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 wait1 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.2"
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 gate3 just as Abimelech and his soldiers came out from their hiding place.4
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?5 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.
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 companies6 and set an ambush7 in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he rose to attack them.
References for Judges 9:43
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 city8 and scattered salt9 over it.
References for Judges 9:45
On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple10 of El-Berith.
References for Judges 9:46
When Abimelech heard that they had assembled there,
he and all his men went up Mount Zalmon.11 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!"
References for Judges 9:48
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.