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1Now Abimʹelech the son of Jerubbaʹal went to Shechem to his mother’s kinsmen and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family, 2“Say in the ears of all the citizens of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that all seventy of the sons of Jerubbaʹal rule over you, or that one rule over you?’ Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” 3And his mother’s kinsmen spoke all these words on his behalf in the ears of all the men of Shechem; and their hearts inclined to follow Abimʹelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” 4And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baʹal-beʹrith with which Abimʹelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5And he went to his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brothers the sons of Jerubbaʹal, seventy men, upon one stone; but Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaʹal was left, for he hid himself. 6And all the citizens of Shechem came together, and all Beth-millo, and they went and made Abimʹelech king, by the oak of the pillar at Shechem.

7When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerʹizim, and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them; and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ 9But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness, by which gods and men are honored, and go to sway over the trees?’ 10And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’ 11But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to sway over the trees?’ 12And the trees said to the vine, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’ 13But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine which cheers gods and men, and go to sway over the trees?’ 14Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘Come you, and reign over us.’ 15And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

16“Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and honor when you made Abimʹelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaʹal and his house, and have done to him as his deeds deserved—17for my father fought for you, and risked his life, and rescued you from the hand of Midʹian; 18and you have risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimʹelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the citizens of Shechem, because he is your kinsman—19if you then have acted in good faith and honor with Jerubbaʹal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimʹelech, and let him also rejoice in you; 20but if not, let fire come out from Abimʹelech, and devour the citizens of Shechem, and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the citizens of Shechem, and from Beth-millo, and devour Abimʹelech.” 21And Jotham ran away and fled, and went to Beer and dwelt there, for fear of Abimʹelech his brother.

22Abimʹelech ruled over Israel three years. 23And God sent an evil spirit between Abimʹelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimʹelech; 24that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaʹal might come and their blood be laid upon Abimʹelech their brother, who slew them, and upon the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to slay his brothers. 25And the men of Shechem put men in ambush against him on the mountain tops, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way; and it was told Abimʹelech.

26And Gaʹal the son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his kinsmen; and the men of Shechem put confidence in him. 27And they went out into the field, and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them, and held festival, and went into the house of their god, and ate and drank and reviled Abimʹelech. 28And Gaʹal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimʹelech, and who are we of Shechem, that we should serve him? Did not the son of Jerubbaʹal and Zebul his officer serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem? Why then should we serve him? 29Would that this people were under my hand! then I would remove Abimʹelech. I would say to Abimʹelech, ‘Increase your army, and come out.’ ”

30When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaʹal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. 31And he sent messengers to Abimʹelech at Aruʹmah, saying, “Behold, Gaʹal the son of Ebed and his kinsmen have come to Shechem, and they are stirring up the city against you. 32Now therefore, go by night, you and the men that are with you, and lie in wait in the fields. 33Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, rise early and rush upon the city; and when he and the men that are with him come out against you, you may do to them as occasion offers.”

34And Abimʹelech and all the men that were with him rose up by night, and laid wait against Shechem in four companies. 35And Gaʹal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city; and Abimʹelech and the men that were with him rose from the ambush. 36And when Gaʹal saw the men, he said to Zebul, “Look, men are coming down from the mountain tops!” And Zebul said to him, “You see the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.” 37Gaʹal spoke again and said, “Look, men are coming down from the center of the land, and one company is coming from the direction of the Diviners’ Oak.” 38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimʹelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the men whom you despised? Go out now and fight with them.” 39And Gaʹal went out at the head of the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimʹelech. 40And Abimʹelech chased him, and he fled before him; and many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. 41And Abimʹelech dwelt at Aruʹmah; and Zebul drove out Gaʹal and his kinsmen, so that they could not live on at Shechem.

42On the following day the men went out into the fields. And Abimʹelech was told. 43He took his men and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the fields; and he looked and saw the men coming out of the city, and he rose against them and slew them. 44Abimʹelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city, while the two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and slew them. 45And Abimʹelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city, and killed the people that were in it; and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

46When all the people of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-beʹrith. 47Abimʹelech was told that all the people of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48And Abimʹelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the men that were with him; and Abimʹelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bundle of brushwood, and took it up and laid it on his shoulder. And he said to the men that were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste to do, as I have done.” 49So every one of the people cut down his bundle and following Abimʹelech put it against the stronghold, and they set the stronghold on fire over them, so that all the people of the Tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women.

50Then Abimʹelech went to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. 51But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the people of the city fled to it, all the men and women, and shut themselves in; and they went to the roof of the tower. 52And Abimʹelech came to the tower, and fought against it, and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53And a certain woman threw an upper millstone upon Abimʹelech’s head, and crushed his skull. 54Then he called hastily to the young man his armor-bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’ ” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55And when the men of Israel saw that Abimʹelech was dead, they departed every man to his home. 56Thus God requited the crime of Abimʹelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers; 57and God also made all the wickedness of the men of Shechem fall back upon their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaʹal.

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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