Judges 9:46
And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(46) The men of the tower of Shechem.—Evidently the garrison of the house of Millo (Judges 9:6).

Entered into an hold.—The word for “hold” occurs in 1Samuel 13:6 (“high place”). The LXX. render it “a fortress” (ochuroma); Luther, “Festung.” In the Æthiopic Version of Mark 16:15 a similar word is used for “upper room.” The Vulg. has, “They entered the fane of their god Berith, where they had made their league with him, and from this the place had received its name, and it was strongly fortified.”

Of the house of the god Berith.—Similarly. Arcesilas burnt the Cyrenæns in a tower (Herod. iv. 164), and in 1 Maccabees 5:43 the defeated enemy fly for refuge to the temple of Ashtaroth in Karnaim, which Judas takes and burns.

Jdg 9:46. When the men of the tower heard — Either a strong place belonging to the city of Shechem, and made for its defence without the city, or perhaps a town at some distance from Shechem, but probably inhabited by Shechemites. When these people heard of the fate of the city, they retired to a strong hold adjoining to one of their temples, which used to be built on eminences, and to be fortified by nature as well as art. Hither they fled, fearing the same destruction which had befallen Shechem, and here they hoped to be secure, partly by the strength of the place, and partly by the religion of it, thinking that either their god Baal-berith would protect them there, or that Abimelech would spare them out of regard to that god.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.An hold of the house of the god Berith - As combining the advantages of a "sanctuary" (compare 1 Kings 2:28) and a fortress. The word rendered "hold" occurs elsewhere only in 1 Samuel 13:6, where it is rendered "high-place." Its exact signification is uncertain. 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 tower of Shechem; a strong place belonging to the city of Shechem, and made for its defence or security, but without the city. It is thought this was that Milo which was confederate with Shechem in their design for Abimelech, Judges 9:6, which also Jotham cursed with Shechem, Judges 9:20, and that curse is noted to have its effect, Judges 9:57. And this place may be called the tower of Shechem, either because those who possessed and defended it were sent from Shechem, or because it was built and kept for the safeguard of Shechem.

The house of the god Berith; or, Baal-berith, Judges 9:4. Hither they fled out of the town belonging to it, fearing the same event with Shechem; and here they thought to be secure; partly by the strength of the place, as the temples of idols were ofttimes built in the highest and strongest places, as the capitol at Rome, and the temple at Jerusalem; and such this place seems to have been, because they laid their treasure here, Judges 9:4, partly by the religion of it, thinking that either their god would protect them there, or that Abimelech would spare them there, if not out of piety to that god, yet out of thankfulness for the benefit which he received thence, Judges 9:4. And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that,.... That the city of Shechem was taken, the inhabitants of it slain, the city beaten down, and sowed with salt; by which it appears that this tower was not within the city, for then the men of it would have seen what was done, and not be said only to hear it; though it was not far from it, and possessed by Shechemites, and whither some of the principal inhabitants had now fled for safety; perhaps it is the same with the house of Millo, and so that part of Jotham's curse, which respected that, had now its accomplishment, otherwise no account is given of it:

they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith; not thinking themselves safe enough in the tower, they betook themselves to the temple of Baalberith their god, see Judges 9:4 which was a strong fortified place, as temples often were; or however had a strong hold belonging to it, and hither they fled, either because of the greater strength of the place, or because of the sanctity of it, and imagining Abimelech would not destroy it on that account; and the rather, because of the supply he had from it, which enabled him to raise himself to the government of Israel.

And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god {p} Berith.

(p) That is, of Baniberith, as Jud 8:33.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
46. the tower of Shechem] Migdal-Shechem or Tower of Shechem, not the citadel of S., but an unwalled village in the neighbourhood, marked by a tower, cf. Jdg 8:9; Jdg 8:17.

the hold of the house of El-berith) The rendering hold Jdg 9:49, i.e. an underground excavation, suits the only other place where the word (ṣerîaḥ) occurs, 1 Samuel 13:6; in Nabataean Aramaic the word is used for the vault of a grave (NSI., pp. 237, 241); it is frequently found in Arabic epitaphs from Egypt with the sense of tomb (Clermont Ganneau, Recueil d’Arch. Or., vii. p. 200). So in Jdg 9:49; they laid the faggots upon the vault, set the vault on fire over the heads of the people within. For El-bĕrîth cf. Jdg 9:4, Jdg 8:33 Baal-bĕrîth.Verse 46. - The men of the tower of Sechem. The tower of Shechem is no doubt the same fortified building as was spoken of in vers. 6 and 20 by the name of the house of Millo (see note to ver. 6). An, or rather the, hold. The word so rendered occurs elsewhere only in 1 Samuel 13:6, where it is rendered high places, and is coupled with caves, thickets, rocks, and pits, as one of the hiding-places of the Israelites from the Philistines. It was probably some kind of keep built on an eminence, and the place where the treasure of the temple was kept (ver. 4). It appears from the narrative that the tower of Shechem, or house of Millo, was not actually part of Shechem, nor immediately contiguous, since the report of the capture of Shechem had to be carried thither. The god Berith. It should rather be El-berith, the same as Baal-berith in ver. 4 - El, i.e. god, being substituted for Baal. Then Gaal went out "before the citizens of Shechem;" i.e., not at their head as their leaders, which is the meaning of לפני in Genesis 33:3; Exodus 13:21; Numbers 10:35, etc., - for, according to Judges 9:33-35, Gaal had only gone out of the town with his own retinue, and, according to Judges 9:42, Judges 9:43, the people of Shechem did not go out till the next day, - but "in the sight of the lords of Shechem," so that they looked upon the battle. But the battle ended unfortunately for him. Abimelech put him to flight (רדף as in Leviticus 26:36), and there fell many slain up to the gate of the city, into which Gaal had fled with his followers.
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