After Abimelek had governed Israel three years,
God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek.
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 Abimelek 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 Abimelek.
Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan 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 Abimelek.
Then Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelek, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelek?
If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelek, ‘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 Abimelek, saying, “Gaal son of Ebed and his clan 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, seize the opportunity to attack them.”
So Abimelek 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 of the city gate just as Abimelek and his troops 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 central hill, and a company is coming from the direction of the diviners’ tree.”
Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your big talk now, you who said, ‘Who is Abimelek 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 Abimelek.
Abimelek chased him all the way to the entrance of the gate, and many were killed as they fled.
Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.
The next day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and this was reported to Abimelek.
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.
Abimelek and the companies with him rushed forward to a position at the entrance of the city gate. Then two companies attacked those in the fields and struck them down.
All that day Abimelek 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 Abimelek 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 Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.
Next Abimelek 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—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof.
Abimelek went to the tower and attacked 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 Abimelek was dead, they went home.
Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.
God also made the people of Shechem pay for all their wickedness. The curse of Jotham son of Jerub-Baal came on them.