Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JUDGES - Chapter 9

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Judges ix.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Abimelech was encouraged to contend with his brethren as he saw the indifference which the people shewed for them, and as he was of a bold enterprising temper. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Men, particularly to those who have the greatest influence. Hebrew Bahalim. (Menochius) --- The argumentation of Abimelech tended to prove that monarchy was the most perfect and eligible form of government, and that it would be hard upon the people, and greatly weaken the state, if seventy princes were to be supported in all the dignity of kings. But it was easy to discern the fallacy of his reasons. The dignity of judge was not hereditary, and it does not appear that the sons of Gedeon claimed it. If it had belonged to his family, the eldest would have been entitled to it, or any of the children, in preference to this son of the servant, ver. 18. He was, indeed, born at Sichem; but the others were by no means strangers: (Calmet) and what right had the men of this town to give a ruler to Israel? (Haydock) --- Flesh, an usual expression in Scripture to denote kindred, ver. 3., Genesis ii. 23., and 2 Kings xix. 13. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Weight. Hebrew, Chaldean, and Septuagint do not express what quantity of silver was given. (Menochius) --- But sicle on such occasions is generally supplied. (Calmet) --- Hence this sum would amount to little more than 8l. sterling. (Haydock) --- As this appears too insignificant a sum to maintain an army, (Calmet) some would supply pounds, each consisting of 24 sicles, or talents, which were equivalent to 3000 sicles. (Menochius) --- But this is without example, and the army of Abimelech was, probably, a company of banditti, or villains, who went with him to Ephra, to murder his brethren, and afterwards kept near his person. When he had got possession of his father's estate, and of the sovereign power, he found means to supply his wants. (Calmet) --- Baalberith. That is, Baal of the covenant, so called from the covenant they had made with Baal, chap. viii. 33. (Challoner) --- The custom of keeping money in temples was formerly very common. Almost all the cities of Greece sent money to the temple of Apollo, at Delphos, (Marsham, sĉc. xvii.) where the people of Rome and of Marseilles had also some. The different cities had likewise holes cut in the rock of Olympia, in Elis, for the same purpose. The public treasury was, almost universally, some temple. That of Rome was the temple of Saturn. --- Vagabonds. Hebrew, "empty and inconstant" (Calmet) people who had nothing to lose, and who would not embrace any proper method of getting a livelihood. (Haydock) --- Chaldean, "seekers." Septuagint, "stupid." Symmachus, "idle and of desperate fortunes, or frantic." (Calmet) --- Such people are generally at the head of every revolution, or, at least, are ready to follow the directions of some powerful and designing man; as but too many instances, both in ancient and modern times evince; which ought to be a caution for all to watch their motions. (Haydock)

Ver. 5. Stone where criminals were, perhaps, commonly executed, that he might seem to act with justice, (Tostat) or he might slaughter his brethren on the very altar, which had been erected to God by Gedeon, after he had thrown down that of Baal. By doing so, he would seem to vindicate the idol, and gratify the people of Sichem, who were zealous idolaters, ver. 46. Joatham escaped his fury, yet he, also, uses a round number, 70, when he says you have killed 70 men, ver. 18. (Calmet) --- Abimelech himself must also be deducted from the number. Thus we say the seventy interpreters, (Menochius) though the Greek interpreters of the Bible are supposed (Haydock) to have been 72. (Menochius) --- The history of nations is full of similar instances of cruelty. Ochus, king of Persia, killed his uncle, and 80 or 100 of his sons. Phraartees, son of Herod, king of the Parthians, by a concubine, slew his father and his 30 children. (Justin. x. and xlii.) --- The Turkish emperors have shewn equal barbarity on many occasions, and they still murder or confine all their brothers. (Serar. q. 6.)

Ver. 6. Mello. We know of no such city in the vicinity of Sichem. Hebrew, "all the house of Millo:" which some take to be the town-house of Sichem, full of the chief citizens, as Mello signifies "filled up;" (Vatable) or it might designate some part of the city which had been levelled, like the deep valley at Jerusalem, (3 Kings ix. 15.; Haydock) and where some powerful family, probably the father of Abimelech's mother, might dwell. (Calmet) --- This family would interest itself the most in the advancement of the tyrant, ver. 3. (Haydock) --- Oak. Hebrew, "the plain, or oak of the statue," (alluding to the monument which was left here by Josue, ver. 37., Josue xxiv. 26) or Septuagint, "of the station," as those of Sichem might assemble here to deliberate on public affairs, (Calmet) in memory of the solemn covenant between God and the people. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Stood on. As Abimelech was a figure of Antichrist, who will reign for a time, so Joatham denotes the pastors of the church, who shall stand up for the truth. (Worthington) --- Garizim. At the foot of this mountain Sichem was built. Joatham addressed the people of the city, probably during the absence of Abimelech, (Calmet) when, Josephus ([Antiquities?] v. 9.) says, a great festival was celebrated.

Ver. 8. Us. By this parable, Joatham expostulates with the men of Sichem, who had so basely requited the labours of Gedeon, and had given the preference to the son of a servant, who was of the most savage temper. (Haydock) --- In a spiritual sense, which the Fathers chiefly regard, heretics and schismatics act in this manner, and choose rather to be governed by those who will allow them to follow their passions, than by such governors as God has appointed, though the latter be endued with the grace of the Holy Ghost, and with all virtues, signified by the olive and other fruit trees. They prefer the bramble, or the worst dispositions, like Nemrod, Mahomet, Antichrist, &c., who, after persecuting the virtuous, and Catholics for a time, (2 Thessalonians ii.) will, in the end, prove their ruin, though they themselves be involved in the common destruction. "Fire shall rise (says Ven. Bede, q. 6.) against this bramble, Antichrist, and shall devour him, and all his together." (Worthington) --- The use of parables has been very general. (Menochius) --- Agrippa brought the Roman plebeians, who had retired to the sacred mount, to a sense of their duty, and to a love of mutual harmony with the nobles, by observing that the members once refused to supply the wants of the belly, because it did not labour like the rest. (Livy ii.) --- In the application of these parables, Maimonides justly remarks, that we must consider their general scope, and not pretend to explain every circumstance; (More. Neboc.) a remark which Origen had already made. Many things are only added for the sake of ornament. (Haydock) --- Thus we need not imagine that the people of Sichem offered the sovereign authority to many, who refused to accept of it, and at last only prevailed upon Abimelech. Gedeon had, indeed, rejected a similar offer, (chap. viii. 22.) and his other sons not endeavouring to retain the authority of their father, the Sichemites acceded to the petition of Abimelech, to anoint him king. This expression does not always imply a material unction, though such was used among the Jews. It signifies the granting of all the power of a king; in which sense it is applied to foreign princes, (Isaias lxv. 1.) and to Jesus Christ, (Daniel ix. 24.) who received the reality of that sovereign dominion, of which this unction was only a figure. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Leave. But, would this advancement prove any disadvantage? The king is bound to give himself up wholly for the good of the public, so that he must frequently be full of anxiety and care. (Calmet) --- Use of. The olive-tree is introduced, speaking in this manner, because oil was used, both in the worship of the true God, and in that of the false gods, whom the Sichemites served. (Challoner) --- The pagans burnt lamps in honour of their idols, and anointed their statues: unguentoque lares humescere nigro. (Prud., contra Sym. 1.) --- They also anointed their military standards at Rome. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiii. 3.) --- The same author observes, that "two sorts of liquor are very delightful to the bodies of men: wine to drink, and oil for the outside: intus vini, foris olei. (B. xiv. 22.) --- Men use oil to strengthen and foment their bodies, as well as to give them light. (Calmet) --- It spiritually denotes the grace of God, which establishes the peace of the soul, as the fig-tree signifies the sweetness of God's law, producing good works, and the vine shews forth those noble actions, which are performed without the affection of outward show; and which are therefore, most agreeable both to God and to men. (Worthington) --- Promoted. Some translate the Hebrew, "to put myself in motion for," Syriac, &c. We might also render, "which honoureth the gods, (or the judges) and men to come to be promoted among (or disquieted on account of) the trees."

Ver. 11. Sweetness. The fig is the sweetest of fruits, and is regarded as the symbol of sweetness. (Aristop.[Aristophanes?]; Bonfrere)

Ver. 13. Cheereth God and men. Wine is here represented as agreeable to God, because he had appointed it to be offered up with his sacrifices. But we are not obliged to take these words, spoken by the trees in Joatham's parable, according to the strict rigour of divinity; but only in a sense accommodated to the design of the parable expressed in the conclusion of it. (Challoner) --- The same word, Elohim, which is translated God may also signify any powerful man, as in ver. 9. (Haydock) --- Yet wine may be said to cheer God, in the same figurative sense, as the odour of victims is sweet and delightful to him. (Calmet) --- He is pleased with the devotion of men, and requires these things as a testimony of their love and fidelity. (Haydock) --- Joatham might speak according to the notions of the idolaters, who thought that their gods really fed on ambrosia and nectar, and were pleased with the smell of victims and of perfumes. That wine cheereth the heart of man needs no proof, Psalm ciii. 15. --- Tunc veniunt risus, tunc pauper cornua sumit.---Tunc dolor et curĉ rugaque frontis abit. (Ovid)

Ver. 14. Bramble. Septuagint rhamnos, "the white, or hawthorn." Some suppose that atad means "a wild rose, (Vatable) thistle," &c. (Calmet) --- It is here put for any base and ambitious man. (Worthington)

Ver. 15. Shadow or protection, Psalm xvi. 8., and Baruch i. 12. (Calmet) --- Joatham hints at the insolence of Abimelech, (Haydock) and foretels that he and his foolish subjects will soon be at variance, and destroy each other. Fire is often put for war. The people of Sichem began soon to despise their new king, and he made war upon them, and destroyed their city; though the people afterwards took ample revenge, ver. 20. (Calmet) --- Tyrants promise much, but their rage soon falls upon the more wealthy and powerful citizens, (Haydock) here signified by the cedars. (Menochius)

Ver. 18. You are. People are answerable for the injuries which they do not prevent, when they have it in their power. (Calmet) --- Many of the chief citizens of Sichem had assisted Abimelech, ver. 4. --- Brother. The ties of kindred could not hide their ingratitude and cruelty. (Haydock)

Ver. 20. Town of. Hebrew, "the house of Mello," ver. 6. (Calmet) --- The imprecation of Joatham was prophetical. He had not the smallest doubt but the people had done wrong; (Haydock) and the three different fruit-trees, which rejected the offer of promotion, represented all the virtuous Israelites, who knew that they could not lawfully assume the regal or judicial authority, without the divine call. Ezechiel (xvii. 24,) attributes knowledge to trees by the same figure of speech, as Joatham does here. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. Bera. Hebrew, Bar or Beera, "the well." There was a place of this name in the tribe of Ruben, where the Israelites encamped, Numbers xxi. 16. Bersabee, in the tribe of Juda, was another famous well, and it is probable that Joatham would retire to some distant place. (Haydock) --- St. Jerome mentions a Bera, eight miles north of Eleutheropolis; and Maundrell speaks of another, about 21 miles from Sichem, on the road to Jerusalem. The dominion of Abimelech did not extend far. (Calmet)

Ver. 23. Spirit. God permitted the spirit of discord to arise, like an executioner, (Calmet) to punish the sins both of the ruler and of his subjects. (Haydock) --- St. Augustine (q. 45.) observes, that God caused the people to be sorry for what they had done: but they afterwards proceeded to acts of violence and enmity, at the instigation of the devil, to whose advice they gave ear, in consequence of their former transgression. (Worthington) --- The common people began to open their eyes, and beheld the cruelty of Abimelech, and of some of the principal citizens, who had espoused his cause, with abhorrence. (Menochius) --- They reflected on the justice of Joatham's parable, which tended to rouse them not to suffer the tyrant to remain unpunished any longer. (Haydock) --- Detest him. Hebrew, "revolted against (or dealt treacherously with) Abimelech, (24) that the crime (or punishment of the murder) of the, &c., might come, and their blood be laid upon," &c. (Haydock) --- God permitted that Abimelech should be punished by those very men who had been the occasion of his sin. To obtain the sceptre over them, he had committed the most horrible cruelty. (Calmet)

Ver. 25. Coming. Abimelech resided at Ephra, having appointed Zebul governor of Sichem, from whom he received information of what was doing. The malcontents began to plunder his adherents; (Calmet) and as it was the time of vintage, they gave way to all the sallies which fury, heated by wine, can suggest; particularly after Gaal, a powerful man of the neighbourhood, came to put himself at their head, ver. 28. (Haydock)

Ver. 27. Cups. Such revellings were common in the days of vintage; (Isaias xvi. 10., and Jeremias xlviii. 33,) and they generally accompanied the heathenish sacrifices, chap. xvi. 24. They went to give thanks to their god, for having delivered them, (Calmet) as they thought, from the power of Abimelech. (Haydock)

Ver. 28. Sichem. Why should this ancient city be thus degraded? This son of Jerobaal deigns not to reside among us, but sets one of his servants over us! (Haydock) --- He mentions Jerobaal instead of Gedeon, to remind the people of the indignity formerly offered to their great idol, by the father of their present ruler. (Menochius) --- Hebrew may have another sense. "Who is Abimelech?....Is he not the son of Jerobaal, and Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hemor," &c. It seems that Gaal was of the race of Chanaan, by the manner in which he speaks of Hemor, whose history is given, Genesis xxxiv. Many of the same nations might still inhabit Sichem, (Calmet) which made the people so bold and zealous in the adoration of Baal. (Haydock) --- The insidious Gaal hence takes occasion to propose to his countrymen, that they had better acknowledge the authority of their ancient magistrates, who occupied the place of Hemor. (Calmet) --- But he immediately insinuates, that the most effectual method to expel the tyrant, would be to vest him with the sovereign authority. (Haydock) (ver. 29.) --- The party of Abimelech was now the weaker. (Calmet)

Ver. 31. Thee. Hebrew, "they besiege (Calmet) or fortify the city." (Haydock) --- The partizans of Gaal attacked those who were still favourable to Abimelech, and fortified themselves as much as possible, in those parts which they had already seized. (Vatable; Drusius) --- Or as tsarim means "enemies," we may as well translate, "lo, the enemies are in (or with) the city against thee." (Calmet)

Ver. 34. Places. Hebrew, "companies, (Haydock) or heads." He divided his army into four parts, over each of which he appointed a commander. (Calmet)

Ver. 36. To Zebul. It seems the latter had acted with such dissimulation, that Gaal supposed he had come over to his party. Zebul laughs at him, as if he were disturbed with groundless fears, (Haydock) in order that Abimelech may take him unawares. (Menochius)

Ver. 37. Midst. Hebrew Tabur, here signifies "a little hill, or the navel," which title is given to places which are elevated and in the centre of the country, Ezechiel xxxviii. 12. (Josephus, Jewish Wars iii. 2.) Varro mentions the lake of Cutilia, as the navel of Italy. The wood of Enna and Etolia are styled the navel of Sicily and of Greece, by Cicero and Livy. (Bonfrere; Calmet) --- Oak, which is probably mentioned, ver. 6. (Menochius) --- Hebrew, "another company comes by the oak or plain of Mehonenim," which may signify, "of the augurs." Septuagint, "of those who make observations," apoblepontón. (Calmet)

Ver. 41. Ruma may be the same place as Arimathea, between Joppe and Lidda. (St. Jerome) (Menochius) --- But this seems to be too remote from Sichem, (Haydock; Bonfrere) in the neighbourhood of which Abimelech halted, to give the citizens time to enter into themselves, (Calmet) and to open their gates to him without farther resistance. Gaal entered the city after his defeat: but was forced the next day to leave it by Zebul. Whereupon he was met by two divisions of Abimelech's army, which routed him, and pursued the fugitives, while the king marched straight to the city; and though he had a party within the walls, headed by Zebul, (Haydock) unless he was slain, (Calmet) the rest of the inhabitants made such a stout resistance, that the tyrant resolved to demolish the city, when he took it, at night. (Haydock)

Ver. 45. Sowed salt. To make the ground barren, and fit for nothing; (Challoner) and to testify his eternal hatred towards the place, as salt is the symbol of duration. See Deuteronomy xxix. 23., Sophonias ii. 9., and Jeremias xvii. 6. --- Salsa autem tellus & quĉ perhibetur amara---Frugibus infelix. (Virgil, Georg. ii.) Notwithstanding the fury of Abimelech, Sichem was afterwards rebuilt, and became as fertile as before. The city of Milan was destroyed and sowed with salt in 1162. (Sigon.) --- The houses of traitors were formerly treated in this manner in France, (Brantome) as was that of the admiral de Chatillon. (Calmet) --- See on this custom Bochart, animal. iii. 16. --- Some think it denoted that the ground might henceforth be cultivated, and grow corn where houses had stood. Salt is the source of fertility, if there be not too much of it. (Haydock)

Ver. 46. Tower. Serarius thinks it was the house of Mello, out of the city, ver. 6. (Menochius) --- It was the citadel, large enough to contain 1000 soldiers. They durst not, however, stop here to encounter Abimelech, but retired to the temple, either because it was still stronger and higher, or in hopes that they would be secure, on account of the veneration (Calmet) to which the place was entitled among the idolaters. --- Berith. Protestants, "they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith." Septuagint, "of the covenant." (Haydock) --- Where, &c., is added by way of explanation, (Calmet) except the word strong, which the Septuagint render ochuroma, "a fortress." The tower and temple seem to have been contiguous, since Abimelech, by setting fire to the tower, destroyed these people at the same time, ver. 49. (Haydock)

Ver. 48. Selmon. This mountain lay towards the Jordan, and was covered with trees and snow, Psalm lxvii. 16. (Menochius) --- Bough. Septuagint, "a burden or faggot of sticks." Josephus observes that they were dry. (Calmet)

Ver. 49. And so. Hebrew and Septuagint, "upon them, so that all the men of the tower of Sichem died also, about a thousand men and women." The sanctity of the place where they had taken refuge, made no impression upon the tyrant's mind, who was equally devoid of religion as of humanity. (Haydock)

Ver. 50. Thebes, about 13 miles from Sichem, towards Scythopolis. (Eusebius) --- Besieged. Hebrew, &c., "took," as the sequel shews, (ver. 52,) since Abimelech was killed, as he was attacking the tower or citadel, in the midst of the city. (Calmet)

Ver. 51. Battlements, or roof of the tower, which was flat. Hence the defendants hurled down stones, &c., upon the enemy.

Ver. 53. Above, or "of the upper millstone," according to the Hebrew and Septuagint. Pyrrhus met with a similar fate at Argos. Plutarch observes, (in Scylla) that the Lacedemonians did not like to attack walls, because the bravest men are there often slain by the greatest cowards. (Calmet) --- Hence Joab puts this advice in the mouth of David, that it is imprudent to come too near the walls, 2 Kings xi. 21. --- Skull, (cerebrum) "brain." Yet the tyrant's understanding was not perhaps so much impaired, as to excuse him for commanding his armour-bearer to kill him. (Menochius)

Ver. 54. Slew him. The ancient heroes were always attended by their armour-bearers. (Calmet) --- Marius ordered his servant to run him through, that he might not be exposed to the insults of his enemies; and V. Maximus (vi. 8,) greatly commends the servant for doing so. Nihil eorum pietati cedit, a quibus salus Dominorum protecta est. David was not of the same opinion, since he punished the Amalecite who pretended that he had rendered this service to Saul, 2 Kings i. 16. The Christian religion condemns both those who engage others to take away their life, and those who comply with the impious request. Hercules was affected in the same manner as Abimelech, when he found that he was to die by the malice of a woman. O turpe fatum! femina Herculeĉ necis---Auctor feratur. (Seneca) --- The Lacedemonians were not eager to besiege Argos, when they saw that the women were engaged in its defence. (Pausan. ii.) (Calmet) --- Notwithstanding the wicked precaution of Abimelech, what he so much feared took place; for Joab said, Did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, and slay him in Thebes? (2 Kings xi. 21.) His skull was so much fractured, that he had received a mortal wound: the sword only hastened his death. Thus was he justly punished with a stone, who had slaughtered 68 or 69 of his brethren upon one stone. (Haydock) --- He can only be considered as an usurper or tyrant, since he was neither chosen by God nor by the Israelites in general. Hence he is only said to have reigned at Sichem. (Cornelius a Lapide) --- He was going to extend his conquests over other cities and tribes, when he was slain at Thebes. (Josephus) (Haydock)


Bible Text & Cross-references:

Abimelech killeth his brethren. Joatham's parable. Gaal conspireth with the Sichemites against Abimelech, but is overcome. Abimelech destroyeth Sichem; but is killed at Thebes.

1 And Abimelech, *the son of Jerobaal, went to Sichem, to his mother's brethren, and spoke to them, and to all the kindred of his mother's father, saying:

2 Speak to all the men of Sichem: whether is better for you that seventy men, all the sons of Jerobaal, should rule over you, or that one man should rule over you? And withal, consider that I am your bone, and your flesh.

3 And his mother's brethren spoke of him to all the men of Sichem, all these words, and they inclined their hearts after Abimelech, saying: He is our brother:

4 And they gave him seventy weight of silver out of the temple of Baalberith: wherewith he hired to himself men that were needy, and vagabonds, and they followed him.

5 And he came to his father's house in Ephra, and slew his brethren, the sons of Jerobaal, seventy men, upon one stone: and there remained only Joatham, the youngest son of Jerobaal, who was hidden.

6 *And all the men of Sichem were gathered together, and all the families of the city of Mello: and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak that stood in Sichem.

7 This being told to Joatham, he went, and stood on the top of Mount Garizim: and lifting up his voice, he cried, and said: Hear me, ye men of Sichem, so may God hear you.

8 The trees went to anoint a king over them: and they said to the olive-tree: Reign thou over us.

9 And it answered: Can I leave my fatness, which both gods and men make use of, to come to be promoted among the trees?

10 And the trees said to the fig-tree: Come thou and reign over us.

11 And it answered them: Can I leave my sweetness, and my delicious fruits, and go to be promoted among the other trees?

12 And the trees said to the vine: Come thou and reign over us.

13 And it answered them: Can I forsake my wine, that cheereth God and men, and be promoted among the other trees?

14 And all the trees said to the bramble: Come thou and reign over us.

15 And it answered them: If, indeed, you mean to make me king, come ye, and rest under my shadow: but if you mean it not, let fire come out from the bramble, and devour the cedars of Libanus.

16 Now, therefore, if you have done well, and without sin, in appointing Abimelech king over you, and have dealt well with Jerobaal, and with his house, and have made a suitable return for the benefits of him who fought for you,

17 And exposed his life to dangers, to deliver you from the hand of Madian,

18 And you are now risen up against my father's house, and have killed his sons, seventy men, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, king over the inhabitants of Sichem, because he is your brother:

19 If therefore you have dealt well, and without fault, with Jerobaal and his house, rejoice ye, this day, in Abimelech, and may he rejoice in you.

20 But if unjustly: let fire come out from him, and consume the inhabitants of Sichem, and the town of Mello: and let fire come out from the men of Sichem, and from the town of Mello, and devour Abimelech.

21 And when he had said thus, he fled, and went into Bera: and dwelt there for fear of Abimelech, his brother.

22 So Abimelech reigned over Israel three years.

23 And the Lord sent a very evil spirit between Abimelech and the inhabitants of Sichem; who began to detest him,

24 And to lay the crime of the murder of the seventy sons of Jerobaal, and the shedding of their blood, upon Abimelech, their brother, and upon the rest of the princes of the Sichemites, who aided him.

25 And they set an ambush against him on the top of the mountains: and while they waited for his coming, they committed robberies, taking spoils of all that passed by: and it was told Abimelech.

26 And Gaal, the son of Obed, came with his brethren, and went over to Sichem. And the inhabitants of Sichem, taking courage at his coming,

27 Went out into the fields, wasting the vineyards, and treading down the grapes: and singing and dancing, they went into the temple of their god, and in their banquets and cups they cursed Abimelech.

28 And Gaal, the son of Obed, cried: Who is Abimelech, and what is Sichem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerobaal, and hath made Zebul, his servant, ruler over the men of Emor, the father of Sichem? Why then shall we serve him?

29 Would to God that some man would put this people under my hand, that I might remove Abimelech out of the way. And it was said to Abimelech: Gather together the multitude of an army, and come.

30 For Zebul, the ruler of the city, hearing the words of Gaal, the son of Obed, was very angry,

31 And sent messengers privately to Abimelech, saying: Behold, Gaal, the son of Obed, is come into Sichem with his brethren, and endeavoureth to set the city against thee.

32 Arise, therefore, in the night, with the people that is with thee, and lie hid in the field:

33 And betimes in the morning, at sun-rising, set upon the city, and when he shall come out against thee, with his people, do to him what thou shalt be able.

34 Abimelech, therefore, arose with all his army, by night, and laid ambushes near Sichem in four places.

35 And Gaal, the son of Obed, went out, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city. And Abimelech rose up, and all his army with him, from the places of the ambushes.

36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul: Behold, a multitude cometh down from the mountains. And he answered him: Thou seest the shadows of the mountains as if they were the heads of men, and this is thy mistake.

37 Again Gaal said: Behold, there cometh people down from the midst of the land, and one troop cometh by the way that looketh towards the oak.

38 And Zebul said to him: Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst: Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? Is not this the people which thou didst despise? Go out, and fight against him.

39 So Gaal went out, in the sight of the people of Sichem, and fought against Abimelech,

40 Who chased and put him to flight, and drove him to the city: and many were slain of his people, even to the gate of the city:

41 And Abimelech sat down in Ruma: but Zebul drove Gaal, and his companions, out of the city, and would not suffer them to abide in it.

42 So the day following the people went out into the field. And it was told Abimelech,

43 And he took his army, and divided it into three companies, and laid ambushes in the fields. And seeing that the people came out of the city, he arose, and set upon them

44 With his own company, assaulting and besieging the city: whilst the two other companies chased the enemies that were scattered about the field.

45 And Abimelech assaulted the city all that day: and took it, and killed the inhabitants thereof, and demolished it, so that he sowed salt in it.

46 And when they who dwelt in the tower of Sichem, had heard this, they went into the temple of their god Berith, where they had made a covenant with him, and from thence the place had taken its name, and it was exceeding strong.

47 Abimelech also hearing that the men of the tower of Sichem were gathered together,

48 Went up into Mount Selmon, he and all his people with him: and taking an ax, he cut down the bough of a tree, and laying it on his shoulder, and carrying it, he said to his companions: What you see me do, do ye out of hand.

49 So they cut down boughs from the trees, every man as fast as he could, and followed their leader. And surrounding the fort, they set it on fire: and so it came to pass, that with the smoke and with the fire a thousand persons were killed, men and women together, of the inhabitants of the tower of Sichem.

50 Then Abimelech, departing from thence, came to the town of Thebes, which he surrounded and besieged with his army.

51 And there was in the midst of the city a high tower, to which both the men and the women were fled together, and all the princes of the city, and having shut and strongly barred the gate, they stood upon the battlements of the tower to defend themselves.

52 And Abimelech, coming near the tower, fought stoutly: and approaching to the gate, endeavoured to set fire to it:

53 *And behold, a certain woman casting a piece of a millstone from above, dashed it against the head of Abimelech, and broke his skull.

54 *And he called hastily to his armour-bearer, and said to him: Draw thy sword, and kill me: lest it should be said that I was slain by a woman. He did as he was commanded, and slew him.

55 And when he was dead, all the men of Israel that were with him, returned to their homes.

56 And God repaid the evil, that Abimelech had done against his father, killing his seventy brethren.

57 The Sichemites also were rewarded for what they had done, and the curse of Joatham, the son of Jerobaal, came upon them.



1: Year of the World 2768, Year before Christ 1236.

6: Year of the World 2769, Year before Christ 1235.

53: 2 Kings xi. 21.

54: 1 Kings xxxi. 4.; 1 Paralipomenon x. 4.