Judges, Chapter 9

- ח ה ו -

Abimelech Overtakes Shechem

Abimelech is one of Gideon’s sons. He turns to his family in Shechem and proposes to kill his brothers so as to position himself as king. They give him a sum of money. With it, he hires mercenaries to kill all of his brothers, thus ensuring that his position will not be challenged. However, one brother survivesJotham. When Jothan hears about the murder of his brothers, he climbs up Mount Gerizim and tells the people of Shechem a parable. In the parable, the trees seek to anoint a king. They turn to all worthy candidates—the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine. However, they all decline the offer, arguing that they have more important things to do than rule. Finally, the trees turn to the bramble. This last of nominees agrees, even though it can bear no fruit and its thorns catch fire easily. Their king will only bring them destruction.

Similarly, the people who anointed Abimelech and indulged his murderous actions will suffer the consequences of a violent and devastating civil war. Abimelech raids Shechem and kills its residents for having turned their backs on him. He then scatters salt around the city and casts a curse that it may never be rebuilt. Abimelech is killed during an attempt to suppress a revolt. The first attempt to establish an Israelite monarchy ends in complete failure. Abimelech is driven by envy and a lust for power. He acts independently, without the authority of God. His pursuit of honor and prestige ultimately results in loss and destruction.

“Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which arethreescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh” (Judges 9:2)

“notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left” (Judges 9:5)

Self-control relates to the principle of restriction; it is the ability to feel and notice without responding reactively.