After Abimelech had governed Israel three years,
God sent an evil spirit1 between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem, who acted treacherously against Abimelech.
References for Judges 9:23
God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal's seventy sons,2 the shedding3 of their blood, might be avenged4 on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him5 murder his brothers.
References for Judges 9:24
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 Ebed6 moved with his brothers into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him.
References for Judges 9:26
After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden7 them, they held a festival in the temple of their god.8 While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech.
References for Judges 9:27
Then Gaal son of Ebed9 said, "Who10 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,11 Shechem's father! Why should we serve Abimelech?
References for Judges 9:28
If only this people were under my command!12 Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, 'Call out your whole army!' "13
References for Judges 9:29
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 wait14 in the fields.
References for Judges 9:32
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.15"
References for Judges 9:33
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 gate16 just as Abimelech and his soldiers came out from their hiding place.17
References for Judges 9:35
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?18 Go out and fight them!"
References for Judges 9:38
So Gaal led out the citizens of Shechem and fought Abimelech.
References for Judges 9:39
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.