The Lord delivered Israel by the hand of Gideon and Israel has peace through the end of Gideon’s life but the people are not following God as their ruler as Gideon had said in Judges 8:23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; Yahweh will rule over you.” One of Gideon’s sons stirs up “the lords of Shechem” in Judges 9:2 to make him their king and then he, Abimelech, kills all but one of his brothers. As “the lords of Scechum” declare Abimelech king, Jotham, the brother that got away, declares to them, in Judges 9:16 “if you have acted in good faith” … but they have not and this will end badly for these opportunists, Abimelech and “the lords of Shechem” who would usurp the Lord’s place. Finally, Israel understands they cannot just cry out to God for deliverance, they must turn to him as in Judges 10:16 “So they removed the foreign gods from their midst and served Yahweh”.
I Am Your Bone and Your Flesh
Gideon had refused to be a leader over Israel and understood that the Lord was their king in
Judges 8:23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; Yahweh will rule over you.”
but Gideon has died and Israel has forgotten Gideon’s family in
Judges 8:34–35 The Israelites did not remember Yahweh their God, who had delivered them from the hand of their enemies from all around, 35 nor did they show favor to the house of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) in accordance with all the good that he did for Israel.
This decision of Gideon to refuse to rule over Israel was, in the mind of Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons, was a missed opportunity. So, as soon as his father was dead, he went to his mother and grandfather to have them speak for him, to promote him as their ruler in
Judges 9:2 “Speak to the lords of Shechem, ‘What is better for you, that seventy men all from the sons of Jerub-Baal rule over you, or that one man rules over you?’ Remember that I am your bone and your flesh.”
and his mother and grandfather agreed and “the lords of Shechem” in Judges 9:3 agreed and in
Judges 9:4 And they gave to him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech hired with them worthless and reckless men, and they followed him.
This money didn’t come from the city treasury or the leaders own support, instead, it was from the temple of the god the people had begun to follow “in Judg 8:33, baʿal bĕrı̂t was seen to be a pagan deity. Mulder (TDOT, 2:194) has pointed out the association of this deity with wine festivals in Judges 9:271
Abimelech then attempted to do away with anyone that might have a claim as ruler by killing all of his brothers but one in
Judges 9:5 And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and he killed his brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerub-Baal survived, because he hid himself.
and it seems “the lords of Shechem” were as opportunistic as Abimelech and in
Judges 9:6 All the lords of Shechem and Beth-Millo gathered, and they went and made Abimelech as king, near the oak of the pillar that is at Shechem.
If You Have Acted In Good Faith
There is one other surviving son of Gideon and he speaks out in the assembly of “the lords of Shechem” declares “if you have acted in good faith” in Judges 9:16 with the house of Gideon, “then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you” in Judges 9:19. But then, Jotham declares the evil that Abimelech has committed against his own family, the sons of Gideon, and their own participation with him in
Judges 9:18 but today you have risen against the house of my father and killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and you have made Abimelech, the son of his slave woman, a king over the lords of Shechem, because he is your relative—
Jotham, the surviving brother of Abimelech, now prophecy’s a curse that will come true, and one they have brought on themselves in
Judges 9:20 But if not, let a fire come out from Abimelech and let it devour the lords of Shechem and Beth-Millo; and let a fire come out from the lords of Shechem, and from Beth-Millo, and let it devour Abimelech.
That The Violence Done Would Be Avenged
You Must Act According to Opportunity
What You Have Seen Me Do, Quickly Do Also
Again, The Israelites Did Evil in the Eyes of Yahweh
They Removed The Foreign gods From Their Midst and Served Yahweh
Through all of this time, the Lord has delivered Israel as soon as they cry out to him, but now, as they cry out, the Lord says in
Judges 10:13–14 Yet you have abandoned me and served other gods. Therefore I will no longer deliver you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your trouble.”
It isn’t that the Lord doesn’t want to help them, it is that they are abusing his help. They call on the Lord when they have pain and trouble, then don’t care anything about him when times are good. God will not support their bad behavior any more. And Israel gets the point, they cry out to God to deliver them in Judges 9:15, but they take action so actually turn to the Lord in
Judges 10:16 So they removed the foreign gods from their midst and served Yahweh; and he could no longer bear the misery of Israel.
- Judges 9:1–11 I Am Your Bone and Your Flesh
- Judges 9:12–21 If You Have Acted In Good Faith
- Judges 10:10–18 They Removed The Foreign gods From Their Midst and Served Yahweh
- Judges 9:1-57
- Judges 10:1-18
- 1. Lewis, T. J. (1992). Baal-Berith (Deity). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 1, p. 550). New York: Doubleday.