Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, "Why have you treated us like this? Why didn't you call us when you went to fight Midian?" And they criticized him sharply.
But he answered them, "What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren't the gleanings of Ephraim's grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer?
God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?" At this, their resentment against him subsided.
Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.
He said to the men of Succoth, "Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian."
But the officials of Succoth said, "Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?"
Then Gideon replied, "Just for that, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers."
From there he went up to Peniel and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Succoth had.
So he said to the men of Peniel, "When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower."
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen.
Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and fell upon the unsuspecting army.
Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.
Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres.
He caught a young man of Succoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Succoth, the elders of the town.
Then Gideon came and said to the men of Succoth, "Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, 'Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?' "
He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Succoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers.
He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.
Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, "What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?" "Men like you," they answered, "each one with the bearing of a prince."
Gideon replied, "Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the LORD lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you."
Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, "Kill them!" But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.
Zebah and Zalmunna said, "Come, do it yourself. 'As is the man, so is his strength.' " So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels' necks.
The Israelites said to Gideon, "Rule over us--you, your son and your grandson--because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian."
But Gideon told them, "I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you."
And he said, "I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder." (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)
They answered, "We'll be glad to give them." So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it.
The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels' necks.
Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon's lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years.
Jerub-Baal son of Joash went back home to live.
He had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives.
His concubine, who lived in Shechem, also bore him a son, whom he named Abimelech.
Gideon son of Joash died at a good old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god
and did not remember the LORD their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side.
They also failed to show kindness to the family of Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) for all the good things he had done for them.
Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother's brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother's clan,
"Ask all the citizens of Shechem, 'Which is better for you: to have all seventy of Jerub-Baal's sons rule over you, or just one man?' Remember, I am your flesh and blood."
When the brothers repeated all this to the citizens of Shechem, they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, "He is our brother."
They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith, and Abimelech used it to hire reckless adventurers, who became his followers.
He went to his father's home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding.
Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelech king.
When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them, "Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king.'
"But the olive tree answered, 'Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and men are honored, to hold sway over the trees?'
"Next, the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come and be our king.'
"But the fig tree replied, 'Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?'
"Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come and be our king.'
"But the vine answered, 'Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and men, to hold sway over the trees?'
"Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come and be our king.'
"The thornbush said to the trees, 'If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!'
"Now if you have acted honorably and in good faith when you made Abimelech king, and if you have been fair to Jerub-Baal and his family, and if you have treated him as he deserves--
and to think that my father fought for you, risked his life to rescue you from the hand of Midian
(but today you have revolted against my father's family, murdered his seventy sons on a single stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave girl, king over the citizens of Shechem because he is your brother)--
if then you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Jerub-Baal and his family today, may Abimelech be your joy, and may you be his, too!
But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelech and consume you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelech!"
Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and he lived there because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.
After Abimelech had governed Israel three years,
God sent an evil spirit 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, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him 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 Ebed 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 trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech.
Then Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who 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, Shechem's father! Why should we serve Abimelech?
If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, 'Call out your whole army!' "
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 wait 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."
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 gate just as Abimelech and his soldiers came out from their hiding place.
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? Go out and fight them!"
So Gaal led out 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 companies and set an ambush 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 city and scattered salt over it.
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith.
When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there,
he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon. 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.
Next Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it.
Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women--all the people of the city--fled. They locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof.
Abimelech went to the tower and stormed it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire,
a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.
Hurriedly he called to his armor-bearer, "Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can't say, 'A woman killed him.' " So his servant ran him through, and he died.
When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home.
Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.
God also made the men of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.
After the time of Abimelech a man of Issachar, Tola son of Puah, the son of Dodo, rose to save Israel. He lived in Shamir, in the hill country of Ephraim.
He led Israel twenty-three years; then he died, and was buried in Shamir.