Shof'tim (Judges) Chapter 9

The corresponding letter to this chapter is Tet- serpent; objective good-that which appears evil but is for our improvement.

Shof’tim 9:1-2 And Avimelekh the son of Yeruba’al went to Sh’khem to his mother's relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother's father, saying, "Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Sh’khem, 'Which is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Yeruba’al, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?' Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh."

Yeruba’al – remember this is another name for Gideon. So Avimelekh is one if Gideon’s 70 sons.

This almost sounds like one of those campaign slogans, Are you better off now than you were four years ago, etc.

Shof’tim 9:3-6 And his mother's relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Sh’khem; and they were inclined to follow Avimelekh, for they said, "He is our relative." And they gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-B’rit with which Avimelekh hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. Then he went to his father's house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers the sons of Yeruba’al, seventy men, on one stone. But Yotam the youngest son of Yeruba’al was left, for he hid himself. And all the men of Sh’khem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Avimelekh king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Sh’khem.

Avimelech becomes King by force and butchery. Talk about ruthless…these were his own ½ brothers that he killed off.

Shof’tim 9:7-15 Now when they told Yotam, he went and stood on the top of Mount G’rizim, and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, "Listen to me, O men of Sh’khem, that G-d may listen to you. Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us!' "But the olive tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my fatness with which G-d and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?' "Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'You come, reign over us!' "But the fig tree said to them, 'Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?' "Then the trees said to the vine, 'You come, reign over us!' "But the vine said to them, 'Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers G-d and men, and go to wave over the trees?' "Finally all the trees said to the bramble, 'You come, reign over us!' "And the bramble said to the trees, 'If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.'

Those that are useful have more important things to do then to become Kings. Even the Messiah had a duty to do before He becomes King of Israel. And it wasn’t to harm others but to save. Mostly only the vain want to rule over others and take control by force. The bramble the most useless of the trees, especially for shade, wanted to shade the people and would do so poorly. This represents certain rulers who do not care about the people but only themselves and their own ambition. They can rule cruelly (like the bramble with thorns) and in so doing can consume the most noble of trees the cedars of Lebanon. (The seventy men of Yeruba’al)

Back to Yotam:

Shof’tim 9:16-21 "Now therefore, if you have dealt in truth and integrity in making Avimelekh king, and if you have dealt well with Yeruba’al and his house, and have dealt with him as he deserved-- for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; but you have risen against my father's house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Avimelekh, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Sh’khem, because he is your relative-- if then you have dealt in truth and integrity with Yeruba’al and his house this day, rejoice in Avimelekh, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Avimelekh and consume the men of Sh’khem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Sh’khem and from Beth-millo, and consume Avimelekh." Then Yotam escaped and fled, and went to Beer and remained there because of Avimelekh his brother.

Yotam is pronounced judgment on his brother Avimelekh his brother and the people of Sh’khem. However, we will see that the judgment did not come for a few years.

Shof’tim 9:22-25 Now Avimelekh ruled over Israel three years. Then G-d sent an evil spirit between Avimelekh and the men of Sh’khem; and the men of Sh’khem dealt treacherously with Avimelekh, in order that the violence done to the seventy sons of Yeruba’al might come, and their blood might be laid on Avimelekh their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Sh’khem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. And the men of Sh’khem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Avimelekh.

This is interesting…G-d allowed an evil spirit, a demon, to come against Avimelekh and the people of Sh’khem in order to punish them.

Shof’tim 9:26-41 Now Ga’al the son of Eved came with his relatives, and crossed over into Sh’khem; and the men of Sh’khem put their trust in him. And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards and trod them, and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank and cursed Avimelekh. Then Ga’al the son of Eved said, "Who is Avimelekh, and who is Sh’khem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Yeruba’al, and is Z’vul not his lieutenant? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Sh’khem; but why should we serve him? "Would, therefore, that this people were under my authority! Then I would remove Avimelekh." And he said to Avimelekh, "Increase your army, and come out." And when Z’vul the ruler of the city heard the words of Ga’al the son of Eved, his anger burned. And he sent messengers to Avimelekh deceitfully, saying, "Look, Ga’al the son of Eved and his relatives have come to Sh’khem; and look, they are stirring up the city against you. Now therefore, arise by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. And it shall come about in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and look, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you shall do to them whatever you can." So Avimelekh and all the people who were with him arose by night and lay in wait against Sh’khem in four companies. Now Ga’al the son of Eved went out and stood in the entrance of the city gate; and Avimelekh and the people who were with him arose from the ambush. And when Ga’al saw the people, he said to Z’vul, "Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains." But Z’vul said to him, "You are seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were men." And Ga’al spoke again and said, "Look, people are coming down from the highest part of the land, and one company comes by the way of the diviners' oak." Then Z’vul said to him, "Where is your boasting now with which you said, 'Who is Avimelekh that we should serve him?' Is this not the people whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them!" So Ga’al went out before the leaders of Sh’khem and fought with Avimelekh. And Avimelekh chased him, and he fled before him; and many fell wounded up to the entrance of the gate. Then Avimelekh remained at Arumah, but Z’vul drove out Ga’al and his relatives so that they could not remain in Sh’khem.

So the coup against Avimelekh failed. But wait…there’s more.

Shof’tim 9:42-45 Now it came about the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was told to Avimelekh. So he took his people and divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field; when he looked and saw the people coming out from the city, he arose against them and slew them. Then Avimelekh and the company who was with him dashed forward and stood in the entrance of the city gate; the other two companies then dashed against all who were in the field and slew them. And Avimelekh fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

Then he razed the city and sowed it with salt – Sprinkling salt over the city was symbolizing perpetual desolation of the city.

Shof’tim 9:46-49- When all the leaders of the tower of Sh’khem heard of it, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-B’rit. And it was told Avimelekh that all the leaders of the tower of Sh’khem were gathered together. So Avimelekh went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Avimelekh took an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees, and lifted it and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, "What you have seen me do, hurry and do likewise." And all the people also cut down each one his branch and followed Avimelekh, and put them on the inner chamber and set the inner chamber on fire over those inside, so that all the men of the tower of Sh’khem also died, about a thousand men and women.

This is really grizzly burned alive. There is no end to how ruthless this guy is.

Shof’tim 9:50-57 Then Avimelekh went to Tevetz, and he camped against Tevetz and captured it. But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower. So Avimelekh came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Avimelekh's head, crushing his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest it be said of me, 'A woman slew him.'" So the young man pierced him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Avimelekh was dead, each departed to his home. Thus G-d repaid the wickedness of Avimelekh, which he had done to his father, in killing his seventy brothers. Also G-d returned all the wickedness of the men of Sh’khem on their heads, and the curse of Yotam the son of Yeruba’al came upon them.

So here we see another woman getting the credit for killing the enemy. The L-rd G-d will use whoever is willing to serve or be used by Him – Man or woman.