|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:1-6 The men of Shechem chose Abimelech king. God was not consulted whether they should have any king, much less who it should be. If parents could see what their children would do, and what they are to suffer, their joy in them often would be turned into sorrow: we may be thankful that we cannot know what shall happen. Above all, we should fear and watch against sin; for our evil conduct may produce fatal effects upon our families, after we are in our graves.
Verse 4. - Threescore and ten of silver, i.e. shekels, which is always understood. Equal in value to about seven pounds; quite enough with which to hire a band of "vain and light persons," who would afterwards maintain themselves by plunder. Out of the house of Baal-berith. The custom of collecting treasures at the temple, both that of the true God and of idols, whether they were offerings and gifts for the service of the temple, or treasures deposited there for safety, was very general (see Joshua 6:19; 1 Kings 15:18; 1 Chronicles 29:8; Daniel 1:2, etc.). The treasures belonging to the temple of Apollo at Delphi were very great, and excited the cupidity of Xerxes, who sent an army to plunder the temple, but was foiled in the attempt. The Phocians are related to have seized 10,000 talents from the treasury of Delphi, nearly two and a half millions sterling. The temple of Diana at Ephesus had considerable treasures in money, as well as other valuable articles. Many other notices of the riches of temple treasures occur in classical writers. Vain and light persons. Of. Judges 11:3; 1 Samuel 22:2; 2 Samuel 15:1; 2 Chronicles 13:7. Vain, literally, empty; light, literally, boiling over. Applied to the false prophets (Zephaniah 3:4). In German, sprudel-kopf is a hot-headed, hasty man.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baalbirith,.... The temple of their idol; of this name See Gill on Judges 8:33, out of the money which had been dedicated to his service by freewill offering, or out of a bank which they deposited there for greater safety, and perhaps out of a superstitious notion of its being more prosperous and successful: of what value these pieces were is not certain; by pieces of silver, commonly shekels are meant; but these are thought to be of too little value to be given to a man to raise an army with, or carry on a scheme to advance himself to the throne; and talents are judged to be too large a sum for such a city to contribute out of a temple of theirs, and that but lately built, as it must be since the death of Gideon; they are therefore thought to be pounds, as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; however, in the number of them there seems to be some reference to the number of Gideon's sons, who were to be destroyed by bribing men with this sum, which was the scheme concerted between Abimelech and the men of Shechem:
wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him; perhaps seventy of them, giving to each a piece or pound of silver; these were a base scoundrel sort of people, that lived in an idle scandalous manner, a sort of freebooters, that lived upon what they could lay hold on in a way of force and rapine; men of light heads and empty brains, and whose pockets were as light and empty as their heads, and fit to engage in any enterprise, though ever so barbarous, for the sake of a little money.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. the house of Baal-berith—either the temple, or the place where this idol was worshipped; Baal-berith, "god of the covenant," by invocation of whom the league of cities was formed.
Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him—idle, worthless vagabonds, the scum of society, who had nothing to lose, but much to gain from the success of a revolutionary movement.
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