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Bible Commentaries
Judges 9

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

We are not told how soon after the death of Gideon these events happened. There must have been time for the apostacy and establishment of Baal-worship, and for the development of ill-will between Abimelech and his brethren.

Verse 2

The men of Shechem - literally, “the masters.” Compare Joshua 24:11; 1 Samuel 23:11-12.

Verse 3

The Ephraimite pride revolted from Abi-ezrite rulers, and inclined them to one who was a Shechemite by birth. (Compare the same spirit in the time of David and Rehoboam, 2 Samuel 20:1; 1 Kings 12:16.)

Verse 5

Such wholesale slaughters have always been common in Eastern monarchies, and are among the fruits of polygamy.

Verse 6

Millo must have been a fortified place close to, but separate from, Shechem, and perhaps the same as the tower of Shechem mentioned in Judges 9:46-47. The building or enlarging of the better-known Millo, at Jerusalem was one of Solomon’s great works 1 Kings 9:15, 1 Kings 9:24. The population dwelling in Millo though perhaps numerically small, had great weight from possessing the stronghold. Their giving Abimelech the title of king indicates the strong Canaanite influence at Shechem. All the Canaanite chiefs were called kings, but it was a title hitherto unknown in Israel. This title had not been named by those Israelites who offered to make Gideon their hereditary ruler Judges 8:22-23.

The plain of the pillar ... - Rather “the oak of the garrison which is in Shechem.” The oak in question was probably called the “garrison oak,” from a garrison being stationed near it.

Verse 7

The top of Mount Gerizim - The ancient Shechem was perhaps situated there. The population of Shechem is supposed to have been keeping some public festival outside the city when Jotham addressed them.

Verses 8-20

These verses contain the interpretation of the fable. In them Jotham points out the base ingratitude of the people in raising Abimelech upon the ruin of Gideon’s house, and foretells the retribution which would fall upon both parties.

Verse 22

Had reigned - Rather, “had ruled.” It is not the phrase used in Judges 9:6. It looks as if the Shechemites alone had made him king, and the rest of Israel had submitted to his dominion, without allowing his title of king.

Verse 26

It does not appear who Gaal, son of Ebed, was; he may have been an officer sent by Abimelech with a force to bring the men of Shechem back to their allegiance, but who tried to turn the rebellion to his own account. He got into Shechem with a band of men, “his brethren,” unopposed by Zebul, Abimelech’s officer, and soon gained the confidence of the Shechemites,

Verses 27-29

Shechem is another designation of Abimelech. Sheehem means the son and heir of Sheehem, Abimelech’s mother being a Canaanite Judges 9:18.

Verse 31

Privily - See the margin. The word is probably the name of a place in “Tormah”, some think the same as “Arumah” Judges 9:41. Zebul was faithful to Abimelech, but dissembled his sentiments, from being too weak to oppose Gaal, until Abimelech came with his army Judges 9:38.

Verse 37

The plain of Meonenim - Translate “the oak of the soothsayers” (see the margin). Some well-known oak, so called, but which is not mentioned elsewhere.

Verse 42

After Gaal’s expulsion, “the people went out into the field,” either to complete the vintage, or for some other agricultural operation. “They” (Zebul and his party) sent word of this to Abimelech.

Verse 44

This verse explains the purpose of both the present and the former division of Abimelech’s forces into several companies, namely, that while some of the companies attacked the men of Shechem in the field, another company, starting from their ambush, might occupy the approach to the city gate, and so cut off their retreat.

Verse 45

Sowed it with salt - Expressing by this action his hatred, and his wish, that when utterly destroyed as a city, it might not even be a fruitful field. Salt is the emblem of barrenness (see the marginal references).

Verse 46

An hold of the house of the god Berith - As combining the advantages of a “sanctuary” (compare 1 Kings 2:28) and a fortress. The word rendered “hold” occurs elsewhere only in 1 Samuel 13:6, where it is rendered “high-place.” Its exact signification is uncertain.

Verse 48

Zalmon - A lofty and thickly-wooded hill, as the etymology of the name (“shady”) implies, in the immediate neighborhood of Shechem: perhaps the same as Ebal. The setting fire to the hold, where the men of Shechem were all crowded together, with their wives and children, was the literal fulfillment of Jotham’s curse in Judges 9:20.

Verse 50

The men of Thebez (modern Tubas) had, doubtless, joined the Shechemites in their rebellion against Abimelech.

Verse 52

Went hard unto the door ... - i. e. went close to the door. An act of manifest danger, seeing the roof was covered with persons who would be likely to throw down missiles of all sorts on the heads of their assailants. But the hatred of Abimelech, and his thirst for revenge, made him despise danger.

Verse 53

The phrase “all” to is now obsolete, and means “quite,” “entirely,” as in Chaucer, Spenser, and Milton.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Judges 9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/judges-9.html. 1870.
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