’am asher ito min ha’marav – “and arises, Abimelech, and the people with him from the lying in wait.” With the gates open, and with Gaal standing in them, indicating someone was there to conduct business, it was then time for Abimelech to initiate the proposed action…

36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”

vayar gaal eth ha’am vayomer el zevul hineh am yored merashe he’harim – “And sees, Gaal, the people, and says unto Zebul, ‘Behold, people descending from heads the mountains.’” Gaal was standing at the gate looking out. There is no reason at all for him to suspect an attack. This is simply a person looking at the skyline as anyone would do early in the morning at the gate of the city.

However, his eyes catch the movement of Abimelech and his men. Despite this, Zebul treats Gaal with the same contempt as Gaal had directed toward him…

36 (con’t) But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.”

vayomer elav zevul eth tsel he’harim atah roeh ka’anashim – “And says unto him, Zebul, ‘Shadow the mountains you see, according to men.’” Zebul mockingly jests at Gaal as if he were an uneducated doof. It is obvious that they are people, but Zebul is clearly having fun with the moment. On the other hand…

37 So Gaal spoke again and said, “See, people are coming down from the center of the land,

vayoseph od gaal l’daber vayomer hineh am yordim me’im tabur ha’arets – “And adds again, Gaal, to speak, and says, ‘Behold, people, descenders, from with center the land.” Here is a new and rare word, tabur, translated as center.

It is from an unused root meaning to pile up. Thus, it signifies accumulated. By implication, then, it is a navel or a summit. As such, it is the middle. It will only be seen again in Ezekiel 38 –

“You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— 12 to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst [tabbur] of the land.’: Ezekiel 38:11, 12

Gaal is now certain of what he sees and proclaims it again…

37 (con’t) and another company is coming from the Diviners’ Terebinth Tree.”

v’rosh ekhad ba mi’derekh elon m’onim – “and head one coming from way Oak Soothsayers’.” Seeing that there is a rush upon the city from the center, the natural thing to do is scan the entire visible panorama. In doing so, he sees a second group coming from an area known as Soothsayers’ Oak. It was probably a giant spreading oak that people thought was suitable for practicing divination or witchcraft.

38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’

vayomer elav zevul ayeh epho pikha asher tomar mi avimelekh ki naavdenu – “And says unto him, Zebul, ‘Where here your mouth which you said, “Who Abimelech that we serve him?”’” It is a derogatory interrogatory: “Where’s your big mouth now? It’s time to put up or shut up. You questioned Abimelech’s authority. Well, here’s your chance to do something about it.”

38 (con’t) Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out, if you will, and fight with them now.”

halo zeh ha’am asher maastah bo tse na atah v’hilakhem bo – “Not this the people who you rejected in him? Go out, I pray, now, and fight in him.” The meaning is that when he rejected Abimelech, he rejected those who are now with him.

Therefore, stating it as an imperative, Zebul tells Gaal to go out to fight Abimelech and those with him. And more, he adds in the taunting, na, or I pray. It is a jab like, “Well, if you’re man enough.” It leaves little room for Gaal to do anything but go.

39 So Gaal went out, leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.

The words return to baale, masters, once again: vayetse gaal liphne baale sh’khem vayilakhem ba’avimelekh – “And goes out, Gaal, to faces masters Shechem, and fights in Abimelech.” With little choice except to face total disgrace, Gaal went out before the masters of Shechem to face his fate…

40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate.

The words are exciting as the imperfect verbs come rolling forth: vayirdphehu avimelekh vayanas mipanav vayiphlu khalalim rabim ad petakh ha’shaar – “And pursues him, Abimelech, and flees from his face, and falls pierced many, unto entrance the gate.” It is a total rout of the forces of Gaal. His people retreated and were cut down all the way to the entrance of the city itself. With that job tidied up, it next says…

41 Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers,

vayeshev avimelekh barumah vaygaresh zevul eth gaal v’eth ekhav – “And dwells Abimelech in the Arumah, and dispossesses, Zebul, Gaal and his brothers.” The name Arumah is found only here. It comes from rum, to be high. Thus, it means Height or Elevated, or even Exalted. If the latter, it can be positive or negative. For example, speaking of the antichrist, Daniel 11 says –

“Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt [rum] and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” Daniel 11:36

By stopping at the gate of Shechem, it is apparent that Abimelech left the matter of the city and Gaal to Zebul the city manager. From there Zebul took appropriate action to eject Gaal…

41 (con’t) so that they would not dwell in Shechem.

mi’sheveth bishkhem – “from dwelling in Shechem.” Gaal is expelled from the city, and that seems like the end of the matter. However, it is the masters of Shechem that rebelled against Abimelech. Thus, any remaining would have to be dealt with. Therefore…

42 And it came about on the next day that the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech.

v’hi mimakorath vayetse ha’am ha’sadeh vayagidu la’avimelekh – “And is from morrow, and goes out the people the field, and declares to Abimelech.” With Abimelech gone from the gates of Shechem, and with Gaal and his brothers expelled from the city, the people went back to the field as people need to do.

However, they were the ones who had allied with Gaal and against Abimelech. As soon as they are seen in the field, on the very next day, he sets forth to act…

43 So he took his people, divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field.

vayiqakh et ha’am vayekhetsem lishloshah rashim vayeerov ba’sadeh – “And takes the people, and divides them to three heads, and lays in wait in the field.” This time, the division of his people is under three heads. Bullinger notes that “the number three points us to what is real, essential, perfect, substantial, complete, and Divine.” In other words, Divine Perfection. With his companies arrayed…

43 (con’t) And he looked, and there were the people, coming out of the city; and he rose against them and attacked them.

vayar v’hineh ha’am yotse min ha’ir vayaqam alehem vayakem – “And sees, and behold, the people going from the city. And arises against them, and strikes them.” Again, as before, Abimelech was able to destroy those left in the city. This time, it would have been easier because they were completely unsuspecting.

44 Then Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city;

Rather than then, it says and. This explains what was just said: va’avimelekh v’kharashim asher imo pashtu vayaamdu petakh shaar ha’ir – “And Abimelech, and the companies that with him deploys and stands entrance gate the city.” There was a rush towards the gate. This would keep any from retreating inside, and it would allow them to keep the entrance open if those inside tried to shut the gates.

44 (con’t) and the other two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and killed them.

ushne kharashim pashtu al kal asher ba’sadeh va’yakum – “And two companies deployed upon all who in the field, and strikes them.” With the city secured, one company remained with Abimelech. The other two deployed into the field and struck all who were there.

45 So Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city and killed the people who were in it;

va’avimelekh nilkham ba’ir kol hayom ha’hu vayilkod eth ha’ir v’eth ha’am asher bah – “And Abimelech fought in the city, all the day, the it. And captures the city and the people in her killed.” By securing the gate, they were able to gain access into the city, seize it, and kill everyone in it in one day. With that complete…

*45 (fin) and he demolished the city and sowed it with salt.

vayitots eth ha’ir vayizraeha melakh – “And tears down the city, and sow her, salt.” By salting the city, it means that he considers the city irretrievably destroyed, no longer to be useful. And that, in perpetuity. Shechem, (Having a Sense of) Responsibility was to no longer be considered as such.

Biblically, salt is a sign of covenant faithfulness, incorruptibility, and perpetuity.

With that, we will close today. It was a lot of verses and information to take in. We will complete the passage and explain it in the next sermon. For now, we can look to the actions of Abimelech and know that this is the fate of those who conspire and kill.

Eventually, the very thing done to obtain power is what often leads to the demise of the doer. It is as if the divine hand of justice reaches down and fills their lives with the trouble they have brought upon others.

It isn’t always this way. But even those who have lived like this and died in peace still have to face the Judge of all mankind. How much better it would be for people to let go of such things and exalt the Lord by coming to Jesus!

In doing so, people can at least expect a joyous reunion with God when their day to stand before Him comes. Let us consider this and place Christ Jesus in the appropriate place in our lives. All of the power, money, and fame in the world ultimately means nothing when our days are through.

Live for the Lord! It will make an eternal difference in how things go for our souls.

Closing Verse: “I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.” Psalm 34:1-3

Next Week: Judges 9:22-45 He’s headed to heck. That’s his trek’m, this is for shore… (Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part IV) (30th Judges sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who judges His people according to their deeds. So, follow Him, live for Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Abimelech, King of Shechem, Part III

After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years
God sent a spirit of ill will, like when getting a bad check
Between Abimelech and the men of Shechem
And the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech

That the crime done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal
Might be settled and their blood be laid on their brother Abimelech
Who killed them, and on the men of Shechem
Who aided him in the killing of his brothers, chopping at the neck

And the men of Shechem set men in ambush
Against him on the tops of the mountains, each a roughneck
And they robbed all who passed by them along that way
And it was told Abimelech

Now Gaal the son of Ebed came
With his brothers and went over to Shechem
And the men of Shechem
Put their confidence in him

So they went out into the fields, and gathered grapes
From their vineyards and trod them, and made merry
And they went into the house of their god
And ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech with words pretty scary

Then Gaal the son of Ebed said
“Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that him we
———-should serve? Please observe…
Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer?
Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but him, why
———-should we serve?

If only this people were under my authority!
Then I would remove Abimelech, no doubt!
So he said to Abimelech
“Increase your army and come out!”

When Zebul, the ruler of the city (where he was housed)
Heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused

And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying
“Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers (yes, it is true)
Have come to Shechem; and here they are
Fortifying the city against you

Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who
———-are with you
And lie in wait in the field; this you are to do

And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning
That you shall rise early and rush upon the city
And when he and the people who are with him come out
———-against you
You may then do to them as you find opportu-nity

So Abimelech and all the people
Who were with him rose by night
And lay in wait against Shechem
In four companies, hiding out of sight

When Gaal the son of Ebed went out
And stood in the entrance to the city gate
Abimelech and the people who were with him
Rose from lying in wait

And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul
“Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!
———-fer sher
But Zebul said to him
“You see the shadows of the mountains as if they men were

So Gaal spoke again and said
“See, people are coming down, take a look and see
From the center of the land, and another company is coming
From the Diviners’ Terebinth Tree

Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now
With which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech? Really… wow!
That we should serve him?’ Are not these the people
———-whom you despised?
Go out, if you will, and fight with them now

So Gaal went out, what the heck
Leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech

And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him
———-he wouldn’t wait
And many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate

Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal
———-and his brothers too
So that they would not dwell in Shechem, something they
———-wouldn’t do

And it came about on the next day (but still night in Quebec)
That the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech

So he took his people, divided them into three companies
And lay in wait in the field, waiting to react
And he looked, and there were the people, coming out of the city
And he rose against them and them he attacked

Then Abimelech and the company that was with him
Rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city
And the other two companies rushed upon all
Who were in the fields and killed them, showing no pity

So Abimelech fought against the city all that day
He took the city and killed the people who were in it
And he demolished the city and sowed it with salt
A brutal guy indeed, we must admit

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, 23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the crime done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his brothers. 25 And the men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way; and it was told Abimelech.

26 Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27 So they went out into the fields, and gathered grapes from their vineyards and trod them, and made merry. And they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. 28 Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is 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? 29 If only this people were under my authority! Then I would remove Abimelech.” So he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!”

30 When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem; and here they are, fortifying the city against you. 32 Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33 And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may then do to them as you find opportunity.”

34 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. 35 When Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate, Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”

But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.”

37 So Gaal spoke again and said, “See, people are coming down from the center of the land, and another company is coming from the Diviners’ Terebinth Tree.”

38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out, if you will, and fight with them now.”

39 So Gaal went out, leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate. 41 Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they would not dwell in Shechem.

42 And it came about on the next day that the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech. 43 So he took his people, divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field. And he looked, and there were the people, coming out of the city; and he rose against them and attacked them. 44 Then Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city; and the other two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and killed them. 45 So Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city and killed the people who were in it; and he demolished the city and sowed it with salt.