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Jerubbaal’s son Abimelech went to his mother’s family at Shechem. He said to them and to all those of the family of his mother’s father, “Speak to all the leaders of Shechem. Say to them, ‘Which is better for you? Should all seventy of Jerubbaal’s sons rule over you? Or should one man rule over you? Remember that I am your own bone and flesh.’” So his mother’s family spoke all these words for him in the ears of the leaders of Shechem. And they decided to follow Abimelech. For they said, “He is our brother.” They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the family of Baal-berith. Abimelech used the money to hire wild men of no worth who followed him. Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah. And he killed his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal. He killed all seventy men upon one stone. But Jerubbaal’s youngest son Jotham was left alive, because he hid himself. Then all the men of Shechem and of Beth-millo gathered together. They went and made Abimelech king, by the tree that had been set up in Shechem.

When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He called out to them in a loud voice, “Listen to me, O men of Shechem. So God may listen to you. One time the trees went out to choose a king to rule them. They said to the olive tree, ‘Rule over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my riches of oil by which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and rule over us!’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my good sweet fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ 12 So the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and rule over us!’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Should I leave my new wine which makes God and men happy, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the thorn bush, ‘You come and rule over us!’ 15 And the thorn bush said to the trees, ‘If in truth you are choosing me as king over you, come and be safe in my shadow. But if not, may fire come out of the thorn bush and burn up the tall trees of Lebanon.’

16 “Now it may be that you have acted in truth and honor in making Abimelech king. It may be that you have acted well toward Jerubbaal and his house, by paying him for what he did. 17 For my father fought for you. He put his life in danger to set you free from the power of Midian. 18 But you have gone against my father’s house today. You have killed seventy of his sons on one stone. Abimelech is the son of my father’s woman servant. And you have made him king over the people of Shechem, because he is your brother. 19 If you have acted in truth and honor toward Jerubbaal and his house today, then be happy with Abimelech. And let him be happy with you. 20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and burn up the people of Shechem and Beth-millo. Then let it burn up Abimelech.” 21 Jotham ran away from them and went to Beer. He stayed there, because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.

22 Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. 23 Then God sent a bad spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The men of Shechem were not faithful to Abimelech. 24 God did this to punish Abimelech and the men of Shechem, because the seventy sons of Jerubbaal were killed by their brother Abimelech. And the men of Shechem gave him the strength to do it. 25 The men of Shechem went against Abimelech by hiding men on the mountain tops. They robbed all who passed by them on the road. Abimelech was told about it.

26 Now Gaal the son of Ebed moved with his family into Shechem. And the men of Shechem put their trust in him. 27 They went out into the field and gathered the grapes of their vines and crushed them. Then they had a special supper in the house of their god. They ate and drank and wished bad to come to Abimelech. 28 Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech? And who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal? Is not Zebul his leader? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem, but why should we serve Abimelech? 29 If only these people were under my rule! Then I would send Abimelech away. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Make your army strong, and come out.’”

30 When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, he was very angry. 31 He sent men to bring news to Abimelech in secret. They said, “See, Gaal the son of Ebed has come to Shechem with his family. They are turning the city against you. 32 So you and the people who are with you get up during the night and hide in the field. 33 Then get up early in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, and rush against the city. When Gaal and the people who are with him come out against you, do whatever you can to them.”

34 So Abimelech and all who were with him got up during the night. They hid and waited in four groups to fight against Shechem. 35 Gaal the son of Ebed came out and stood in the city gate. And Abimelech and the people who were with him came out of their hiding places. 36 When Gaal saw the men, he said to Zebul, “See, men are coming down from the mountain tops!” But Zebul said to him, “It is the shadow of the mountains that looks like men to you.” 37 Gaal spoke again, saying, “See, men are coming down from the highest part of the land. One group is coming on the way from the oak tree of those who tell the future.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your proud talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the men whom you hated? Go out now and fight with them!” 39 So Gaal went out in front of the leaders of Shechem and fought with Abimelech. 40 Abimelech went after Gaal. And Gaal ran away from him. Many were hurt and fell all the way to the gate. 41 Abimelech stayed at Arumah. But Zebul drove out Gaal and his family so they could not stay in Shechem.

42 The men went out to the field the next day and told Abimelech. 43 So he took his men and divided them into three groups, and they waited in the field. When he saw Gaal’s people coming out of the city, Abimelech went against them and killed them. 44 Abimelech and the group with him rushed and stood in the city gate. The other two groups then rushed against all who were in the field and killed them. 45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He took the city and killed the people who were in it. Then he destroyed the city and covered it with salt.

46 All the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard about it. And they went into the inside room of the house of the god of El-berith. 47 Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech and all who were with him went up to Mount Zalmon. Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees. Then he lifted it onto his shoulder. He said to the men who were with him, “Hurry and do what you have seen me do.” 49 So each of the men cut down his branch also, and followed Abimelech. They put the branches around the inside room and set it on fire. So all the men of the tower of Shechem died. There were about 1,000 men and women in all.

50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez. He fought against it and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the center of the city. All the men and women and leaders of the city ran to it and shut themselves in. And they went up on the roof of the tower. 52 Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it. He went near the door of the building to burn it with fire. 53 But a certain woman threw a grain-crushing stone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Abimelech was quick to call the young man who carried his heavy battle-clothes, saying, “Take your sword and kill me. Or else it will be said that a woman killed me.” So the young man killed him with a sword. 55 When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each man went home. 56 So God punished Abimelech for the sin he had done against his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 God punished the men of Shechem for all their sin. The words that Jotham the son of Jerubbaal spoke against them came true.