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Judges -- Chapter 4

[9] Then Abimelek, a son of Gideon, went to his mother's brothers in Shechem and said to them, "Ask the people of Shechem, 'Which is better, to have all seventy of Gideon's sons rule over you or just one man?' Remember, I am your flesh and blood!"

When the brothers repeated this to the people of Shechem they were inclined to follow Abimelek, saying, "He is related to us." They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelek hired some reckless scoundrels with it. They went to his father's home and murdered all seventy of his brothers, except for one, Jotham, the youngest, who escaped by hiding. Afterwards the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered to crown Abimelek king. "A true Israelite -- a man who knows how to kill!" they cried.

When Jotham heard this he climbed up on top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, "Listen, you people of Shechem. One day the trees decided to anoint a king over them. They asked to olive tree, 'Be our king," but the olive said, 'Should I give up my oil by which both gods and humans are honored to hold sway over the trees?'

"Next, they asked the fig tree, who responded, 'Should I give up my nice, sweet fruit to come lord it over the trees?'

"Then they asked the grapevine, who said, 'Should I give up my wine which cheers both gods and humans to rule over trees?'

"Finally, all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come be our king,' and the thornbush replied, "If you really want me to rule over you, take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon.'

"Have you acted honorably in making Abimelek king? Have you been fair to Gideon and his family? Remember, my father fought and risked his life for you to save you from Midian, but today you have revolted and murdered his seventy sons and made Abimelek, the son of his slave, king. So have you acted honorably toward my honorable father, who screwed his slaves and got them pregnant? If so, then may Abimelek be your joy. But if not, may fire come out of Abimelek and consume the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and may fire come out of the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo and consume Abimelek!"

After finishing his sweet little story Jotham fled to Beer and lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelek (and because they had a fine brewery there).

After Abimelek ruled Israel three years all hell broke loose. First, god stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem. God loves to stir up animosity; otherwise life in heaven can get pretty boring. In opposition to him they set men on hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who went by. "We'll rob innocent people; that will show that Abimelek!"

Not only that, but a fellow named Gaal moved to Shechem, and the people put confidence in him. At one festival Gaal got a bit drunk and said, "Who is Abimelek? Why should we be subject to him. He's just a little pussy who's full of himself. If these people were under my command we would put the screws to him."

When Zebul, the city's governor, heard this, he was pissed off and sent messengers to Abimelek, saying, "Gaal, son of Ebed, has come to Shechem and is stirring the city up against you. You and your men should come down during the night and lie in wait. When Gaal and his men come out of the city, attack them."

So Abimelek did as Zebul suggested. When Gaal came out in the morning Abimelek's men came out from hiding to attack. When Gaal saw them he said to Zebul, "Look! People are coming down from the mountains!"

Zebul responded, "Oh, don't be lame-brained. You are mistaking the shadows of the mountains for men."

But Gaal spoke up again and said, "No, no. Look! They are coming."

"Well," Zebul responded, "where is all your big talk now? These are the ones you were ridiculing. Now is your chance to show them what you can do!"

So Gaal led the people out to fight Abimelek, but Abimelek chased him all the way back to the gate and killed many of them. Then Abimelek went to Arumah while Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.

Abimelek wasn't done, though. The next day he set an ambush. When the people of Shechem went out to the fields he killed them all, and then he went in and slaughtered the remaining inhabitants of the city. "There! Go join my seventy brothers, suckers!" he cried. He destroyed the city and poured salt over it so he could spice up his food on picnics there.

When the citizens in the tower of Shechem heard of this they went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith. When Abimelek heard of this he and his men piled branches against the stronghold and set them on fire, killing about a thousand men and women who were inside. "Have some more company, brothers!" he cried.

Then Abimelek went to Thebez and besieged and captured it. All the people of the city, however, had fled into the tower. Abimelek went to attack the tower, but his luck wasn't so good this time. A woman dropped a millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Abimelek said to his armor-bearer, "Shit! That damned bitch just busted my head! Don't let me die like this. They'll say a damned woman killed me. They'll laugh at my funeral. Draw your sword and kill me yourself!" So his armor-bearer did so, and when the Israelites saw Abimelek was dead they went home.

And so god repaid Abimelek for murdering his brothers, after letting him kill thousands more, but, then again, god moves in mysterious ways.

And Jotham's curse came true.

[10] After Abimelek, a man of Issachar named Tola, son of Puah, son of Dodo, a real bird brain, rose to save Israel and led them for twenty-three years.

He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel for twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys and controlled thirty towns. (Say, "Wow!")