After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,
and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.
But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God.
Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."11
So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court.
"This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law."
Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you.
But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law--settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things."
So he had them ejected from the court.
Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.
Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.
They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.
When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined.
But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus.
When he landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
After spending some time in Antioch, Paul set out from there and traveled from place to place throughout the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures.
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.
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.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
"Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone--
while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?
"Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment.
The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
"Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death ?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
"What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?
"Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God's] dominion over the earth?
"Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?
Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind ?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?
"Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?