Judges 9:18
And you are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, three score and ten persons, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Threescore and ten persons.—See Note on. Judges 9:5.

The son of his maidservant.—The term is intentionally contemptuous. It seems clear from Judges 8:31; Judges 9:1, that she was not a slave, but even of high birth among the Canaanites.

Jdg 9:18. Ye have slain his sons, &c. — Abimelech’s crime is justly charged upon them, as being committed by their consent, approbation, and assistance. Maid-servant — His concubine, whom he so calls by way of reproach. Over Shechem — By which limitation of their power, and his kingdom, he reflects contempt upon him, and chargeth them with presumption, that, having only power over their own city, they durst impose a king upon all Israel.9:7-21 There was no occasion for the trees to choose a king, they are all the trees of the Lord which he has planted. Nor was there any occasion for Israel to set a king over them, for the Lord was their King. Those who bear fruit for the public good, are justly respected and honoured by all that are wise, more than those who merely make a figure. All these fruit-trees gave much the same reason for their refusal to be promoted over the trees; or, as the margin reads it, to go up and down for the trees. To rule, involves a man in a great deal both of toil and care. Those who are preferred to public trust and power, must forego all private interests and advantages, for the good of others. And those advanced to honour and dignity, are in great danger of losing their fruitfulness. For which reason, they that desire to do good, are afraid of being too great. Jotham compares Abimelech to the bramble or thistle, a worthless plant, whose end is to be burned. Such a one was Abimelech.These verses contain the interpretation of the fable. In them Jotham points out the base ingratitude of the people in raising Abimelech upon the ruin of Gideon's house, and foretells the retribution which would fall upon both parties. 13. wine, which cheereth God and man—not certainly in the same manner. God might be said to be "cheered" by it, when the sacrifices were accepted, as He is said also to be honored by oil (Jud 9:9). Abimelech’s fact is justly charged upon them, as done by their consent, approbation, and assistance.

His maid-servant; his concubine, whom he so calls by way of reproach, because maid-servants were oft made concubines, Exodus 21:7-10.

Over the men of Shechem; by which limitation of their power, and his kingdom, he reflects contempt upon him, and chargeth them with presumption, that having only power over their own city, they durst impose a king upon all Israel. And ye are risen up against my father's house this day,.... Which was an instance of great ingratitude in them, after such services done for them, and favours received by them:

and have slain his sons, seventy persons on one stone; excepting one, himself, and he was intentionally slain, their design was to cut off everyone; and all being slain but one, the round number is given, and this being so large, is the rather observed; and though Abimelech committed the fact, the men of Shechem were accessory to it, they gave him money, with which he hired men to assist him in it, see Judges 9:20 and it is very probable they were privy to his intention, and encouraged him to it; and certain it is they showed their approbation of it, by making Abimelech king after it, and therefore they are justly charged with it:

and have made Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, king over the men of Shechem; which was both to the disgrace of Gideon, and his family, and of themselves too, that a base son of his should be made their king; when it would have been more to the credit of Gideon, and his family, that he had lived in obscurity, and had not been known as a son of his; and this was to the reproach of the men of Shechem, and especially to the princes thereof; for, by the men of Shechem are meant the lords, and great men thereof, as Kimchi observes; and great contempt is cast on Abimelech himself, who is here represented as making a very poor figure, being by extraction the son of an handmaid, and king only over the men of Shechem; and who made him so for no other reason but this:

because he is your brother; not because he had any right to the kingdom, or had any qualification for it, but because his mother lived among them, and her family belonged to them, and so he was related to many of them, and they hoped on that account to have preferment and favours from him.

And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. his maidservant] This goes beyond Jdg 9:1 and Jdg 8:31, which imply that Abimelech’s mother was not a slave but a freewoman.When Jotham, who had escaped after the murder, was told of the election which had taken place, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim, which rises as a steep wall of rock to the height of about 800 feet above the valley of Shechem on the south side of the city (Rob. iii. p. 96), and cried with a loud voice, "Hearken to me, ye lords of Shechem, and God will also hearken to you." After this appeal, which calls to mind the language of the prophets, he uttered aloud a fable of the trees which wanted to anoint a king over them-a fable of true prophetic significance, and the earliest with which we are acquainted (Judges 9:8-15). To the appeal which is made to them in succession to become king over the trees, the olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine all reply: Shall we give up our calling, to bear valuable fruits for the good and enjoyment of God and men, and soar above the other trees? The briar, however, to which the trees turn last of all, is delighted at the unexpected honour that is offered it, and says, "Will ye in truth anoint me king over you? Then come and trust in my shadow; but if not, let fire go out of the briar and consume the cedars of Lebanon." The rare form מלוכה (Chethib, Judges 9:8, Judges 9:12) also occurs in 1 Samuel 28:8; Isaiah 32:11; Psalm 26:2 : see Ewald, 228, b.). מלכי (Judges 9:10) is also rare (see Ewald, 226, b). The form החדלתּי (Judges 9:9, Judges 9:11, Judges 9:13), which is quite unique, is not "Hophal or Hiphil, compounded of ההחד or ההחד" (Ewald, 51, c), for neither the Hophal nor the Hiphil of חדל occurs anywhere else; but it is a simple Kal, and the obscure o sound is chosen instead of the a sound for the sake of euphony, i.e., to assist the pronunciation of the guttural syllables which follow one after another. The meaning of the fable is very easy to understand. The olive tree, fig tree, and vine do not represent different historical persons, such as the judges Othniel, Deborah, and Gideon, as the Rabbins affirm, but in a perfectly general way the nobler families or persons who bring forth fruit and blessing in the calling appointed them by God, and promote the prosperity of the people and kingdom in a manner that is well-pleasing to God and men. Oil, figs, and wine were the most valuable productions of the land of Canaan, whereas the briar was good for nothing but to burn. The noble fruit-trees would not tear themselves from the soil in which they had been planted and had borne fruit, to soar (נוּע, float about) above the trees, i.e., not merely to rule over the trees, but obire et circumagi in rebus eorum curandis. נוּע includes the idea of restlessness and insecurity of existence. The explanation given in the Berleb. Bible, "We have here what it is to be a king, to reign or be lord over many others, namely, very frequently to do nothing else than float about in such restlessness and distraction of thoughts, feelings, and desires, that very little good or sweet fruit ever falls to the ground," if not a truth without exception so far as royalty is concerned, is at all events perfectly true in relation to what Abimelech aimed at and attained, to be a king by the will of the people and not by the grace of God. Wherever the Lord does not found the monarchy, or the king himself does not lay the foundations of his government in God and the grace of God, he is never anything but a tree, moving about above other trees without a firm root in a fruitful soil, utterly unable to bear fruit to the glory of God and the good of men. The expression "all the trees" is to be carefully noticed in Judges 9:14. "All the trees" say to the briar, Be king over us, whereas in the previous verse only "the trees" are mentioned. This implies that of all the trees not one was willing to be king himself, but that they were unanimous in transferring the honour to the briar. The briar, which has nothing but thorns upon it, and does not even cast sufficient shadow for any one to lie down in its shadow and protect himself from the burning heat of the sun, is an admirable simile for a worthless man, who can do nothing but harm. The words of the briar, "Trust in my shadow," seek refuge there, contain a deep irony, the truth of which the Shechemites were very soon to discover. "And if not," i.e., if ye do not find the protection you expect, fire will go out of the briar and consume the cedars of Lebanon, the largest and noblest trees. Thorns easily catch fire (see Exodus 22:5). The most insignificant and most worthless man can be the cause of harm to the mightiest and most distinguished.
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