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.
He was followed by Jair of Gilead, who led Israel twenty-two years.
He had thirty sons, who rode thirty donkeys. They controlled thirty towns in Gilead, which to this day are called Havvoth Jair.
When Jair died, he was buried in Kamon.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD. They served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served him,
he became angry with them. He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites,
who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites.
The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress.
Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, "We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals."
The LORD replied, "When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines,