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Judges Chapter 9 | Parsha:

1Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to his mother’s brothers in Shechem and spoke to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family. He said, 2“Put this question to all the citizens of Shechem: Which is better for you, to be ruled by seventy men—by all the sons of Jerubbaal—or to be ruled by one man? And remember, I am your own flesh and blood.” 3His mother’s brothers said all this in his behalf to all the citizens of Shechem, and they were won over to Abimelech; for they thought, “He is our kinsman.” 4They gave him seventy shekels from the temple of Baal-berith; and with this Abimelech hired some worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. 5Then he went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men on one stone. Only Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he went into hiding.

6All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo convened, and they proclaimed Abimelech king at the terebinth of the pillar at Shechem. 7When Jotham was informed, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and called out to them in a loud voice. “Citizens of Shechem!” he cried, “listen to me, that God may listen to you.

8“Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9But the olive tree replied, ‘Have I, through whom God and men are honored, stopped yielding my rich oil, that I should go and wave above the trees?’ 10So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 11But the fig tree replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my sweetness, my delicious fruit, that I should go and wave above the trees?’ 12So the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 13But the vine replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my new wine, which gladdens God and men, that I should go and wave above the trees?’ 14Then all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and reign over us.’ 15And the thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you are acting honorably in anointing me king over you, come and take shelter in my shade; but if not, may fire issue from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’

16“Now then, if you acted honorably and loyally in making Abimelech king, if you have done right by Jerubbaal and his house and have requited him according to his deserts— 17considering that my father fought for you and saved you from the Midianites at the risk of his life, 18and now you have turned on my father’s household, killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and set up Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, as king over the citizens of Shechem just because he is your kinsman— 19if, I say, you have this day acted honorably and loyally toward Jerubbaal and his house, have joy in Abimelech and may he likewise have joy in you. 20But if not, may fire issue from Abimelech and consume the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire issue from the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech!”

21With that, Jotham fled. He ran to Beer and stayed there, because of his brother Abimelech.

22Abimelech held sway over Israel for three years. 23Then God sent a spirit of discord between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, and the citizens of Shechem broke faith with Abimelech— 24to the end that the crime committed against the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be avenged, and their blood recoil upon their brother Abimelech, who had slain them, and upon the citizens of Shechem, who had abetted him in the slaying of his brothers. 25The citizens of Shechem planted ambuscades against him on the hilltops; and they robbed whoever passed by them on the road. Word of this reached Abimelech.

26Then Gaal son of Ebed and his companions came passing through Shechem, and the citizens of Shechem gave him their confidence. 27They went out into the fields, gathered and trod out the vintage of their vineyards, and made a festival. They entered the temple of their god, and as they ate and drank they reviled Abimelech. 28Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who are [we] Shechemites, that we should serve him? This same son of Jerubbaal and his lieutenant Zebul once served the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem; so why should we serve him? 29Oh, if only this people were under my command, I would get rid of Abimelech! One would challenge Abimelech, ‘Fill up your ranks and come out here!’”

30When Zebul, the governor of the city, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was furious. 31He sent messages to Abimelech at Tormah to say, “Gaal son of Ebed and his companions have come to Shechem and they are inciting the city against you. 32Therefore, set out at night with the forces you have with you and conceal yourself in the fields. 33Early next morning, as the sun rises, advance on the city. He and his men will thereupon come out against you, and you will do to him whatever you find possible.”

34Abimelech and all the men with him set out at night and disposed themselves against Shechem in four hiding places. 35When Gaal son of Ebed came out and stood at the entrance to the city gate, Abimelech and the army with him emerged from concealment. 36Gaal saw the army and said to Zebul, “That’s an army marching down from the hilltops!” But Zebul said to him, “The shadows of the hills look to you like men.” 37Gaal spoke up again, “Look, an army is marching down from Tabbur-erez, and another column is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim.” 38“Well,” replied Zebul, “where is your boast, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him’? There is the army you sneered at; now go out and fight it!”

39So Gaal went out at the head of the citizens of Shechem and gave battle to Abimelech. 40But he had to flee before him, and Abimelech pursued him, and many fell slain, all the way to the entrance of the gate. 41Then Abimelech stayed in Arumah, while Zebul expelled Gaal and his companions and kept them out of Shechem.

42The next day, when people went out into the fields, Abimelech was informed. 43Taking the army, he divided it into three columns and lay in ambush in the fields; and when he saw the people coming out of the city, he pounced upon them and struck them down. 44While Abimelech and the column that followed him dashed ahead and took up a position at the entrance of the city gate, the other two columns rushed upon all that were in the open and struck them down. 45Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and massacred the people in it; he razed the town and sowed it with salt.

46When all the citizens of the Tower of Shechem learned of this, they went into the tunnel of the temple of El-berith. 47When Abimelech was informed that all the citizens of the Tower of Shechem had gathered [there], 48Abimelech and all the troops he had with him went up on Mount Zalmon. Taking an ax in his hand, Abimelech lopped off a tree limb and lifted it onto his shoulder. Then he said to the troops that accompanied him, “What you saw me do—quick, do the same!” 49So each of the troops also lopped off a bough; then they marched behind Abimelech and laid them against the tunnel, and set fire to the tunnel over their heads. Thus all the people of the Tower of Shechem also perished, about a thousand men and women.

50Abimelech proceeded to Thebez; he encamped at Thebez and occupied it. 51Within the town was a fortified tower; and all the citizens of the town, men and women, took refuge there. They shut themselves in, and went up on the roof of the tower. 52Abimelech pressed forward to the tower and attacked it. He approached the door of the tower to set it on fire. 53But a woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and cracked his skull. 54He immediately cried out to his attendant, his arms-bearer, “Draw your dagger and finish me off, that they may not say of me, ‘A woman killed him!’” So his attendant stabbed him, and he died. 55When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone went home.

56Thus God repaid Abimelech for the evil he had done to his father by slaying his seventy brothers; 57and God likewise repaid the men of Shechem for all their wickedness. And so the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal was fulfilled upon them.

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