1 Now Abimelech, the son of Jerubbaal, went to Shechem, to his maternal brothers, and he spoke to them, and to all the relatives of the house of his maternal grandfather, saying:
2 “Speak to all the men of Shechem: Which is better for you: that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, should rule over you, or that one man should rule over you? And consider also that I am your bone and your flesh.”
3 And his maternal brothers spoke about him to all the men of Shechem, all these words, and they inclined their hearts after Abimelech, saying, “He is our brother.”
4 And they gave to him the weight of seventy silver coins from the shrine of Baal-berith. With this, he hired for himself indigent and wandering men, and they followed him.
5 And he went to his father’s house in Ophrah, and he killed his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, upon one stone. And there remained only Joatham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, and he was in hiding.
6 Then all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the families of the city of Millo, and they went and appointed Abimelech as king, beside the oak that stood at Shechem.
7 When this had been reported to Jotham, he went and stood at the top of Mount Gerizim. And lifting up his voice, he cried out and said: “Listen to me, men of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
8 The trees went to anoint a king over themselves. And they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
9 And it responded, ‘How could I abandon my fatness, which both gods and men make use of, and depart to be promoted among the trees?’
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and accept royal power over us.’
11 And it responded to them, ‘How could I abandon my sweetness, and my very sweet fruits, and depart to be promoted among the other trees?’
12 And the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and reign over us.’
13 And it responded to them, ‘How could I abandon my wine, which gives joy to God and men, and be promoted among the other trees?’
14 And all the trees said to the bramble, ‘Come and reign over us.’
15 And it responded to them: ‘If truly you would appoint me as king, come and rest under my shadow. But if you are not willing, let fire go forth from the bramble, and let it devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ ”
16 So now, if you are upright and without sin in appointing Abimelech as a king over you, and if you have acted well with Jerubbaal, and with his house, and if you have repaid, in turn, the benefits of him who fought on your behalf,
17 and who gave his life to dangers, so that he might rescue you from the hand of Midian,
18 though you now have risen up against my father’s house, and have killed his sons, seventy men, upon one stone, and have appointed Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, as a king over the inhabitants of Shechem, since he is your brother,
19 if therefore you are upright and have acted without fault with Jerubbaal and his house, then you should rejoice on this day in Abimelech, and he should rejoice in you.
20 But if you have acted perversely, may fire go forth from him and consume the inhabitants of Shechem and the town of Millo. And may fire go forth from the men of Shechem and from the town of Millo, and devour Abimelech.”
21 And when he had said these things, he fled and went away to Beer. And he lived in that place, out of fear of Abimelech, his brother.
22 And so Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years.
23 And the Lord put a very grievous spirit between Abimelech and the inhabitants of Shechem, who began to detest him,
24 and to place blame for the crime of the killing of the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, and for the shedding of their blood, upon Abimelech, their brother, and upon the rest of the leaders of the Shechemites, who assisted him.
25 And they stationed an ambush against him at the summit of the mountains. And while they were waiting for his arrival, they committed robberies, taking spoils from those passing by. And this was reported to Abimelech.
26 Now Gaal, the son of Ebed, went with his brothers, and crossed over to Shechem. And the inhabitants of Shechem, uplifted by his arrival,
27 departed into the fields, laying waste to the vineyards, and trampling the grapes. And while singing and dancing, they entered into the shrine of their god. And while feasting and drinking, they cursed Abimelech.
28 And Gaal, the son of Ebed, cried out: “Who is Abimelech, and what is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, who has appointed Zebul, his servant, as ruler over the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem? Why then should we serve him?
29 I wish that someone would set this people under my hand, so that I might take away Abimelech from their midst.” And it was told to Abimelech, “Gather the multitude of an army, and approach.”
30 For Zebul, the ruler of the city, upon hearing the words of Gaal, the son of Ebed, became very angry.
31 And he sent messengers secretly to Abimelech, saying: “Behold, Gaal, the son of Ebed, has arrived at Shechem with his brothers, and he has set the city against you.
32 And so, rise up in the night, with the people who are with you, and lie hidden in the field.
33 And at first light in the morning, as the sun is rising, rush upon the city. And when he goes out against you, with his people, do to him what you are able to do.”
34 And so Abimelech rose up, with all his army, by night, and he set ambushes near Shechem in four places.
35 And Gaal, the son of Ebed, went out, and he stood at the entrance to the gate of the city. Then Abimelech rose up, and all the army with him, from the places of the ambushes.
36 And when Gaal had seen the people, he said to Zebul, “Behold, a multitude is descending from the mountains.” And he responded to him, “You are seeing the shadows of the mountains, as if they were the heads of men, and so you are being deceived by this error.”
37 Again, Gaal said, “Behold, a people is descending from the middle of the land, and one company is arriving by the way that looks towards the oak.”
38 And Zebul said to him: “Where is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Is this not the people that you were despising? Go out and fight against him.”
39 Therefore, Gaal went out, with the people of Shechem watching, and he fought against Abimelech,
40 who pursued him, fleeing, and drove him into the city. And many were cut down on his side, even to the gate of the city.
41 And Abimelech made camp at Arumah. But Zebul expelled Gaal and his companions from the city, and he would not permit them to remain in it.
42 Therefore, on the following day, the people departed into the field. And when this had been reported to Abimelech,
43 he took his army, and divided it into three companies, and he placed ambushes in the fields. And seeing that the people had departed from the city, he rose up and rushed upon them,
44 along with his own company, assaulting and besieging the city. But the two other companies pursued the enemies scattered in the field.
45 Now Abimelech assaulted the city all that day. And he seized it, and he killed its inhabitants, and he destroyed it, so much so that he scattered salt in it.
46 And when those living in the tower of Shechem had heard about this, they entered the temple of their god, Berith, where they had formed a covenant with him. And it was because of this, that the place had taken its name. And it was greatly fortified.
47 Abimelech, also hearing that the men of the tower of Shechem had joined together,
48 ascended to mount Zalmon, with all his people. And taking an axe, he cut down the branch of a tree. And laying it on his shoulder, and carrying it, he said to his companions, “What you see me do, you must do quickly.”
49 And so, eagerly cutting down branches from the trees, they followed their leader. And surrounding the fortified place, they set it on fire. And so it happened that, by smoke and fire, one thousand persons died, men and women together, the occupants of the tower of Shechem.
50 Then Abimelech, setting out from there, arrived at the town of Thebez, which he surrounded and besieged with his army.
51 Now there was, in the midst of the city, a high tower, to which men and women were fleeing together, with all the leaders of the city. And, having very strongly sealed the gate, they were standing on the roof of the tower to defend themselves.
52 And Abimelech, drawing near the tower, fought valiantly. And approaching the gate, he strove to set it on fire.
53 And behold, one woman, throwing a fragment of a millstone from above, struck the head of Abimelech, and broke his skull.
Death of Abimelech at Thebez
54 And he quickly called to his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and strike me, otherwise it may be said that I was slain by a woman.” And, doing as he was ordered, he killed him.
55 And when he was dead, all those of Israel who were with him returned to their homes.
56 And so did God repay the evil that Abimelech had done against his father by killing his seventy brothers.
57 The Shechemites also were given retribution for what they had done, and the curse of Jotham, the son of Jerubbaal, fell upon them.