1. Abimelech, the son of Jerubaal, marched to Shechem where the brothers of his mother were, and he said to them and to the whole paternal family of his mother,

2. "Please ask this of all the lords of Shechem: Which is better for you, that you be governed by all the seventy sons of Jerubaal, or by only one man? Remember that I am of the same blood as you are."

3. The brothers of his mother sent this message to all the lords of Shechem. The lords of Shechem took sides with Abimelech, saying, "He is our brother."

4. So they gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith which Abimelech used to hire wicked mercenaries to set out with him.

5. Abimelech went with them to the house of his father in Ophrah, and on one stone killed all his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubaal. Only Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubaal, was able to escape by hiding himself.

6. Then all the lords of Shechem and the whole council assembled together by the oak at the pillar in Shechem, and proclaimed Abimelech king.

7. When Jotham was told about this, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim. There he cried out to them, "Listen to me, lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you!

8. The trees once set out to find and anoint a king. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king.'

9. The olive tree answered, 'Am I going to renounce the oil by which - thanks to me - gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?'

10. The trees said to the fig tree: 'Come and reign over us.'

11. The fig tree answered them, 'Am I going to renounce my sweetness and my delicious fruit, to hold sway over the trees?'

12. The trees said to the vine: 'Come and reign over us.'

13. The vine answered, 'Am I going to renounce my juice which cheers gods and men to hold sway over the trees?'

14. Then the trees said to the bramble bush: 'Come, reign over us.'

15. The bramble bush answered the trees, 'If you come in sincerity to anoint me as your king, then come near and take shelter in my shade; but if not, let fire break out of the bramble bush to devour even the cedars of Lebanon.'

16. And now, tell me, have you acted rightly and truthfully in choosing Abimelech king? Have you treated Jerubaal and his family well and given him what he deserves according to his merits?

17. For my father fought for you, risking his life to free you from the hands of Midian.

18. But now, you have risen against the family of my father. You have killed all his seventy sons with one stone, and have declared Abimelech, the son of his slave, as king over the lords of Shechem because he is your brother.

19. If you have acted rightly and truthfully toward Jerubaal and his family today, then may Abimelech rejoice in you and you in him.

20. But if not, let fire break forth from Abimelech to devour the lords of Shechem and their council; and let fire break forth from their council to devour Abimelech."

21. Jotham fled to the safety of Beer, where he lived far from his brother Abimelech.

22. Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years.

23. But Yahweh sent a spirit of discord between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem betrayed Abimelech.

24. Yahweh did this so that the seventy sons of Jerubaal might be avenged. Their blood had to fall back upon their brother Abimelech who murdered them, and the lords of Shechem who helped him murder his brothers.

25. To do him harm, the lords of Shechem prepared ambushes against Abimelech on the mountaintops, and intimidated everyone who passed by the way. Abimelech was informed of this.

26. Then Gaal, the son of Ebed, came with his brothers, and he won the confidence of the lords of Shechem.

27. One day they went to the vineyards and gathered grapes and trod on them. Then they feasted in the temple of their god. While eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech.

28. Then Gaal, the son of Ebed, exclaimed, "Who is Abimelech for the Shechemites that we should serve him? He is only the son of Jerubaal, and Zebul is but his town captain. Let us serve the people of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech?

29. If only this people were in my hands, then I would remove Abimelech and say to him: Reinforce your army, come out and fight!"

30. When Zebul, the city governor, was informed of the plan of Gaal, the son of Ebed, he was very angry.

31. He sent messengers to Abimelech in secret to say to him, "See, Gaal, the son of Ebed, has come with his brothers to Shechem and he is stirring up the city against you.

32. Therefore, arise, you and the men you have with you, and lay an ambush in the field.

33. By early morning at sunrise, go and rush upon the city. When Gaal comes out against you with his men, you may do to him whatever you wish."

34. Abimelech and all his troops rose by night, and they laid an ambush against Shechem in four groups.

35. When Gaal, the son of Ebed, went out and stood at the entrance of the city, Abimelech and his troops rose from their hiding place.

36. Gaal saw the troops and said to Zebul, "Look, people are coming down from the mountain tops." But Zebul answered him, "It is the shadow of the mountain that you see. You mistake it for men."

37. Gaal said again, "Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and another group is coming from the Diviners' Oak."

38. Zebul then said, "Did you not say: Who is Abimelech that we should serve him? Are not these men those whom you despised? Go now and fight them."

39. Gaal went out and led the people of Shechem in fighting Abimelech.

40. Abimelech pursued Gaal who fled and many fell dead before reaching the gates.

41. Abimelech returned to Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, and did not let them live in Shechem.

42. The following day, the people went out into the fields. Abimelech was informed about this,

43. so he called his troops, divided them into three groups and laid an ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose against them and killed them.

44. Abimelech and the group with him attacked and took possession of the entrance to the city gates; other groups rushed upon those who were in the fields.

45. Throughout that day, Abimelech attacked the city. He took it and killed all its inhabitants. Then he destroyed the city and sprinkled salt over it.

46. When the inhabitants of the Tower of Shechem heard this, they went to the underground room of the temple of El-Berith.

47. Abimelech was told that all the inhabitants of the Tower of Shechem were together,

48. so he went up to Mount Zalmon with all his troops. Taking an ax, he cut down a branch of a tree, lifted it up and bore it on his shoulders. He then said to the troops with him, "You have seen what I have done, so do the same."

49. So all his men cut the branches, then followed Abimelech. They piled the branches on top of the underground room and set them on fire over the people inside. So all the inhabitants of the Tower of Shechem - about a thousand men and women - died.

50. Abimelech went against Thebez, besieged it and took it.

51. But inside the city was a strong tower in which all the men and women, all the inhabitants of the city sought refuge. They locked it from within and went up to the roof of the tower.

52. Abimelech came to the tower to attack them; he approached the door, intending to set it on fire.

53. But a woman threw a millstone upon his head and shattered his skull.

54. He immediately called out to his young armor-bearer and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me: 'A woman killed him'." So his armor-bearer thrust him through, and he died.

55. When the people of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone returned to his home.

56. In this way God repaid Abimelech for the evil he had done to his father when he murdered his seventy brothers.

57. He also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. So the curse of Jotham, son of Jerubaal, was fulfilled.



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