Judges 9:1
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,
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(1) And Abimelech.—This narrative of the rise and fall of Abimelech, “the bramble king,” is singularly vivid in many of its details, while at the same time material facts are so briefly touched upon that parts of the story must remain obscure. The general bearing of this graphic episode is to illustrate the slow, but certain, working of Divine retribution. The two main faults of the last phase of Gideon’s career had been his polygamy and his dangerous tampering with unauthorised, if not idolatrous, worship. The retribution for both errors falls on his house. The agents of their overthrow are the kinsmen of his base-born son by a Canaanite mother. Abimelech seems to have taken his first steps very soon after Gideon’s death. Doubtless he had long been secretly maturing his plans. The narrative bears on its surface inimitable marks of truthfulness. We can trace in the character of Abimelech a reflection of his father’s courage and promptitude, overshadowed by elements which he must have drawn from his maternal origin.

Unto his mother’s brethren.—His Canaanite kith and kin, who doubtless had great influence over the still powerful aboriginal element of the Shechemite population.

Jdg 9:1-3. Abimelech went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren — That is, her relations; and communed with them — To try if he could engage them to favour and aid the design he had conceived to usurp the government of Israel, in direct opposition to his father’s will, who had declared no son of his should rule over them. His mother had, probably, instilled into his mind some ambitious thoughts, and the name his father had given him, carrying royalty in its meaning, might help to blow up these sparks, and excite him to take the steps here mentioned. He had no call from God to this office and honour, as his father had, nor was there any present occasion for a judge to deliver Israel, as there was when his father was advanced; but his own ambition must be gratified, and that is all he aims at. That all the sons of Jerubbaal reign over you — He wickedly insinuates, though perhaps without any ground for it, that the sons of Jerubbaal were ambitious of the kingdom which their father refused; and therefore prays them to consider what horrible divisions and confusions it would make, if so many were permitted to pretend to the government, and how much better it would be to choose one from among the rest; pointing them (in the next words) to himself. Remember, I am your bone and your flesh — Your kinsman, of the same tribe and city with you; which will be no small honour and advantage to you. Shechem was a city in the tribe of Ephraim, of great note. Joshua had held his last great meeting of the representatives of the tribes there. And no doubt Abimelech thought if that city would but declare for him, and abet his design, it would be a great step toward ensuring the success of it. They said, He is our brother — And his advancement will be to our advantage. They were pleased to think of their city becoming a royal city, and the metropolis of Israel, and therefore were easily persuaded to what they believed would serve their interest.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.We are not told how soon after the death of Gideon these events happened. There must have been time for the apostacy and establishment of Baal-worship, and for the development of ill-will between Abimelech and his brethren. CHAPTER 9

Jud 9:1-6. Abimelech Is Made King by the Shechemites.

1. Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem—The idolatry which had been stealthily creeping into Israel during the latter years of Gideon was now openly professed; Shechem was wholly inhabited by its adherents; at least, idolaters had the ascendency. Abimelech, one of Gideon's numerous sons, was connected with that place. Ambitious of sovereign power, and having plied successfully the arts of a demagogue with his maternal relatives and friends, he acquired both the influence and money by which he raised himself to a throne.

communed … with all the family of the house of his mother's father—Here is a striking instance of the evils of polygamy—one son has connections and interests totally alien to those of his brothers.Abimelech, Gideon’s son, by conspiracy with the Shechemites, and the murder of his brethren, Jotham the youngest escaping, is made king, Judges 9:1-6. Jotham by a parable rebuketh them, and foretelleth their ruin: he flees and dwells at Beer, Judges 9:7-21. The Shechemites conspire against Abimelech, Judges 9:22-25. Gaal joins himself to the Shechemites, Judges 9:26-29. Zebul reveals it, Judges 9:30-33. Betrayeth Gaal, Judges 9:34-38. Abimelech overcometh them, and soweth the city with salt, Judges 9:39-45. Sets the tower on fire; also the hold of the god Berith, Judges 9:46-49. He subdues Thebez: going near to the tower to burn it, a woman casts down a piece of a mill-stone on his head, and breaks his skull, Judges 9:50-53. He commands his armour-bearer to thrust him through, Judges 9:54. Jotham’s curse is fulfilled, Judges 9:56,57.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, unto his mother's brethren,.... It seems that though the mother of Abimelech lived at Shechem, he was taken and brought up in his father's house at Ophrah, where he was when he died; and from hence he came to Shechem, to pay a visit to his uncles there; whether his mother was now living, is not certain:

and communed with them; about the death of his father, the state of his family, and the government of Israel:

and with all the family of the house of his mother's father; that descended from his grandfather, the several branches of them, and of the family, the heads of them at least:

saying, as follows.

And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his {a} mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,

(a) To practice with his kinsfolk for attaining the kingdom.

1. Shechem] now Nâblus (the Roman Flavia Neapolis), 30 miles N. of Jerusalem, 5 miles S.E. of Samaria, situated in a narrow, fertile valley, at the entrance to which rise the two mountains, Ebal on the N. and Gerizim (Jdg 9:7) on the S. The town lies on the watershed (1870 ft.) between the Mediterranean and the Jordan basins, hence perhaps its name, shoulder. Easily dominated from the heights on either side, it could never defend itself against attack (Jdg 9:44 f.); but it had the great advantage of lying close to the crossing of the two main routes which traverse the country from N. to S. and from E. to W.; this accounts for the highway robbery in lawless times (Jdg 9:25, cf. Hosea 6:9). The ancient Canaanite city is often mentioned in the patriarchal stories (Genesis 12:6 J, Genesis 33:18 P, Genesis 33:19-20 E, Gen 33:34 J and P, Genesis 37:12 ff. J): how and when it passed into Israelite possession cannot be learnt with certainty, for the traditions differ; thus Genesis 48:22 E does not agree with Genesis 33:19 E, Joshua 24:32 E; and while Joshua 24:1; Joshua 24:25-26; Joshua 24:32 implies that the town was entirely Israelite before the death of Joshua, the present narrative shews that it was still largely Canaanite.Verse 1. - The son of Jerubbaal. Throughout this chapter Gideon is spoken of by the name of Jerubbaal. There must be some cause for this. The simplest and most probable cause is that this whole history of Abimelech is taken from some other source than the preceding chapters. And a considerable difference in the style of the narrative, which is feebler and more obscure, seems to bear out this inference. Went to Shechem. This revolt from the house of Gideon in favour of Abimelech seems to partake of the nature of an Ephraimite rising against the supremacy of Manasseh. It was doubtless galling to the pride of the great tribe of Ephraim (Judges 8:1, 2; Judges 12:1-6) that Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites should be the seat of government, and Gideon's ephod the centre of religion for the tribes of Israel. And so they seem to have taken advantage of Gideon's death, and of Abimelech's connection with Shechem, to make a league with the Hivite inhabitants of Shechem (see vers. 27, 28) to set up Abimelech as king, and to restore the worship of Baal, under the title of Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; Judges 9:4, 27, 46), at Shechem for all Israel to resort to. Before the account of his death, a few other notices respecting his family are introduced for the purpose of preparing the way for the following history of the doings of his sons, in which the sin of Gideon came to a head, and the judgment burst upon his house. "And Jerubbaal, the son of Joash, went and dwelt in his house." Both the word ויּלך, which simply serves to bring out the fact more vividly (see the remarks on Exodus 2:1), and also the choice of the name Jerubbaal, merely serve to give greater prominence to the change, from the heat of the war against the Midianites to the quiet retirement of domestic life. Instead of accepting the crown that was offered him and remaining at the head of the nation, the celebrated Baal-fighter retired into private life again. In addition to the seventy sons of his many wives, there was a son born to him by a concubine, who lived at Shechem and is called his maid-servant in Judges 9:18, and to this son he gave the name of Abimelech, i.e., king's father. את־שׁמו ויּשׂם is not the same as את־שׁמו קרא, to give a person a name, but signifies to add a name, or give a surname (see Nehemiah 9:7, and Daniel 5:12 in the Chaldee). It follows from this, that Abimelech received this name from Gideon as a cognomen answering to his character, and therefore not at the time of his birth, but when he grew up and manifested such qualities as led to the expectation that he would be a king's father.
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