Judges 9:36
And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.
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(36) He said to Zebul.—The narrative is too brief to enable us to understand clearly the somewhat anomalous position of Zebul. He seems to have been deposed from his office, and yet to have retained the confidence of Gaal and the Shechemites.

Thou seest the shadow of the mountains.—The shadow advancing as the sun rose. It was, of course, Zebul’s object to keep Gaal deceived as long as possible. But it is evident that Gaal’s suspicions were by no means lulled. Zebul treats him almost as if he were still suffering from the intoxication of his vaunting feast.

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. Zebul concealed the anger which he had conceived, Judges 9:30, and pretended compliance with him in this expedition, that he might draw him forth into the field, where Abimelech might have the opportunity of lighting with him, and overthrowing him.

Thou seest the shadow of the mountains; for in the morning, as this was, and in the evening, the shadows are longest, and move most quickly. He intimates that he was afraid of shadows.

And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul,.... Who was up as early, and came to the gate of the city, to see how things went, and whether there was any appearance of Abimelech and his forces, and whether any opportunity offered to let him into the city; and it seems as if he came and stood by Gaul, and appeared friendly with him:

behold, there come people down from the tops of the mountains; the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, which were near to Shechem:

and Zebul said unto him, thou seest the shadow of the mountains, as if they were men; either deriding him, as being just out of his bed, and his eyes scarce open, that he could not discern shadows from men; or rather as being of such a timorous spirit, that he was afraid of shadows; or else he said this, putting on an air of seriousness, as if he really believed this to be the case, on purpose to deceive him, and keep him from talking about them, while Abimelech and his men made further advances before Gaul could make any preparation to meet them.

And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the {l} shadow of the mountains as if they were men.

(l) You are afraid of a shadow.

Verse 36. - Saw the people, i.e. Abimelech's followers. He said to Zebul, whom he looked upon as a friend and confederate. Zebul said to him, etc. Partly to give Abimelech time, and partly to conceal his own complicity in Abimelech's movements, Zebul affected not to see the men, and explained the appearance as being merely the shadows of the mountains cast before the rising sun. Judges 9:36When Gaal went out in the morning with his retinue upon some enterprise, which is not more clearly defined, and stood before the city gate, Abimelech rose up with his army out of the ambush. On seeing this people, Gaal said to Zebul (who must therefore have come out of the city with him): "Behold, people come down from the tops of the mountains." Zebul replied, for the purpose of deceiving him and making him feel quite secure, "Thou lookest upon the shadow of the mountains as men."
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