Reading 70/341, Judges 8-9

[A] Congratulations. With today's reading, you have made it 20% of the way. One fifth down, four to go.
[B] Remember that Gideon is another name of Jerubbaal.

...Judges...

The men of Ephraim said to Gideon, “Why have you treated us this way, that you did not call us, when you went to fight with Midian?” They argued with him sharply. He said to them, “What have I now done in comparison with you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the whole harvest of Abiezer? God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb. What was I able to do in comparison with you?” Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that. Gideon came to the Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing. He said to the men of Succoth, “Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.” The princes of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?” Gideon said, “Okay. When the Lord has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the desert and with briers.” He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in like manner, and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.” Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east, for 120,000 men who drew sword had fallen. Gideon went up by the way of the tent dwellers, on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army, for the army was secure. Zebah and Zalmunna fled, and he pursued after them, and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused the whole army.

Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him, and he named for him the princes of Succoth, and the elders of it: 77 men. He came to the men of Succoth, and said, “See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’ He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the desert and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. He broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city. Then he said to Zebah and Zalmunna, “Where are the men whom you killed at Tabor?” They answered, “As you are, so were they; each one resembled the son of a king.” He said, “They were my brothers, the sons of my mother, as the Lord lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.” He said to Jether his firstborn, “Get up, and kill them.” But the youth did not draw his sword; for he was afraid, because he was still a youth. Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Rise yourself, and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength.” Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels' necks. Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule you over us, both you, and your son, and your son's son also, for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.” Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you, the Lord shall rule over you.” Gideon said to them, “I would make a request of you, that you would each give me the earrings of his spoil.” (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) They answered, “We will willingly give them.” They spread a garment, and every man cast on it the earrings of his spoil. The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was 1700 shekels of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels' necks. Gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, in Ophrah, and all Israel whored after it there, and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house. So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more.

The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon. Jerubbaal, the son of Joash, went and lived in his own house. Gideon had seventy sons conceived from his body, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem, also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. It happened, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and whored after the Baals, and made Baal-berith their god. The children of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side, nor did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel. Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother's brothers, and spoke with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, “Please speak in the ears of all the men of Shechem, whether it is better for you that all the sons of Jerubbaal, who are 70 people, rule over you, or that one rule over you? Remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.” His mother's brothers spoke all these words of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem, and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our brother.” They gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith, with which Abimelech hired vain and reckless fellows, who followed him. He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and killed his brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, 70 men, on one stone, but Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. All the men of Shechem assembled themselves together, and all the house of Millo, and went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar that was in Shechem.

When they told it to Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, that God may listen to you. Once upon a time, the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my abundance, with which gods and men are honored, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’ The trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’ The trees said to the vine, ‘Come and reign over us. The vine said to them, ‘Should I leave my new wine, which cheers God and man, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘Come and reign over us.’ The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ Now therefore, if you have dealt truly and righteously, when you have made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done to him according to the deserving of his deeds (for my father fought for you, and risked his life, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian, and you are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, 70 men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother, if you then have dealt truly and righteously with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you, but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo, and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.” Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and lived there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.

Abimelech was prince over Israel three years. God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem, and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, that the violence done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might return, that their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. The men of Shechem set an ambush for him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way, and this was told to Abimelech. Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers, and went over to Shechem, and the men of Shechem put their trust in him. They went out into the field, and gathered their vineyards, and trod the grapes, and held festival, and went into the house of their god, and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is not he the son of Jerubbaal? And is not Zebul his officer? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem, but why should we serve him? Would that this people were under my hand! Then I would remove Abimelech. He said to Abimelech, “Increase your army, and come out.” When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. He sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers are come to Shechem, and behold, they stir up the city against you. Now therefore, go up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field, and it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early, and rush on the city, and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, then do to them as you shall find opportunity.”

Abimelech rose up, and all the people who were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies. Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and Abimelech rose up, and the people who were with him, from the ambush. When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Behold, people are coming down from the mountains-tops.” Zebul said to him, “You mistake the shadows of the mountains for men.” Gaal spoke again and said, “Behold, there come people down by the middle of the land, and one company comes by the way of the oak of Meonenim.” Then Zebul said to him, “Where is your mouth now, that you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people that you have despised? Go out now, I pray, and fight with them.” Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many fell wounded, to the entrance of the gate. Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, that they could not dwell in Shechem. It happened on the next day, that the people went out into the field. Abimelech was told, so he took the people and divided them into three companies and laid wait in the field, and he looked, and behold, the people came forth out of the city. He rose up against them, and struck them. Abimelech, and the companies that were with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, and the two companies rushed on all who were in the field, and struck them. Abimelech fought against the city all that day, and he took the city, and killed the people who were in it, and he beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

When all the men of the tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered into the stronghold of the house of Elberith. It was told to Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. Abimelech got up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him, and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it up, and laid it on his shoulder, and he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.” All the people likewise cut down, every man cut his own bough, and followed Abimelech, and laid them before the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire with them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died also, about 1000 men and women. Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and there fled all the men and women, and all of the city, and shut themselves in, and they got up to the roof of the tower. Abimelech came to the tower, and fought against it, and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. A certain woman cast an upper millstone on Abimelech's head, and broke his skull. Then he called hastily to the young man his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword, and kill me, so that men will not say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” His young man thrust him through, and he died. When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, every man departed to his own place. Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did to his father, in killing his 70 brothers, and all the wickedness of the men of Shechem, God repaid on their heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

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