Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to his mother's brothers at Shechem and spoke to them and to all his maternal grandfather's clan, saying,
"Please speak in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, 'Is it better for you that 70 men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you or that one man rule over you?' Remember that I am your own flesh and blood."
His mother's relatives spoke all these words about him in the presence of all the lords of Shechem, and they were favorable to Abimelech, for they said, "He is our brother."
So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-berith. Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men with this money, and they followed him.
He went to his father's house in Ophrah and killed his 70 brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on top of a large stone. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid himself.
Then all the lords of Shechem and of Beth-millo gathered together and proceeded to make Abimelech king at the oak of the pillar in Shechem.
When they told Jotham, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim, raised his voice, and called to them: Listen to me, lords of Shechem, and may God listen to you:
The trees set out to anoint a king over themselves. They said to the olive tree, "Reign over us."
But the olive tree said to them, "Should I stop giving my oil that honors both God and man, and rule over the trees?"
Then the trees said to the fig tree, "Come and reign over us."
But the fig tree said to them, "Should I stop giving my sweetness and my good fruit, and rule over trees?"
Later, the trees said to the grapevine, "Come and reign over us."
But the grapevine said to them, "Should I stop giving my wine that cheers both God and man, and rule over trees?"
Finally, all the trees said to the bramble, "Come and reign over us."
The bramble said to the trees, "If you really are anointing me as king over you, come and find refuge in my shade. But if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon."
"Now if you have acted faithfully and honestly in making Abimelech king, if you have done well by Jerubbaal and his family, and if you have rewarded him appropriately for what he did-
for my father fought for you, risked his life, and delivered you from the hand of Midian,
and now you have attacked my father's house today, killed his 70 sons on top of a large stone, and made Abimelech, the son of his slave, king over the lords of Shechem 'because he is your brother'-
if then, you have acted faithfully and honestly with Jerubbaal and his house this day, rejoice in Abimelech and may he also rejoice in you.
But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the lords of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech."
Then Jotham fled, escaping to Beer, and lived there because of his brother Abimelech.
When Abimelech had ruled over Israel three years,
God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully,
so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers.
The lords of Shechem rebelled against him by putting people on the tops of the mountains to ambush and rob everyone who passed by them on the road. So this was reported to Abimelech.
Gaal son of Ebed came with his brothers and crossed into Shechem, and the lords of Shechem trusted him.
So they went out to the countryside and harvested grapes from their vineyards. They trod the grapes and held a celebration. Then they went to the house of their god, and as they ate and drank, they cursed Abimelech.
Gaal son of Ebed said, "Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem that we should serve him? Isn't he the son of Jerubbaal, and isn't Zebul his officer? You are to serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we serve Abimelech?
If only these people were in my power, I would remove Abimelech." So he said to Abimelech, "Gather your army and come out."
When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was angry.
So he sent messengers secretly to Abimelech, saying, "Look, Gaal son of Ebed, with his brothers, have come to Shechem and are turning the city against you.
Now tonight, you and the people with you are to come wait in ambush in the countryside.
Then get up early and at sunrise, charge the city. When he and the people who are with him come out against you, do to him whatever you can."
So Abimelech and all the people with him got up at night and waited in ambush for Shechem in four units.
Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate. Then Abimelech and the people who were with him got up from their ambush.
When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, "Look, people are coming down from the mountaintops!" But Zebul said to him, "The shadows of the mountains look like men to you."
Then Gaal spoke again: "Look, people are coming down from the central part of the land, and one unit is coming from the direction of the Diviners' Oak."
Zebul replied, "Where is your mouthing off now? You said, 'Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?' Aren't these the people you despised? Now go and fight them!"
So Gaal went out leading the lords of Shechem and fought against Abimelech,
but Abimelech pursued him, and Gaal fled before him. Many wounded died as far as the entrance of the gate.
Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers from Shechem.
The next day when the people went into the countryside, this was reported to Abimelech.
He took the people, divided them into three companies, and waited in ambush in the countryside. He looked, and the people were coming out of the city, so he arose against them and struck them down.
Then Abimelech and the units that were with him rushed forward and took their stand at the entrance of the city gate. The other two units rushed against all who were in the countryside and struck them down.
So Abimelech fought against the city that entire day, captured it, and killed the people who were in it. Then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.
When all the lords of the Tower of Shechem heard, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith.
Then it was reported to Abimelech that all the lords of the Tower of Shechem had gathered together.
So Abimelech and all the people who were with him went up to Mount Zalmon. Abimelech took his ax in his hand and cut a branch from the trees. He picked up the branch, put it on his shoulder, and said to the people who were with him, "Hurry and do what you have seen me do."
Each person also cut his own branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches against the inner chamber and set it on fire around the people, and all the people in the Tower of Shechem died-about 1,000 men and women.
Abimelech went to Thebez, camped against it, and captured it.
There was a strong tower inside the city, and all the men, women, and lords of the city fled there. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof of the tower.
When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he approached its entrance to set it on fire.
But a woman threw the upper portion of a millstone on Abimelech's head and fractured his skull.
He quickly called his armor-bearer and said to him, "Draw your sword and kill me, or they'll say about me, 'A woman killed him.' " So his armor-bearer thrust him through, and he died.
When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
In this way, the evil that Abimelech had done against his father, by killing his 70 brothers, God turned back on him.
And God also returned all the evil of the men of Shechem on their heads. So the curse of Jotham son of Jerubbaal came on them.
Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.