Judges 9:42
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(42) On the morrow.—This is surprising. Possibly, however, there were important agricultural labours to be finished, and Abimelech had lulled them into security by ostentatiously withdrawing his forces.

Into the field—“The wide corn-fields at the opening of the Valley of Shechem” (Stanley).

(42) Set the hold on fire.—The words of Jotham (Judges 9:20) had proved prophetic. (For a similar incident see 1Kings 16:18—Zimri burnt in the palace at Tirzah.)

Died.—The Vulgate renders it, Were killed with the smoke and fire.

Jdg 9:42-44. The people went out into the field — To their usual employments about their land. He divided them into three companies — Whereof he kept one with himself, (Jdg 9:44,) and put the rest under other commanders. Abimelech stood in the entering of the gate — To prevent the retreat of the people into the city, and to give the other two companies opportunity to cut them off.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.After Gaal's expulsion, "the people went out into the field," either to complete the vintage, or for some other agricultural operation. "They" (Zebul and his party) sent word of this to Abimelech. 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. The people went out into the field; either, first, To renew the fight, and avenge themselves for their last loss, the great God hardening their hearts to their destruction, and the accomplishment of his word delivered to them by Jotham. But here is not one word about the people’s arming, or resisting, or fighting, as there was before, Judges 9:39, but only of their slaughter, Judges 9:43,44. Or, secondly, To their usual and then proper employments about their lands; for though their vintage was past, the seed-time was now come, and other things were to be done in the fields. Or, thirdly, Upon some solemn occasion, not here expressed; possibly to make a solemn procession, or perform some other rites in the fields, to the honour of their god Baal-berith, as the manner of the heathen was, to make supplication to him for his help, and for better success; or only to go for that end to the house of their god Baal-berith, which is thought to have been in the fields, as may seem from Judges 9:27,46, on a mountain upon the east side of the city. And it came to pass on the morrow,.... The day after the battle:

that the people went out into the field; some think to fight, and try the event of another battle, in order to be freed from Abimelech, but that seems not so likely: rather to finish their vintage, as Josephus (l), or to till their ground, to plough and sow, which quickly came on after the vintage was ended; find this they might do the more securely, since Abimelech had withdrawn himself and his forces to his place of habitation, and so concluded he would not soon at least return to them; and the rather they might think he would be more easy, with then, since Gaal was thrust out from among them:

and they told Abimelech; or it was told Abimelech, that the people came out into the field, and so an opportunity offered to him to come and cut them off, as they were at their business unarmed.

(l) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 7. sect. 4.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
42. the people went out] Perhaps to lie in wait for passers by, if we connect this verse with Jdg 9:25.

42–49. Abimelech destroys Shechem and Migdal-Shechem

After the Shechemites have suffered the severe defeat just described, and Abimelech has retired and dwelt at Arumah, it is incredible that, on the next morning, the people should come out of the city as if nothing had happened, and that Abimelech should be able to surprise them by the same device which had proved so successful the day before. All difficulties disappear if we regard these verses, not as the sequel to 34–41, but as a second account of Abimelech’s attack on Shechem, originally following 22–25. The Shechemites break out into open treason (Jdg 9:25); A. takes instant (‘on the morrow’ Jdg 9:42) and severe revenge. Moore thinks that Jdg 9:22-25 are derived from E, Jdg 9:42-49 and Jdg 9:26-41 from J.Verses 42, 43. - And it came to pass, etc. The Shechemites, believing Abimelech to have retired, and hoping that he would be satisfied with the chastisement inflicted upon them in the battle of the day before, left the protection of their walls next morning to pursue their usual avocations in the field. Abimelech's spies in the city being aware of their intention immediately reported it to him. Upon which he hastily took his army, divided them as before into three companies, lay in ambush in the field till the Shechemites were well out in the country, then attacked the Shechemites in the field with two of the companies, and himself at the head of the third rushed to the city gate to intercept their retreat. When 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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