Judges 9:22-29

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 3, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“After Abimelech had governed Israel three years, God stirred up animosity between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelech. God did this in order that the crime against Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons, the shedding of their blood, might be avenged on their brother Abimelech and on the citizens of Shechem, who had helped him murder his brothers. In opposition to him these citizens of Shechem set men on the hilltops to ambush and rob everyone who passed by, and this was reported to Abimelech.
Now Gaal son of Ebed moved with his clan into Shechem, and its citizens put their confidence in him. After they had gone out into the fields and gathered the grapes and trodden them, they held a festival in the temple of their god. While they were eating and drinking, they cursed Abimelech. Then Gaal son of Ebed said, ‘Who is Abimelech, and why should we Shechemites be subject to him? Isn’t he Jerub-Baal’s son, and isn’t Zebul his deputy? Serve the family of Hamor, Shechem’s father! Why should we serve Abimelech? If only this people were under my command! Then I would get rid of him. I would say to Abimelech, ‘Call out your whole army!’’” (Judges 9:22-29)

In last week’s passage, we see how Abimelech (Gideon’s son) came into power as the leader of the tribe of Manasseh. Jotham, the only remaining one of Abimelech’s 69 half brothers, warned the people that they’re not choosing the right man to lead them, but they didn’t listen.

Manasseh was one of the smaller and weaker tribes of Israel, but being their leader still gave Abimelech a power trip. He wasn’t exactly what you’d call everyone’s favorite leader; he was more like a tyrant or a dictator than a judge with the people’s best interests at heart as previous rulers had been.

Shechem, the setting of this section of Judges, was one of the main towns in Manasseh and it was along a primary trade route for the area. The people there did not get along well with Abimelech. The citizens of Shechem fought back Abimelech was to basically sabotage the economy. They would rob the traders who came there, which caused the economy to crash because people were afraid to come through there, lest they get robbed as well. Even though Abimelech did not live there, and had appointed a man named Zebul to rule directly in Shechem, this would still hurt the area that Abimelech was in charge of.

Meanwhile, a man named Gaal moves into town. Gaal was a Canaanite, and he was very opposed to having an Israelite such as Abimelech ruling over the area of Manasseh. Gaal questions Abimelech’s qualifications to be their ruler. Abimelech’s mother was from Shechem, though we do not know if she was Canaanite, Israelite, or from another people group, and his father Gideon was clearly an Israelite.

During the harvest festival that honored the false god Baal-Berith, Gaal starts stirring up trouble for Abimelech. Gaal claimed that he would be a better leader for the people than Abimelech, and he throws down the gauntlet to challenge Abimelech.

Why was Abimelech having such a rough time as leader? He was simply reaping what he sowed. If you recall, we read in Judges 9:5 last week that Abimelech had murdered 68 of his half brothers in cold blood, all so he would be assured to come into power, rather than one of them. He was now paying the price for his violent actions, by the people turning against him.

What have you done in your life that you’re facing negative consequences for? Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes; that’s how God’s natural law works. How are you going to handle those negative consequences? We don’t see Abimelech’s response to his consequences yet, but stay tuned next week for more of that story.

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