Judges 9: Abimelech’s Power Grab

After Gideon’s death, his son by the Shechem girlfriend, Abimelech, decided to go home to visit his mother’s relatives. Everyone was discussing what was going to happen in the vacuum of power left by Gideon’s demise. Some people were complaining about how they were going to have to try to follow 70 leaders since Gideon didn’t leave a clear heir. Abimelech was all, why we just knock it down to one? Aren’t I a son of Gideon? Why can’t I be your leader? The Shechemites were all, hell ya! Take this money from the Baal-berith shrine and make us proud!

So Abimelech took the money, hired a band of mercenaries, traveled back to Ophrah, and murdered all his brothers. Except one, the youngest, Jotham. Then Abimelech was crowned king.

Young Jotham climbed Mt. Gerizim and rambled off some incoherent parable about kings and trees and then cursed Abimelech. he was all, how dare you faithless befoul my father’s legacy by crowning that whoreson Abimelech king! That murderous scoundrel destroyed our family. He’s just some by-blow, not even one of my legitimate brothers! Abimelech and all who have supported him will pay!  Then Jotham ran away to Beer.

Abimelech ruled for three years. Then trouble brewed between him and the elders. Some of his rivals even began leading bands of brigands. Eventually, most of the Shechemites transferred their loyalty to a Canaanite named Gaal. Gaal was all, screw these Hebrews! Let’s go back to the old ways and the old gods and the old leaders.

But Zebul, one of Abimelech’s men, heard them all conspiring and warned Abimelech about the impending uprising. So Abimelech ambushed Gaal and his party and defeated them. Then he razed Shechem and sowed salt into the fields. Then he went to seize the nearby fortress and burned it, killing all the inhabitants. Then he besieged Thebez, but while attacking the walls, a woman threw a millstone down, crushing Abimelech’s skull. With his dying breath, he begged his squire to kill him so people wouldn’t say that Abimelech was killed by a woman. So his squire stabbed him.

Thus was fulfilled Jotham’s curse.

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