Add parallel Print Page Options

Abimelech Kills His Brothers

And (A)Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s [a]relatives and spoke to them and to the whole family of the household of his mother’s father, saying, “Speak, now, in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that (B)seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am (C)your bone and your flesh.” And his mother’s [b]relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the lords of Shechem; and [c]they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is (D)our [d]relative.” So they gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of (E)Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him. Then he came to his father’s house at Ophrah and (F)killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, (G)seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. Then all the lords of Shechem and all [e]Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the [f]oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.

Then they told Jotham, so he went and stood on the top of (H)Mount Gerizim and lifted his voice and called out. Thus he said to them, “Listen to me, O lords of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees surely went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness, with [g]which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good produce and go to wave over the trees?’ 12 Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which makes God and men glad, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in [h]truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’

16 “So now, if you have dealt in [i]truth and integrity and made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with (I)Jerubbaal and his house and [j]have dealt with him according to the bountiful works of his hands— 17 for my father fought for you and [k]risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian; 18 but you have risen against my father’s house today and have killed (J)his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, (K)the son of his maidservant, king over the lords of Shechem, because he is your [l]relative— 19 if then you have dealt in [m]truth and integrity with Jerubbaal and his house this day, be glad in Abimelech, and let him also be glad in you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and [n]Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the lords of Shechem and from [o]Beth-millo and consume Abimelech.” 21 Then Jotham escaped and fled and went to Beer and remained there because of Abimelech his brother.

Zebul Deceives Abimelech

22 And Abimelech governed over Israel three years. 23 (L)Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem; and the lords of Shechem (M)dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 (N)so that the violence [p]done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and (O)their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. 25 And the lords of Shechem set [q]men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Abimelech.

26 Then Gaal the son of Ebed came with his [r]relatives, and they crossed over into Shechem; and the lords of Shechem put their trust in him. 27 And they went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards and trod them and celebrated a [s]festival; and they came into the house of (P)their god and ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. 28 Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is Zebul not his [t]officer? Serve the men of (Q)Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29 [u](R)Would, therefore, that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech.” And he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out.”

30 Then Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, and his anger burned. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech [v]deceitfully, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his [w]relatives have come to Shechem; and behold, they are [x]stirring up the city against you. 32 So now, arise by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33 And it will be in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and behold, he and the people who are with him will come out against you, and you shall (S)do to them [y]whatever your hand finds pleasing.”

34 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him arose by night and lay in wait against Shechem in four [z]companies. 35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the city gate; and Abimelech and the people who were with him arose from the ambush. 36 Then Gaal saw the people and said to Zebul, “Behold, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.” 37 Yet Gaal spoke again and said, “Behold, people are coming down from (T)the [aa]highest part of the land, and one [ab]company comes by the way of [ac]the soothsayers’ [ad]oak.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your [ae]boasting now with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Is this not the people whom you rejected? Go out now and fight with them!” 39 So Gaal went out before the lords of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech pursued him, and he fled before him; and many fell slain up to the entrance of the gate. 41 Then Abimelech remained at Arumah, but Zebul drove out Gaal and his [af]relatives so that they could not remain in Shechem.

42 Now it happened the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was told to Abimelech. 43 So he took [ag]his people and divided them into three [ah]companies and lay in wait in the field; then he looked, and behold, the people were coming out from the city. So he arose against them and struck them down. 44 Then Abimelech and the [ai]company who was with him rushed forward and stood in the entrance of the city gate; but the other two [aj]companies rushed upon all who were in the field and struck them down. 45 So Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he (U)tore the city down and sowed it with salt.

46 Then all the lords of the tower of Shechem heard of it, and they entered the inner chamber of the [ak]temple of (V)El-berith. 47 And it was told to Abimelech that all the lords of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech went up to Mount (W)Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took [al]an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees and lifted it and laid it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, hurry and do [am]likewise.” 49 And all the people also cut down each one his branch and followed Abimelech and put them on the inner chamber and set the inner chamber on fire over those inside, so that all the men of the tower of Shechem also died, about one thousand men and women.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he camped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the lords of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower. 52 So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 But (X)a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, and she smashed his skull. 54 Then (Y)he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and put me to death, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So [an]the young man pierced him through, and he died. 55 Then the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, so each went away to his [ao]home. 56 Thus (Z)God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57 God also returned all the evil of the men of Shechem on their own heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came [ap]upon them.


  1. Judges 9:1 Lit brothers
  2. Judges 9:3 Lit brothers
  3. Judges 9:3 Lit their hearts inclined after
  4. Judges 9:3 Lit brother
  5. Judges 9:6 Or the house of Millo
  6. Judges 9:6 Or terebinth
  7. Judges 9:9 Lit which by me
  8. Judges 9:15 Or sincerity
  9. Judges 9:16 Or sincerity
  10. Judges 9:16 Lit if you have
  11. Judges 9:17 Lit cast his soul in front
  12. Judges 9:18 Lit brother
  13. Judges 9:19 Or sincerity
  14. Judges 9:20 Or the house of Millo
  15. Judges 9:20 Or the house of Millo
  16. Judges 9:24 Lit of the seventy
  17. Judges 9:25 Lit liers-in-wait for
  18. Judges 9:26 Lit brothers
  19. Judges 9:27 Lit rejoicing
  20. Judges 9:28 Lit overseer
  21. Judges 9:29 Lit And who will give this people into my hand
  22. Judges 9:31 Or in Tormah
  23. Judges 9:31 Lit brothers
  24. Judges 9:31 Lit besieging
  25. Judges 9:33 Lit as your hand can find
  26. Judges 9:34 Lit heads
  27. Judges 9:37 Or center
  28. Judges 9:37 Lit head
  29. Judges 9:37 Heb Elommeonenim
  30. Judges 9:37 Or terebinth
  31. Judges 9:38 Lit mouth
  32. Judges 9:41 Lit brothers
  33. Judges 9:43 Lit the
  34. Judges 9:43 Lit heads
  35. Judges 9:44 Singular with Gr; Heb plural, heads
  36. Judges 9:44 Lit heads
  37. Judges 9:46 Lit house
  38. Judges 9:48 Lit the axes
  39. Judges 9:48 Lit like me
  40. Judges 9:54 Lit his
  41. Judges 9:55 Lit place
  42. Judges 9:57 Lit to