Title: Judges 9. Abimelech, part 6: The destruction of Shechem and Abimelech.
Where we left off, Gaal rallied the people of Shechem against king Abimelech, Gideon's bastard son, whom they elected king just three years prior. Abimelech successfully defeated Gaal and his contingent, but he did not attack the city. He would wait to do this.
Abimelech is evil and the Shechemites are evil and God sent an evil spirit among them and allowed them to destroy each other. First comes the destruction of Shechem and then Abimelech.
Punitive destruction was prophesied in Jotham's parable and confirmed by God to the historian recording the events.
JDG 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume the men of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech."
JDG 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,
JDG 9:24 in order that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.
JDG 9:41 Then Abimelech remained at Arumah, but Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives so that they could not remain in Shechem.
Abimelech doesn't force his way into the city. He will wait for an opportunity, which he takes in a most coward-like fashion.
JDG 9:42 Now it came about the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was told to Abimelech.
Since the harvest was in the people went out to prepare the land for the winter or to finish what was left of the harvest. The point is that they don't go out to make war against Abimelech but only to work. They are defenseless and exposed in the open and Abimelech takes advantage and employs the strategy of his father.
JDG 9:43 So he took his people and divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field; when he looked and saw the people coming out from the city, he arose against them and slew them.
JDG 9:44 Then Abimelech and the company who was with him dashed forward and stood in the entrance of the city gate; the other two companies then dashed against all who were in the field and slew them.
It is true that the people rebelled against him, but only an evil man would take an army, lay in hiding, and then pounce upon and kill a bunch of unarmed laborers and farmers.
He used three companies, which was the same strategy of his father. But Gideon was called by God and his bastard son was not and though there are similarities in tactics the means and the outcome are very different.
Abimelech used three companies as Gideon did, but Gideon was called by God and the outcome glorified God's covenant. Evil may be dressed up to look good, but the fruit of a bad tree is always bad.
Did Abimelech attempt to look like his father by employing his father's strategy? He may very well have attempted to put a face on this deed that may have been mistaken for godly. Satan does the same in portraying himself as an angel of light. The results of evil are always the same. The good tree produces good fruit and the bad tree bad fruit. It is that simple.
One of the three companies blocked the gate so that none of the field-workers could escape into the city for refuge.
JDG 9:45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he razed the city and sowed it with salt.
Salty ground was a symbol of a barren desert.
The remaining people fled to the stronghold of the temple.
JDG 9:46 When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith.
The Hebrew states that they entered into the "stronghold" of El-berith. They sought for protection from Baal.
On the contrary, in Dan 3, three men of God were thrown into an abnormally hot furnace, so hot that the men who threw them in were burned to death, and the three men were joined by the Lord in the furnace and they stayed quite cool and alive, from which they walked out. They didn't even smell of fire or smoke.
JDG 9:47 And it was told Abimelech that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
JDG 9:48 So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon [unknown], he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took 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 likewise."
JDG 9:49 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 a thousand men and women.
Like Gideon, Abimelech separated his men into three companies and instructed them to do as he did, but unlike Gideon, he did so for personal, selfish reasons. The means don't justify the motivation.
Again we have a parallel to his father. Gideon broke the pitchers and blew the trumpet and he told his men to do as he did. His act honored God since it would be God who would throw the Midianites into confusion. However, Abimelech takes a branch that he will use as a torch for the purpose of burning to death a thousand unarmed people. While it is true that the people are idol worshippers who have rejected Jehovah, Abimelech has no honor. He instructs his men to do the same, i.e. join him in dishonoring himself.
Often an evil man will imitate the ways of a godly man and deceive himself, and others, that he is doing right. We also saw Gideon ask the people for tribute as Moses was instructed by God to do. Moses was instructed by God to receive the offering for the purpose of building the Tabernacle. Gideon's offering was his own idea and it was for building a magnificent ephod that the people worshipped as an idol.
Jotham's prophecy was fulfilled. Fire did come from the bramble and burn the trees. They are burned within the stronghold of the Baal they worshipped. Baal/Satan will be judged in the same manner - Lake of Fire.
Shechem should have been under the control of the men of Ephraim. It was allotted to them. The men of Ephraim, like all of Israel, should have been following God's Law and if they were, Shechem would have been a powerful cedar. Such a city would have laughed at Abimelech's request to be their king. But the people of Shechem were led by Canaanites, and many Jews in the area intermarried with them and tried to make peace with them. And so, God does what Israel refused to do by His instruction.
Every day that we follow our Lord we are preparing for trials to come.
God does what Israel refused to do. He destroys a Canaanite city from the land.
At the Second Coming of Christ, God will do and establish what Israel could not do. The Lord will conquer all the land promised and He will establish righteousness and justice. He will fulfill the unconditional covenants to them.
JDG 9:50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he camped against Thebez and captured it.
This is the only time Thebez is mentioned. It might be the location of the town of Tubas which is 10 miles NE of Shechem.
It is likely that this is the beginning of a campaign by Abimelech to conquer all the surrounding towns of Shechem for his own and to be an acting king over them rather than one by name only. The rebellion of Shechem likely led all of them to rebel.
JDG 9:51 But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower.
JDG 9:52 So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it with fire.
JDG 9:53 But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech's head, crushing his skull.
An upper millstone was between twelve and eighteen inches in diameter, and several inches thick. One would speculate that it was about thirty pounds or more. Some like to think it was a piece of such a stone so as to allow a woman to lift it. Yet there is no need to overanalyze it. She might have been a young and strong girl. The only thing we need to know is that it fractured Abimelech's skull.
The man who thought he could be king of Israel was crushed by a lone woman. The weakness of God is stronger than men (1CO 1:25).
God's judgment only slumbers. He is patient, wanting all men to come to repentance. Abimelech had three years of peace and prosperity in which he could have come to a recognition of things concerning the truth, but he chose to continue on in his evil way. It is only a matter of time before the reaping begins.
JDG 9:54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, lest it be said of me, 'A woman slew him.'" So the young man pierced him through, and he died.
Too late! It is recorded forever that a woman slew him.
Gideon requested that his son kill the Midianite kings in order to disgrace them in death. The only thing more disgraceful to a warrior than being killed by a youth is to be killed by a woman, and God brought this ignoble death upon him.
JDG 9:55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each departed to his home.
It seems that when Abimelech fought against Shechem that some Israelites joined him. Therefore, those he fought were mainly Canaanites.
JDG 9:56 Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father, in killing his seventy brothers.
JDG 9:57 Also God returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came upon them.
It is made very clear. All that came upon Abimelech and Shechem was divine retribution. God once again defeats Baal. He is the true Baal-Fighter.
The Judgeship of Tola
Tola is one of those judges for whom there is not a lot of detail.
JDG 10:1 Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim.
JDG 10:2 And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.
Tola means worm, and it is a title for the Lord during His sacrifice.
But I am a worm, and not a man,
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.