After Abimelech had governed Israel three years,
God sent an evil spirit1 between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech.
God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal's seventy sons,2 the shedding3 of their blood, might be avenged4 on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him5 murder his brothers.
In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelech.
Now Gaal son of Ebed6 moved with his brothers into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him.
After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden7 them, they held a festival in the temple of their god.8 While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech.
Then Gaal son of Ebed9 said, "Who10 is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should be subject to him? Isn't he Jerub-Baal's son, and isn't Zebul his deputy? Serve the men of Hamor,11 Shechem's father! Why should we serve Abimelech?
If only this people were under my command!12 Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, 'Call out your whole army!' "a1330
When Zebul the governor of the city heard what Gaal son of Ebed said, he was very angry.
Under cover he sent messengers to Abimelech, saying, "Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem and are stirring up the city against you.
Now then, during the night you and your men should come and lie in wait14 in the fields.
In the morning at sunrise, advance against the city. When Gaal and his men come out against you, do whatever your hand finds to do.15"
So Abimelech and all his troops set out by night and took up concealed positions near Shechem in four companies.
Now Gaal son of Ebed had gone out and was standing at the entrance to the city gate16 just as Abimelech and his soldiers came out from their hiding place.1736
When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul, "Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!" Zebul replied, "You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men."
But Gaal spoke up again: "Look, people are coming down from the center of the land, and a company is coming from the direction of the soothsayers' tree."
Then Zebul said to him, "Where is your big talk now, you who said, 'Who is Abimelech that we should be subject to him?' Aren't these the men you ridiculed?18 Go out and fight them!"
So Gaal led outb the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelech.
Abimelech chased him, and many fell wounded in the flight--all the way to the entrance to the gate.
Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.
The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelech.
So he took his men, divided them into three companies19 and set an ambush20 in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them.
Abimelech and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance to the city gate. Then two companies rushed upon those in the fields and struck them down.
All that day Abimelech pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city21 and scattered salt22 over it.
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple23 of El-Berith.
When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there,
he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon.24 He took an ax and cut off some branches, which he lifted to his shoulders. He ordered the men with him, "Quick! Do what you have seen me do!"
So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelech. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire over the people inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.