Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,CHAPTER 9 Abimelech the King and His Wickedness
1. The murder of Gideon’s sons (Judges 9:1-6)
2. Jotham’s parable (Judges 9:7-21)
3. Scenes of strife and destruction of Shechem (Judges 9:22-49)
4. Abimelech’s end (Judges 9:50-57)
The story of Abimelech is intensely interesting in its typical meaning. Abimelech was the offspring of an unlawful union: the son of Gideon and the concubine in Shechem. He was half Israelite and half Canaanite. Abimelech means “my father was king”; he claims therefore supremacy, lordship over the people Israel on the basis of succession. His father had refused that honor; the bastard offspring claims it. He gains his object by a conspiracy and by murdering the sons of his father, with the exception of Jotham, who hid himself And this domineerer over the people bears the name of the Philistine kings.
This illustrates perfectly that corrupt system of Christendom which is half Christian and half heathenish--Rome. It is like Abimelech--a bastard system. She is called in Revelation “Jezebel,” the heathen woman who was married to an Israelitish king. Rome claims apostolic succession through Peter, who disclaimed any preeminence, but rather warned against “lording over God’s heritage.” Ecclesiastical assumption to control and govern the people of God, so prominent in corrupt Christendom, is dearly indicated in Abimelech’s act of putting himself forward as king. And the murderous spirit of Abimelech is there likewise.
Jotham (Jehovah is perfect), the youngest son of Gideon, is the witness against it. He uttered a parable from Gerizim. The olive, the fig-tree and the vine refused to reign over the trees. The bramble becomes king to devour with fire the cedars of Lebanon. He applied the parable to Abimelech, who had been made king.
“The tendency of man’s heart is to make another king than God, to put leaders in His place, and thus to destroy the use and blessing for which the olive, the fig, the vine, the various gifts of God, are given. But just those who are really worthiest will most surely refuse to leave their spheres of happy service, their sweetness, and their fruit, to go to ‘wave over,’--flutter idly in the wind over the trees. Thus royalty comes naturally to the thorn-bush, which need give up nothing, but which has thus nothing in its gift but thorns,--such as, indeed, the men of Succoth (chapter 8:16) were taught with. But worse would come than this--the fire of God’s wrath, which, from this side and from that, would destroy both king and people” (Numerical Bible).
Three years later the prediction in Jotham’s parable comes true; fire came out from Abimelech and devoured the men of Shechem; and fire came out from Shechem and devoured Abimelech. It was God who sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Then there is the revolt of Gaal, (loathing), the son of Ebed (servitude), and he opposed Abimelech. Something similar came to pass in Christendom. On account of the domineering rule of Rome there was the revolt against her. The overthrow of the ecclesiastical oppressor was attempted. But Gaal’s attempt fails. He is overcome. Abimelech and his officer Zebul are victorious. The revolt has failed. Even so today Rome is gaining, and those who “protested” once against her wickedness, now are following her pernicious ways once more. Abimelech’s end was brought about by a piece of a millstone which a woman cast on him, and a young man thrust him through with a sword and he died. It was a fearful end in judgment. Even so it is written of Babylon, the mother of harlots, Rome. “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more.” ... “And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Revelation 18:21; Revelation 18:24).