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Free Bible Version - Judges

Judges 9

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1Abimelech, son of Jerub-baal, went to his mother's brothers at Shechem and told them and all his mother's relatives,
2“Please ask all the leaders of Shechem, ‘What's best for you? That seventy men, all of them Jerub-baal's sons, rule over you—or just one man?’ Remember I'm your own flesh and blood!”
3His mother's brothers shared his proposal with all the leaders of Shechem, and they decided to follow Abimelech, because they said, “He is our relative.”
4They gave him seventy shekels of silver from the temple of Baal-berith. Abimelech used the money to hire some arrogant troublemakers as his gang.
5He went to his father's house in Ophrah, and on one stone killed his seventy half-brothers, the sons of Jerub-baal. But Jotham, Jerub-baal's youngest son, escaped by going into hiding.
6Then the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo all assembled by the oak at the pillar in Shechem and made Abimelech their king.
7When Jotham got to hear this, he went up to the top of Mount Gerizim, and shouted in a loud voice: “Listen to me, leaders of Shechem, and God may to listen to you!
8Once upon a time the trees were determined to anoint a king to rule over them. They said to the olive tree, ‘You shall be our king.’
9But the olive tree replied, ‘Should I stop giving my rich oil that benefits both gods and men just to go and sway to and fro over the trees?’
10Then the trees asked the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king.’
11But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I stop giving my good sweet fruit just to go and sway to and fro over the trees?’
12Then the trees asked the grape vine, ‘You come and be our king.’
13But the grape vine replied, ‘Should I stop giving my wine that makes both gods and men happy just to go and sway to and fro over the trees?’
14Then all the trees asked the thorn bush, ‘You come and be our king.’
15The thorn bush replied to the trees, ‘If you're really sincere about anointing me as your king, come and find shelter in my shade. But if not, may fire flame out of the thorn bush and burn up the cedars of Lebanon!’
16Have you acted sincerely and honestly by making Abimelech your king? Have you been acted honorably to Jerub-baal and his family? Have you respected him for all that he accomplished?
17Don't forget how my father fought for you and risked his own life to save you from the Midianites!
18But you have rebelled against my father's family today. You have killed his seventy sons on one stone and have made Abimelech, the son of his slave woman, king over the leaders of Shechem simply because he's related to you.

19Have you acted sincerely and honestly toward Jerub-baal and his family today? If so, may you be happy with Abimelech, and may he be happy with too!
20But if you haven't, then may fire flame out from Abimelech, and may it burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire flame out from the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo and burn up Abimelech!”
21Then Jotham escaped and ran away. He went to Beer and stayed there because of the threat of Abimelech his brother.
22Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years.
23Then God sent an evil spirit to cause trouble between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. The leaders of Shechem betrayed Abimelech.
24This happened because of the murder of the seventy sons of Jerub-baal and that responsibility for their blood be placed on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the leaders of Shechem, who provided the means to kill his brothers.
25The leaders of Shechem sent men to the hill passes to lie in wait and attack Abimelech, and, in the meantime, they robbed everyone who passed by on the road. Abimelech found out what was happening.
26Gaal, son of Ebed, had moved to Shechem with his relatives, and he gained the loyalty of the leaders of Shechem.
27At harvest time they went out into the countryside and gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them. They celebrated by having a festival in the temple of their god, where they ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech.
28“Who is this Abimelech?” asked Gaal, son of Ebed. “And who is Shechem, that we should have to serve him? Isn't he the son of Jerub-baal, while Zebul is actually the one in charge? You should serve the family of Hamor, the father of Shechem. Why should we have to serve Abimelech?
29If I was the one in charge of you people, I would dispose of Abimelech! I would tell him, ‘Get your army together, and come and fight!’”
30When Zebul, the governor of the city, got to hear what Gaal was saying, he became very angry.
31He secretly sent messengers to Abimelech to tell him, “Look, Gaal, son of Ebed, and his relatives have arrived in Shechem, and they are stirring up the town to rebel against you.
32So come at night with your army and hide in the countryside.
33In the morning as soon as the sun comes up, go and attack the town. When Gaal and his men come out to fight you, you can do whatever you want to them.”
34Abimelech left at night along with his army, and they separated into four companies that lay in wait near Shechem.
35When Gaal, son of Ebed, went out and stood at the town's entrance gate, Abimelech and his army came out from where they had been hiding.
36Gaal saw the army approaching and said to Zebul, “Look! Some people are coming down from the hilltops!” “That's just shadows made by the hills that look like men,” Zebul replied.

37“No really, people are coming down from the high ground,” Gaal repeated. “Plus, there's another company coming down the road that passes the diviners' oak tree.”
38“Where's your big mouth now? You're the one who said, ‘Who is this Abimelech, that we should have to serve him?’” Zebul told him. “Aren't these the people you detested? Go on then—go and fight with them!”
39So Gaal led the leaders of Shechem out of the town and fought with Abimelech.
40Abimelech attacked, and chased him and his men as they ran away, killing many of them as they tried to get back to the town gate.
41Abimelech went back to Arumah while Zebul expelled Gaal and his relatives from Shechem.
42The following day the people of Shechem went out to the fields, and Abimelech was informed about it.
43He divided his army into three companies and had them lay in ambush in the fields. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he attacked and killed them.
44Abimelech and his company raced to occupy the town's entrance gate, while the two companies raced to attack everyone in the fields and kill them.
45The battle for the town lasted all day but eventually Abimelech captured it. He killed the people, demolished the town, and scattered salt over the ground.
46When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem realized what had happened, they took refuge in the strongroom of the temple of El-berith.
47When Abimelech found out that all the leaders in the tower of Shechem had gathered there,
48he and all the men with him went up Mount Zalmon. Abimelech grabbed hold of an ax and cut a branch from the trees. He lifted it onto his shoulder, and told his men, “Quick! You saw what I did. Do the same!”
49Each of them cut down a branch and followed Abimelech. They placed the branches against the strongroom and set it on fire. So all the people who lived in the tower of Shechem died, around one thousand men and women.
50Then Abimelech went to attack Thebez and captured it.
51But there was a strong tower inside the city. All the men and women and the town leaders ran there and barricaded themselves in, and then went up to the roof of the tower.
52Abimelech went up to the tower to attack it. But as he came close to the tower's entrance to set it on fire,
53a woman dropped millstone down on Abimelech's head and cracked his skull open.
54He quickly called the young man who carried his weapons, and ordered him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so they won't say about me that a woman killed him.” So the young man drove his sword through him, and he died.

55When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all left and went home.
56This is how God paid back Abimelech's crime against his father of murdering his seventy brothers.
57He also repaid the people of Shechem for their evil, and the curse of Jotham, son of Jerub-baal, came down upon them.