Judges 9:31
And he sent messengers to Abimelech privately, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against you.
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(31) Privily.—The Hebrew is betormah, which may mean “to Tormah,” or Arumah, where Abimelech was living (Judges 9:41). The word occurs nowhere else, and the versions differ (LXX., in secret; Cod. B, with gifts; Cod. A reading batherumah). Whether “craftily” be the right rendering or not, it is clear that the message was a secret one, for Zebul dissembled his anger until he was strong enough to throw off the mask.

They fortify.—Rather, perhaps, they tyrannise over the city because of thee.

9:30-49 Abimelech intended to punish the Schechemites for slighting him now, but God punished them for their serving him formerly in the murder of Gideon's sons. When God uses men as instruments in his hand to do his work, he means one thing, and they another. That, which they hoped would have been for their welfare, proved a snare and a trap, as those will certainly find, who run to idols for shelter; such will prove a refuge of lies.Privily - See the margin. The word is probably the name of a place in "Tormah", some think the same as "Arumah" Judges 9:41. Zebul was faithful to Abimelech, but dissembled his sentiments, from being too weak to oppose Gaal, until Abimelech came with his army Judges 9:38. 28-45. would to God this people were under my hand—He seems to have been a boastful, impudent, and cowardly person, totally unfit to be a leader in a revolutionary crisis. The consequence was that he allowed himself to be drawn into an ambush, was defeated, the city of Shechem destroyed and strewn with salt. The people took refuge in the stronghold, which was set on fire, and all in it perished. Privily, so as Gaal and his confederates might not know it. Or, in Tormah; or, who was in Tormah; for some make it the name of the place where Abimelech was, which is called with some variation Arumah, Judges 9:41.

They fortify the city against thee; they besiege or guard the city of Shechem, so as none may go out to thee, nor come in from thee. And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily,.... In a secret manner, unknown to Gaal and the men of Shechem; or "craftily", as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it, still dissembling, notwithstanding his anger, to be in the interest of Gaal, and the men of Shechem, as appears indeed afterwards by a show of friendliness with Gaal, Judges 9:36 though, according to Joseph Kimchi and Ben Gersom, Thormah is the name of the place where Abimelech was, the same with Arumah, Judges 9:41 and the sense is, that he sent messengers to Abimelech at Thormah or Arumah:

saying, Gaal the son of Ebal, and his brethren, be come to Shechem; a family that Abimelech well knew, and if they were of the race of the old Canaanites, he would easily perceive their design:

and, behold, they fortify the city against thee; by repairing its fortifications, or adding new works; or "besiege" (i) it, which, as that is done by placing an army around it without, that none can come out of it, so by setting a watch within, and upon the walls, and at the gates of it, that none can come in, which is here meant; though some interpret it of their design to besiege the city Thormah, where Abimelech was, of which he gives him notice; or rather they set the city against thee, make the inhabitants thine enemies.

(i) "obsident", Pagninus, Munster, Drusius; "obsidere cogitant", Piscator.

And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.
31. craftily] The form of the Hebr. word is suspicious and the meaning unsuitable; read in Arumah, mentioned as Abimelech’s dwelling-place in Jdg 9:41.

they constrain the city] An attempt to translate the unusual construction of the Hebr. verb, which means besiege (so Verss.). But the text is at fault; perhaps we should read they are stirring up.The faithlessness of the Shechemites towards Abimelech commenced by their placing liers in wait for him (לו, dat. incomm., to his disadvantage) upon the tops of the mountains (Ebal and Gerizim, between which Shechem was situated), who plundered every one who passed by them on the road. In what way they did harm to Abimelech by sending out liers in wait to plunder the passers-by, is not very clear from the brevity of the narrative. The general effect may have been, that they brought his government into discredit with the people by organizing a system of robbery and plunder, and thus aroused a spirit of discontent and rebellion. Possibly, however, these highway robbers were to watch for Abimelech himself, if he should come to Shechem, not only to plunder him, but, if possible, to despatch him altogether. This was made known to Abimelech. But before he had put down the brigandage, the treachery broke out into open rebellion.
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