And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily
In a secret manner, unknown to Gaal and the men of Shechem; or "craftily", as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it, still dissembling, notwithstanding his anger, to be in the interest of Gaal, and the men of Shechem, as appears indeed afterwards by a show of friendliness with Gaal, ( Judges 9:36 ) though, according to Joseph Kimchi and Ben Gersom, Thormah is the name of the place where Abimelech was, the same with Arumah, ( Judges 9:41 ) and the sense is, that he sent messengers to Abimelech at Thormah or Arumah:
saying, Gaal the son of Ebal, and his brethren, be come to Shechem;
a family that Abimelech well knew, and if they were of the race of the old Canaanites, he would easily perceive their design:
and, behold, they fortify the city against thee;
by repairing its fortifications, or adding new works; or "besiege" F9 it, which, as that is done by placing an army around it without, that none can come out of it, so by setting a watch within, and upon the walls, and at the gates of it, that none can come in, which is here meant; though some interpret it of their design to besiege the city Thormah, where Abimelech was, of which he gives him notice; or rather they set the city against thee, make the inhabitants thine enemies.