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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-57

Chapter 9

Now here's what happened. After the death of Gideon, this Abimelech who was the son of his concubine in Shechem. Now you know, they used to say of the sailors "a girl in every port." Well, Gideon had probably a concubine in every city and so in Shechem this concubine who had born this fellow Abimelech.

Abimelech came to the men of Shechem and he said, "Look, is it better that one man rule over you or seventy that rule over you? One man who is your brother who comes right of Shechem, who understands your needs and all or all of the sons of Jerubbaal? What's best?"

And so he convinced the men of Shechem that they should come against the sons of Gideon and wipe them all out. And so Abimelech led a group of vain fellows and they came to the houses of Gideon's sons and they wiped them all out with the exception of just one of his sons, Jotham. But all of the other sons of Gideon were killed. A very reprehensible action on the part of Jerubbaal, unconscionable.

But Jotham hid himself. And all of the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and they went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem. Now when Jotham heard that they had made Abimelech king, he went to the top of mount Gerizim ( Judges 9:5-7 ),

Which is above the city of Shechem and it is sort of a natural amphitheater. From the top of Gerizim you can call down in the valley and they can hear you quite plainly, sort of a natural amphitheater. It's an interesting thing to me how far sound travels over there in that land. You think of Jesus speaking to a crowd of ten thousand people and they're all able to hear Him and that's without amplifying systems. And it sounds sort of farfetched or preposterous but there are many places in the land where the acoustics are just natural; acoustics are really fantastic.

If you're standing up on the Herodium there could be children playing two miles away and you can hear their conversations to each other. That's not an exaggeration. You that go with me this year, I'll prove it to you, but the acoustics are tremendous. The sound travels. They don't have their sound pollution like we have here. Here sound decibels are rising year by year and all of the sounds that we're subjected to the sound pollution. Over there you can hear children miles away, dogs barking and so forth. As the children are playing you hear them laughing, screaming and all a couple miles away. And its sound just really carries over there. And I don't know what phenomena it is that creates it but sound would have to carry for Jesus to be able to address such large multitudes of people.

Even down by the beach there is Caesarea right near the Mediterranean in an amphitheater that is there that was built by the Romans. I can stand on the stage and drop a pin and you can hear it sitting up there in the amphitheater with several hundred people. The sound just carries very well. The acoustics are quite interesting in many areas of the land. And the Sea of Galilee, same thing, the sound really carries. Of course, that's where Jesus was addressing so many people, and also they're at the Temple Mount where Jesus addressed so many people.

So this Jotham, son of Gideon, the one that Abimelech didn't kill, went up to the top of Mount Gerizim, and here is Shechem down below. Now Mount Gerizim is a pretty good, you know, climb to get up to the top of the mountain and he knew that he had a good running distance on the guy. So he stands up there and really tells them off and rebukes them for what they have done.

Actually, he preaches sort of a parabolic type of a message. He gives a parable how that the trees of the forest came to the olive tree and they said, "Rule over us."

And the olive tree said, "Should I leave my fatness and so forth and rule over you? No way."

So they came to the fig trees and said, "Rule over us." And the fig tree said unto them, "Should I forsake my sweetness, my good fruit? No way."

And so they came to the vine and said, "Rule over us."

"Should I forsake the wine and so forth that cheers God and man to rule you? No way."

And so they came to the bramble and said, "Come rule over us." Now of course, he's calling, in an essence this Abimelech a bramble and you guys have, you know, you're settling for a bramble to rule over you.

And having finished his rebuke and his speech, rebuking them for the evil that they have recompensed to Gideon. Here Gideon had become your deliverer and he freed you from the hand of the Midianites and now this is the way you treat, you know, Gideon and his offspring. And he gave him a real rebuke and then he took off running as fast as he could go. And as I say, from the top of Gerizim you've got a good lead on anybody that might want to chase you. So, Jotham got away from them. Now he said, You have done a good thing, great,

rejoice in Abimelech: But if not, then let fire come forth from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and the fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech ( Judges 9:19-20 ).

In other words, let there come strife between the men of Shechem and Abimelech.

And Jotham ran away, and he fled, to Beer, and dwelt there, for the fear of Abimelech his brother. Now Abimelech reigned for three years. And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: In order that the cruelty that was done by Abimelech might be avenged ( Judges 9:21-24 ),

And so the men of Shechem began to set an ambush for him and the top of the mountains, or for the people, and they robbed all of those that were going along that way and it was told to Abimelech.

And then this guy Gaal, sort of a big mouth kind of a guy, said to the men, he came with his brothers and he went over to Shechem. And he said to the men of Shechem,

[Now look fellas] who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve them? is he not the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him? ( Judges 9:28 )

In other words, he's an outsider. We ought to be serving Hamor and his family, let them be the kings. And he said to God the people were under my rule, because I can really do a good job here, you know. Who's Abimelech? And so he said if you would just commit yourself to me I would remove Abimelech.

And so he called to Abimelech and said, Increase your army. And so when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privately, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers are come to Shechem; and they are fortifying the city against you. Now therefore come by night, and the people that are with you, and lie in wait in the field: And it shall be, in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then may you do to them as you find occasion. So Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait at Shechem and four companies. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people who were with him, and lying there in wait. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains, And Zebul said, No that's just an illusion, [that's just the sun rising and the sun coming down, it looks like people,] just an illusion that you see. So Gaal spake again and said, Look there are people coming down by the middle of the land, another company is coming along the plain of Meonenim. And then said Zebul unto him, Okay where's your mouth now, and you said, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that you have despised? go out, now, and fight with them ( Judges 9:29-38 ).

And so in one of those instances where positions, "Okay, now where's your mouth man? You've been saying who's Abimelech? There he is. Go out and take him on. You said, you know, if he were just here I'd handle him."

So Abimelech chased him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even to the entering of the gate. And Abimelech dwelt in Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal with his brothers, that they should not dwell in Shechem. And it came to pass on the next day, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech. And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and he laid in wait in the field, and he looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; he rose up against them, and smote them. And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood at the entering of the gate of the city: and two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and they killed them. And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and killed the people that were therein, and he beat down the city, and sowed it with salt. And when all of the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they had entered into the fortress of the house that god Berith. It was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. Abimelech got up to mount Zalmon, with his people; and he began to with his axe to cut down the boughs from the trees, he laid them on his shoulder, and said to the people, Follow my example. So they all cut down the boughs, and he came to the tower and he laid these boughs around, and set fire to them ( Judges 9:40-49 );

And actually cremated the people who had sought refuge there in the tower.

about a thousand men and women ( Judges 9:49 ).

So it was a pretty good-sized tower, actually.

And so then he went to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez. And in Thebez there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women, fled to the tower there in Thebez. And so Abimelech came to the tower, he fought against it, he was up against the door trying to burn it with fire. And a certain woman took a piece of a millstone ( Judges 9:50-53 )

Now millstones are sort of lava kinds of rock and there are millstones-I've seen them four feet high. And they have tracks in which the millstone rolls. It is chiseled out to where it's round, has a hole in the middle of it and then the stick or the post would go through the center of the millstone and it would roll. And they would often hook an oxen to it and they had this stone groove that went around in a circle. And the oxen, as he would go around, would pull the stick and it would cause this millstone to go around the groove. And the ladies would come and just pour their wheat in the little groove and as the millstone would go by and it'd grind the wheat into flour. And so they'd have their stone ground wheat by these millstones. But these millstones, probably, many of them weigh, that I have seen, weigh as much as four, five hundred pounds.

Interesting that Jesus said concerning teachers that would destroy the faith in the heart of a child, it would be better for them if a millstone were hung around their neck and they were tossed in the Sea of Galilee that they to offend one of these little children. "Now gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon this little child." Hey, no he wasn't so meek and mild. He was pretty tough on these false teachers and those that would destroy faith in the heart of a child. He said, "Man, you know, put them in concrete and dump them in the ocean you know." He would've been a good Mafia exterminator. Really he said, "Put a millstone on her neck, throw him in the sea." You'd never come up for sure.

Well now there was this woman in the tower and she had a piece of a millstone. Here's old Abimelech down there, you know, trying to set the door on fire and she "knock" drops the millstone and cracks his skull. And so he's lying there and he says to his armourbearer, "Quick, thrust me through. I don't want them, I don't want them to say a woman killed me." Pride, look what it would do, even when you're dying, you know. What difference does it make? And so the guy thrust him through anyhow and so they didn't say a woman killed him. So Abimelech was wiped out. And the evil that he did against Gideon's sons was sort of recompensed. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/judges-9.html. 2014.
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