And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers, and communed with them…
Nothing shows the extent and significance of Gideon's influence so much as the anarchy that followed his death. The presence of one may check, restrain, direct, etc. in a degree wholly inexplicable until its removal. The retrogression of peoples - how difficult to comprehend! Sometimes a single individual (at most a few) concentrates in himself all the highest tendencies of his time, the only original of what appears a common possession. The weakness - mental, spiritual, political, and religious - of the nation now reveals itself. A time like that following upon Gideon's judgeship tries men and declares their real motives. Of the usurpation now attempted, notice -
I. THE AIM. Worthy men seek to emulate the moral and intellectual excellence of the great deceased; unworthy, merely to succeed to their office and to enjoy their honours. It was a splendid opportunity which now presented itself to carry on, and to higher issues, the work initiated by Gideon. Instead of this, personal aggrandisement is the all-absorbing aim. Unscrupulous advantage is taken of the interregnum in the judgeship. And the more utterly base appears the project, inasmuch as it is not only what Gideon enjoyed that is sought, but what he rejected, as considering himself unworthy.
II. THE SPIRIT.
1. Irreligious. No betaking of himself to the oracle; no recognition of God as Supreme Arbiter and Judge-maker.
2. Immodest. Personal fitness is not questioned, nor is the superior qualification of others considered.
3. Selfish. The rights of others are trampled upon, human blood is spilled like water, and the nation is regarded only as a corpus vile for political experiments and ambitious aims.
III. THE MEANS AND METHODS. Arguments. Falsehood and sophistry. The alternatives presented - "Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you?" - are not real. Charging others with the same aims as his own. Appeals not to the nation's sense of right, but to expediency, and kinship, etc: - Its occasion is the misfortune and weakness of others. Its instrumentality, unhallowed gold and a mercenary soldiery. Its method, a series of wrongs culminating in murder.
IV. THE. SUCCESS. Apparently sudden, complete, absolute; really hollow, involving constant distrust and fear, and ever new outrages, and having in itself the elements of ultimate judgment. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,