IN THE SCRIPTURES SO FAR WE HAVE SEEN EXAMPLE AFTER EXAMPLE, LESSON AFTER LESSON, AND APPLICATION AFTER APPLICATION OF YAHUSHA'S PATTERS AND PRINCIPLES, AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY ARE FOLLOWED OBEDIENTLY, AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY ARE ABANDONED.
GIDEON RULED AS A LEGITIMATE JUDGE (SHOPHET) OF YISHARAL FOR 40 YEARS. HE WAS YAHUSHA APPOINTED, YAHUSHA ANOINTED, AND PERFORMED IN THE TYPICAL WAY OF A JUDGE OF THAT ERA: HE WAS FIRST A DELIVERER OF SOME PORTION OF YISHARAL FROM THE HAND OF AN OPPRESSOR AND THEN HE RULED FOR A TIME. AS WAS ALSO TYPICAL, QUICKLY AFTER EACH JUDGE DIED FROM OLD AGE THE PEOPLE OF YISHARAL WOULD HARDEN THEIR HEARTS AND REVERT TO IDOLATRY (HOWEVER IN THIS CASE GIDEON CONTRIBUTED TO IT FROM THE GET-GO). USUALLY EACH CYCLE EXPLAINS THAT THE PEOPLE FORGOT OR ABANDONED YAHUSHA, THEIR ALAHIM, DESPITE THE WONDERFUL AND FULLY VISIBLE THINGS HE DID FOR THEM. BUT HERE WE ALSO SEE THAT THE PEOPLE SHOWED NO KINDNESS TO THE DESCENDANTS OF GIDEON (CALLED JERUBA’AL, MEANING THE BA’AL FIGHTER). IN HEBREW IT SAYS THAT THE PEOPLE OFFERED NO CHESED, WHICH IN THIS CONTEXT CARRIES WITH IT THE CONCEPT OF BLOOD-COVENANT LOYALTY.
CHESED IN HEBREW CULTURE MEANS ACTS OF CHARITY, MERCY, AND KINDNESS; IT ALSO TILTS TOWARDS ALL THESE ACTS BEING DONE OUT OF A SENSE OF OBEDIENCE TO YAHUSHA AND (TO A LESSER DEGREE) LOYALTY TO A PERSON WHO MERITS SUCH LOYALTY. WE KNOW THAT WHILE GIDEON HAD OFFICIALLY AND PUBLICLY REJECTED KINGSHIP OVER THE PEOPLE, IN MANY WAYS HE LIVED AND BEHAVED (AND IN MANY WAYS) RULED JUST LIKE ROYALTY. SO THERE MUST HAVE BEEN SOME KIND OF SEMI-FORMAL RELATIONSHIP OR AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CENTRAL-NORTHERN TRIBES OF YISHARAL THAT HE JUDGED OVER, SUCH THAT HIS FAMILY WAS SEEN AS THE RIGHTFUL RULING FAMILY (A CONCEPT QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF THE EARLIER JUDGES WHEREBY A JUDGE WAS LESS A RULER AND MORE OF A POWERFUL MAGISTRATE).
SO THE CONTEXT OF THIS ACCOUNT TODAY IS SET IN THE BACKGROUND THAT SHOWS THAT AT THE VERY LEAST, PORTIONS OF YISHARAL WERE WARMING TO THE IDEA OF A MONARCHY RULING OVER THEM, INFACT SOME WANTED A KING RIGHT THEN AND NOW.
THERE ARE 4 IMPORTANT LESSONS THAT WE CAN GLEAN FROM THE ACCOUNT OF GIDEON, AND THESE WILL CARRY OVER INTO THE NEXT CHAPTERS.
1. WHEN YAHUSHA IS THE LEADER, WHEN YAHUSHA STANDS WITH YISHARAL, NO MAN AND NO ARMY AND NO POWER CAN STAND AGAINST THEM. THAT A MERE 300 YISHARALITE MEN WHO WERE PERSONALLY HAND-PICKED BY YAHUSHA COULD ENGAGE IN A SET-APART WAR AGAINST 135,000 ENEMY AND PREVAIL, SHOULD PUT SUCH JOY AND COURAGE INTO OUR HEARTS IF WE HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT THE SCRIPTURE IS THE TRUTH.
2. IF ANYTHING OF A POSITIVE NATURE OCCURS IN THE LIVES OF YAHUSHA’S PEOPLE, IT IS YAHUSHA’S DOING AND HE DESERVES ALL ESTEEM AND HONOUR FOR IT.
3. THE WORLD WILL NEVER BE THE BIGGEST ROADBLOCK TO YAHUSHA’S PEOPLE CARRYING OUT HIS WILL ON EARTH. RATHER IT WILL ALWAYS BE THE LACK OF OBEDIENCE OF THE BELIEVERS. JUST AS YISHARAL WAS PROBLEMATIC FOR YAHUSHA TO WORK WITH (EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE CHOSEN AND SET APART FOR HIM BY HIM) SO IT IS WITH THE BRIDE TODAY. YISHARAL WAS REDEEMED, BUT THEY DIDN’T ALWAYS BEHAVE THAT WAY. THE BRIDE IS, BY DEFINITION, A FELLOWSHIP OF THE REDEEMED OF YAHUSHA BUT WE SURE DON’T ALWAYS BEHAVE THAT WAY, DO WE? IN THE END WE’RE STILL JUST PEOPLE, RUNNING AROUND IN CORRUPTIBLE BODIES OF FLESH, AND STILL FIGHTING OUR EVIL INCLINATIONS THAT WANT TO DO WRONG EVEN THOUGH YAHUSHA’S VERY SPIRIT LIVES WITHIN US. THEREFORE WE SAW THE LEADERS OF SUCCOTH AND PENUEL (WHO WERE FELLOW-YISHARALITES, FELLOW-REDEEMED) LITERALLY STANDING IN THE WAY OF YAHUSHA’S ARMY OF 300 WHO WERE PURSUING YAHUSHA’S ENEMIES AT YAHUSHA’S DIRECTION.
WE SAW AN ARROGANT GROUP (EPHRAIM) WHO HELD THEMSELVES UP AS THE BEST AND MOST WORTHY OF ALL OF YISHARAL BECAUSE THEY WERE THE LARGEST AND WEALTHIEST OF THE TRIBES IN THAT ERA. YAHUSHA DIDN’T PUT THIS GROUP IN CHARGE OF THIS SET-APART WAR BUT THEY THOUGHT THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN; SO THEY DID THEIR PART IN TRYING TO DERAIL GIDEON OR PERHAPS (MORE TO THE POINT) THEY TRIED TO JUMP IN WHEN THEY SAW SUCCESS AND TAKE OVER. DO WE NOT SEE THIS EXACT RELIGIOUS CARPET-BAGGING BEHAVIOUR IN THE BELIEVERS TODAY? THERE ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT BY VIRTUE OF SHEER NUMBERS, OR THE SIZE OF THEIR CONGREGATIONAL BUILDING, OR THE AMOUNT OF FACE-TIME THEY HAVE ON TV OR SOCIAL MEDIA, IT IS THEY WHO OUGHT TO LEAD AND BE THW AUTHORITY ON WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG AND ACCEPTIBLE BEHAVIOUR IN A CERTAIN MOVEMENT; AND IF THEY DO NOT BLESS SOMETHING IT SHOULDN'T BE DONE BECAUSE IT MUSTN'T BE OF YAHUSHA BECAUSE IT DIDN'T COE THROUGH THEM . . . YES, SADLY, EVEN MOST OF THOSE IMMERSED INTO YAHUSHA'S TRUE NAME (THE MAIDENS) BEHAVE THIS WAY (AT LEAST HALF DO ANYWAY - AND IF THEY DON'T STOP IT THEY'LL BE THE UNWISE).
4. THE FOURTH LESSON IS ONE THAT WILL SET THE STAGE FOR OUR CHAPTER HERE TODAY. IT’S A LESSON ABOUT LEADERSHIP. IT IS THAT THOSE WHO ACCEPT A LEADERSHIP ROLE AT THE CALL OF YAHUSHA ARE GOING TO FACE GREAT TEMPTATION TO ABANDON THAT ROLE AND THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF WHATEVER THE SPECIFIC CAUSE, FOR PERSONAL AMBITIONS. OF COURSE PERSONAL AMBITIONS TEND TO BLIND US AND WE TEND TO DENY AND RATIONALISE IT WHEN WE SUCCUMB TO THOSE TEMPTATIONS AND MAKE EXCUSES, BUT IT'S BEST TO FACE THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR BEHAVIOUR WHEN YAHUSHA BRINGS IT TO US.
GIDEON INITIALLY (AND RIGHTLY TO HIS MERIT) REJECTED THE TEMPTATION OF KINGSHIP OVER HIS PEOPLE, YET IT SEEMS THAT IN REALITY HE ONLY REJECTED THE TITLE BECAUSE HE LIVED LIKE A KING AND INSTILLED THE SAME BEHAVIOUR IN HIS MANY SONS. FURTHER HE SEEMED TO HAVE NO QUALMS OF CREATING FOR HIMSELF A POSITION AS A SORT OF HIGH-PRIEST, COMPLETE WITH THE EPHOD OF THE HIGH-PRIEST, AND EVEN BUILT A WORSHIP CENTRE IN HIS HOMETOWN OF OPHRAH THAT WAS IN DIRECT COMPETITION WITH THE OFFICIAL ONE LOCATED IN SHILOH (WHERE THE ARK WAS AT THIS POINT). THE RESULT WAS THAT THE DELIVERER OF YISHARAL ACTUALLY LED THE PEOPLE RIGHT BACK INTO IDOLATRY AND REBELLION, AND THE PATH WAS PAVED WITH HIS OWN AMBITIONS AND THE GOLD OF THE FALSE EPHOD HE ANOINTED HIMSELF WITH. BECAUSE HE WAS THE LEADER OF YISHARAL, HIS FAMILY AND THE PEOPLE OF YISHARAL WOULD PAY A TERRIBLE PRICE FOR HIS BEHAVIOUR.
Abimelech (the son of Gideon) went to Shechem, and while there, he met with his mother’s relatives and told them to say to the leaders of Shechem, “Do you think it would be good to have all seventy of Gideon’s sons ruling us? Wouldn’t you rather have just one man be King? Abimelech would make a good King, and he’s related to us.”
So Abimelech’s uncles talked it over with the leaders of Shechem, who agreed, “Yes, it would be better for one of our relatives to be King.” Then they gave Abimelech seventy pieces of silver from the temple of their deity Baal-Berith.
WHILE GIDEON WAS A COMMON MAN, RAISED UP BY YAHUSHA TO BE A JUDGE (SERVING YAHUSHA TO DELIVER HIS PEOPLE FROM OPPRESSION), ABIMELECH WAS BORN INTO PRIVILEGE, APPOINTED HIMSELF AS A KING, THEN SERVED ONLY HIS OWN PERSONAL LUST FOR POWER IN ORDER TO OPPRESS THE PEOPLE. THAT'S BAD ENOUGH ON IT OWN, BUT ABIMELECH WAS GIDEON’S OWN SON !!
THE ACCOUNT OF ABIMELECH MAKES IT CLEAR THAT HIS MOTHER WAS HIS FATHER’S CONCUBINE (AS OPPOSED TO THE LARGE NUMBER OF LEGAL WIVES THAT GIDEON MARRIED). A CONCUBINE WAS NOT A PERSONAL PROSTITUTE NOR WAS SHE A SLAVE; BUT SHE DID HOLD A SOMEWHAT LESSER STATUS IN THE HOUSEHOLD THAN A LEGAL WIFE WHO WAS MARRIED UNDER A CHUPPAH (A TRADITIONAL WEDDING CANOPY) AND SUPPORTED BY THE LEGALITY OF A KETUBAH (A MARRIAGE DOCUMENT). BUT ONE NEEDS TO ASK THE QUESTION:
IF GIDEON HAD AS MANY AS (POSSIBLY) 70 LEGAL WIVES WHY HAVE THIS ONE UNNAMED WOMAN AS A CONCUBINE? WHILE WE CAN’T BE 100% SURE, I THINK THE REASON IS SELF-EVIDENT: THE LEGAL WIVES WERE HEBREW WOMEN AND LEGALLY ENTITLED TO A FORMAL MARRIAGE CEREMONY AND MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE. ABIMELECH’S MOTHER WAS NOT A HEBREW, BUT A CANAANITE OF SHECHEM (PROBABLY, MORE ACCURATELY, A HIVITE). THUS ABIMELECH WAS BORN INTO A DIVIDED LOYALTY; HE WAS PART-HEBREW AND PART-CANAANITE. NOW THIS WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN ALL THAT UNUSUAL IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE FACT THAT HIS FATHER WAS THE SUPREME LEADER OF YISHARAL AND A SELF-STYLED HIGH-PRIEST !!
SO ABIMELECH MUST HAVE BEEN CONSTANTLY AT ODDS WITH HIS HEBREW SIBLINGS (ALL BORN TO OTHER MOTHERS), AND ABIMELECH ALSO SEEMS TO HAVE HAD A PROPENSITY TO IDENTIFY MORE WITH HIS CANAANITE FAMILY-SIDE THAN HIS YISHARALITE SIDE. THIS SHOULDN’T BE HARD FOR US TO IMAGINE, WE’VE SEEN THIS EXACT DYNAMIC IN OUR EXTENDED FAMILIES, WITNESSED IT IN COUNTLESS OTHERS AND DEFINITELY WHEN ALTERNATE PARENTS AND STEP-PARENTS ARE INVOLVED (AS IN TODAY’S BLENDED FAMILIES). WE ALL HAVE A GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF THIS RATHER TYPICAL FAMILY CHALLENGE OF DIVIDED LOYALTIES AND TENDENCY TO BUILD ALLIANCES AND CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE PART OF THE FAMILY AS OPPOSED TO THE OTHER. BUT IT USUALLY HAPPENS QUITE NATURALLY, AND NOT FROM ANY KIND OF PLAN OR OVERT INTENT.
WE ALSO WITNESSED THIS KIND OF THING WITH MOSES WHO WAS ADOPTED AS AN INFANT BY AN EGYPTIAN WOMAN. MOSES COULD NEVER QUITE FIT IN WITH HIS EGYPTIAN FAMILY, AND SO FOUND HIMSELF IN CONSTANT INTERNAL TURMOIL AS HE DAILY SAW THE INJUSTICE UPON HIS BIOLOGICAL AND HEREDITARY FAMILY AND PEOPLE. SO TO ACHIEVE HIS AMBITIONS ABIMELECH WENT TO THE CITY OF HIS MOTHER’S ORIGIN (SHECHEM), AND SOLICITED SUPPORT FROM HER BROTHERS AND HER FATHER, PROPOSING THAT THEY CHOOSE HIM TO RULE OVER THEM OR THEY'D BE SUBJECT TO 70 OTHER MEN (GIDEON’S HEBREW SONS) RULING OVER THEM.
NOW IMPORTANT IN THIS CONVERSATION IS THAT ABIMELECH WAS PART-CANAANITE AS OPPOSED TO ANY OF HIS BROTHERS, AND IT WAS UNDERSTOOD IN THESE TRIBAL CULTURES THAT BLOOD REALLY REALLY MATTERED; THE FAMILY OF THE LEADER OR RULER WOULD HAVE ADVANTAGES. SINCE IT IS TAKEN FOR GRANTED THAT THE 70 SONS OF GIDEON WERE HEBREWS, THEY (ON THE OTHER HAND) WOULD BE MORE INCLINED TO SHOW FAVOUR FOR THEIR YISHARALITE PEOPLE OVER AND ABOVE THE CANAANITES WHO LIVED AMONG THEM.
SO WE’RE TOLD THAT THIS SEEMED TO MAKE SENSE TO HIS MOTHER’S FAMILY, SO THEY TOOK ABIMELECH’S PROPOSITION TO THE OTHER RESIDENTS OF SHECHEM AND CAMPAIGNED FOR IT. SHECHEM WAS A MIXED CITY; IT CONSISTED OF CANAANITES AND HEBREWS LIVING SIDE-BY-SIDE (YOU CAN BET THAT THERE HAD ALSO BEEN MUCH INTER-MARRIAGE). IN FACT IT WAS A MOSTLY HEBREW CITY, AND IT WAS GENERALLY UNDER YISHARALITE CONTROL, SO IT’S NOT HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHY ABIMELECH’S MOTHER’S FAMILY WOULD SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE (AS IT’S GOVERNOR) SOMEONE WHO IS AT LEAST MORE SYMPATHETIC TO THE CANAANITES DUE TO A CANAANITE HERITAGE.
YET THERE WAS MORE TO THIS THAN MEETS THE EYE; SHECHEM WAS A STRATEGICALLY IMPORTANT CITY. IT LAY AT A CROSSROADS OF MAJOR TRADE ROUTES THAT WOVE THROUGH THE AREA. SHECHEM WAS ALSO WELL SITUATED IN A VERY FERTILE VALLEY. AND JUST AS KEY WAS THAT SHECHEM WAS CENTRAL IN YISHARAL’S HERITAGE AND HISTORY, AND IT WAS BOTH A PLACE OF SPIRITUAL AND CULTURAL IMPORTANCE TO THE YISHARALITES. SO IF ABIMELECH COULD GAIN CONTROL OF SHECHEM (AS OPPOSED TO SOME OTHER LESS REVERED TOWNS) IT WOULD GIVE HIM A POLITICAL PLATFORM, A MEASURE OF CREDIBILITY, AND HE WOULD BE ABLE TO EXTRACT THE USUAL TAXES FROM THE MANY CARAVANS THAT NECESSARILY HAD TO PASS THROUGH HIS TERRITORY.
BECAUSE ABIMELECH IS APPEALING TO CANAANITES, HE USES THE TERM BA’ALS (HE WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO GET THE FAVOR OF YISHARALITES, WHO WERE APARANTLY LOYAL TO YAHUSHA). THUS WHEN WE SEE THE EDITOR OF JUDGES USE THE NAME JERUBA’AL TO REFER TO ABIMELECH’S HEBREW FATHER, GIDEON, IT IS TO MAKE A POINT. JERUBA’AL (GIDEON) CUT DOWN BA’AL’S IMAGE AND FOUGHT BA’AL’S PEOPLE BECAUSE HE WAS AN ENEMY OF BA’AL, WHILE ABIMELECH IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WITH BA’AL AND BA’AL’S PEOPLE AS A FRIEND OF BA’AL. ABIMELECH’S MATERNAL FAMILY IS SO CONNECTED TO BA’AL THAT THEY GO AND TAKE 70 PIECES OF SILVER FROM BA’AL’S TEMPLE (CALLED BA’AL B’RIT OR THE COVENANT OF BA’AL) IN ORDER TO HELP ABIMELECH SUCCEED. THEY DIDN’T STEAL THE MONEY OR DO SOMETHING WRONG. USING TEMPLE TREASURY MONEY FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES WAS QUITE NORMAL IN THOSE DAYS. THE MONEY WAS USED TO HIRE SOME GOOD-FOR-NOTHINGS TO DO ABIMELECH’S BIDDING. THESE HIRELINGS WOULD BE USED AS ASSASSINS TO KILL ALL OF GIDEON’S SONS.
So Abimelech used the silver to hire a gang of reckless, worthless, roughians who would do anything for money. And Abimelech and his 'hit-men' went to his father’s home in Ophrah and brought out all of his brothers (Gideon’s other sons) to a large rock, where they murdered all seventy of them! But Gideon’s youngest son Jotham hid from the soldiers and was the only one who escaped. Then the leaders of Shechem, including the priests and the
military officers, met at the tree next to the sacred rock in Shechem to crown Abimelech their King.
THIS IS ABIMELECH’S CORONATION, BUT JUST WHAT WAS HE WAS KING OVER? THERE WERE ONLY 4 TOWNS UNDER HIS RULE: SHECHEM, BETH-MILLO, ARUMAH, AND THEBEZ. HIS TERRITORY PROBABLY EXTENDED A LITTLE FURTHER INTO PARTS OF THE WESTERN TRIBAL AREA OF MENASSEH (NOT MUCH OF A REIGN). LET’S ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT WHILE THIS MAN SAW HIMSELF AS A KING AT THE HEAD OF A MONARCHY, IN FACT HE WAS MERELY A TYRANNICAL DICTATOR AND A MURDERER. HE RULED RUTHLESSLY AND VENGEFULLY AND VERY UNWISELY. HE WAS A THUG, LIKE FIDEL CASTRO OR SADDAM HUSSEIN. HE CARED NOTHING FOR THE PEOPLE, AND DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO BUILD AN ECONOMY OR HOW TO CREATE LOYALTIES AND ALLIANCES. ARCHEOLOGISTS HAVE ACTUALLY UNCOVERED ABIMELECH’S PLACE OF CORONATION; THE PILLAR USED WAS PROBABLY FROM JOSHUA’S DAY. THE TEMPLE OF BA’AL BRIT IS ALSO IN THE MIDST OF EXCAVATION. THUS WE HAVE GIDEON’S SON BEING MADE KING OF (PART OF) YISHARAL, IN COVENANT-AGREEMENT WITH CANAANITES AND TAKING HIS VOW IN THE NAME OF BA’AL.
But Jotham (Gideon’s youngest son who’d escaped) heard what they were doing, so he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down to the people who were there at the meeting.RECALL THAT SHECHEM LAY AT THE BASE OF THE TWIN MOUNTAINS EBAL AND GERIZIM, SO GERIZIM WAS QUITE AN APPROPRIATE PLACE FOR THIS SPEECH.
“Leaders of Shechem, listen to me and maybe Alahim will listen to you".ALMOST 2 CENTURIES EARLIER JOSHUA STOOD ON THIS SAME SPOT AND RECONFIRMED YISHARAL’S COVENANT WITH YAHUSHA; NOW JOTHAM WOULD USE IT AS HIS PULPIT. AND HE BEGINS HIS PARABLE OF WARNING TO THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM WITH THE WORDS, “SHEMA MEN OF SHECHEM THAT ALAHIM MIGHT SHEMA TO YOU”. REMEMBER THAT SHEMA DOESN’T ONLY MEAN TO LISTEN; IT MEANS TO DO WHAT IT IS YOU HEAR. SHEMA DEMANDS ACTION NOT JUST PASSIVE ACKNOWLEDGMENT. IT IS ALSO INSTRUCTIVE THAT JOTHAM USED THE GENERIC WORD OF THAT DAY FOR YAHUSHA, ALAHIM, INSTEAD OF YAHUSHA’S FORMAL NAME (YAHUAH AT THAT TIME). BY DOING SO EACH MAN COULD FILL IN THE BLANKS OF JUST WHOM HE REGARDED AS ALAHIM. REMEMBER JOTHAM WAS TALKING TO AN AUDIENCE OF CANAANITES, FALLEN YISHARALITES, AND PEOPLE OF MIXED HERITAGE AND SPIRITUAL LOYALTIES.
"Once the trees (REPRESENTING THE CITIZENS OF SHECHEM) searched for someone to be King, and they asked the olive tree, 'Will you be our King?' But the olive tree replied, 'My oil brings honor to people and deities. I won’t stop making oil just to have my branches wave above the other trees.'
Then they asked the fig tree, 'Will you be our King?' But the fig tree replied, 'I won’t stop growing my delicious fruit just to have my branches wave above the other trees.'
Next they asked the grape-vine, 'Will you be our King?' But the grape-vine replied, 'My wine brings cheer to people and deities so I won’t stop making wine just to have my branches wave above the other trees.'
Finally, they went to the thornbush (bramble) and asked, 'Will you be our King?' And the thornbush replied, 'If you really want me to be your King, then come into my shade and I'll protect you. But if you’re deceiving me, I’ll start a fire that will spread out and destroy even the cedars of Lebanon.'
THE OLIVE TREE PRODUCES OIL FOR THE ESTEEM OF YAHUSHA AND FOR USE BY MEN; YAHUSHA CREATED IT FOR THIS PURPOSE AND IT IS A HIGH CALLING. SO THE OLIVE TREE SAYS THAT TO GIVE UP THIS CALLING MERELY TO LEISURELY WAVE TO AND FRO OVER SOME OTHER TREES WOULD BE A WASTE OF IT’S PURPOSE AND GIFTING.
THE FIG TREE EXPLAINS THAT YAHUSHA CREATED IT TO PRODUCE WONDERFUL SWEET FRUIT FOR EATING. FIGS WERE THE STAPLE FRUIT OF THAT REGION AND HIGHLY PRIZED. AND THE FIG TREE SAYS 'WHY WOULD I LEAVE THAT PRODUCTION OF SWEETNESS AND GOODNESS BEHIND JUST TO RULE OVER SOME OTHER TREES?'
THE VINE PRODUCES GRAPES THAT, LIKE THE OLIVE TREE, ARE USED TO BOTH BRING JOY TO YAHUSHA AND MAN. TO YAHUSHA IT PRODUCES THE DRINK-OFFERING (WINE) THAT IS NECESSARY TO MANY SACRIFICES AND CELEBRATIONS. FOR MAN IT WAS THE PRINCIPLE BEVERAGE IN VIRTUALLY EVERY HOME. IT SOOTHED THE STOMACH, TASTED WONDERFUL, AND BROUGHT AN EXTRA MEASURE OF JOY TO PARTIES AND CELEBRATIONS. THE VINE SAYS WHY SHOULD I EXCHANGE SUCH A WONDERFUL PURPOSE AND PRIVILEGE SIMPLY TO BE ABOVE SOME OTHER TREES?
THE TREES WERE ASKING THE OLIVE, FIG AND GRAPEVINE TO LEAVE BEHIND THEIR YAHUSHA-GIVEN USEFULNESS IN EXCHANGE FOR WHAT MEN SEE AS A HIGHER SOCIAL STATUS. WISE MEN UNDERSTAND THAT TO TAKE ON A LEADERSHIP ROLE MUST BE THE ROLE YAHUSHA INTENDED FOR THEM AND NOT JUST A PERSONAL AMBITION, OR THE MOTIVES ARE ALL WRONG. FURTHER IT IS ALWAYS BEST AND MORE SATISFYING TO BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE ONE WAS CREATED, RATHER THAN WISHING WE WERE CREATED FOR ANOTHER AND DIFFERENT PURPOSE THAT MOST MEN SEE AS MORE IMPORTANT. TO ABANDON OUR YAHUSHA-GIVEN GIFTS AND ASSIGNMENT IN HIS REIGN IN FAVOR OF SOMETHING THAT PERSONALLY PLEASES US OR OTHER MEN IS A TERRIBLE MISUSE OF THOSE GIFTS.
OUR VALUE TO THE REIGN IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE IN WHOM YAHUSHA MADE US TO BE, NOT IN HOW THE WORLD SEES US OR HOW WE WOULD PREFER TO SEE OURSELVES IN THE WORLD. TRUE CONTENTMENT AND PEACE IS FOUND IN BEING TRAINED BY YAHUSHA, TO DISCOVER THOSE DIVINE GIFTS AND PURPOSES AND ABIDE IN THEM ALL OF OUR DAYS FOR GOOD SERVICE TO YAHUSHA AND MANKIND.
BUT THE TREES OF JOTHAM’S PARABLE HAD SO FAR FAILED IN FINDING A KING SO THEY WENT TO WHAT THEY SAW AS THEIR LAST RESORT: THORN-BUSH (THE BRAMBLE). THE THORN-BUSH IS THE LOWEST GRADE OF PLANT LIFE AND SO ANY OTHER POSITION THAN THE ONE IT NATURALLY HOLDS WOULD BE A PROMOTION!
THE THORN-BUSH IS HARD, FULL OF THORNS AND STICKERS, AND LIES LIKE A CARPET ON THE SURFACE OF THE GROUND. A THORN-BUSH PRODUCES NO FRUIT AND NO JOY. IT IS WORTHLESS BUT TO CAUSE HARM AND BE A MENACE TO FARMERS AND OTHER PLANTS. IT WAS ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS WHEN IT TURNED BRITTLE AND DRY AND COULD EASILY CATCH FIRE, SPREADING AT AN AMAZING RATE DRIVEN BY THE HOT WINDS. AND WHEN IT BURNED IT CAUGHT OTHER PLANTS ON FIRE AS WELL.
SO THE THORN-BUSH REPLIES THAT IT WILL AGREE TO BE THEIR KING, BUT THEY MUST COME DOWN AND “TAKE SHELTER UNDER ITS SHADE”. AND IF THEY CONFER KINGSHIP ON IT BUT WON’T SHELTER IN ITS SHADE THEN THE THORN-BUSH WILL BURN ALL THE TREES DOWN. OF COURSE WHAT IS PORTRAYED HERE IS AN ABSURDITY OF SORTS. BRAMBLES CLING SO CLOSELY TO THE GROUND THAT THEY PRODUCE NO USABLE SHADE EXCEPT PERHAPS FOR UNCLEAN INSECTS AND REPTILES. THE REFERENCE OF THE PARABLE TO THE BRAMBLE BURNING DOWN THE CEDARS OF LEBANON IS THAT THE CEDARS WERE CONSIDERED THE GRANDEST AND GREATEST OF ALL THE TREES IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THEREFORE THE BRAMBLE IS SAYING THAT ITS FIERY WRATH AT THOSE WHO WILL NOT SUBMIT TO THE “SHELTER IN ITS SHADE”IS SO HOT THAT EVEN THE GREATEST OF THE TREES WILL BE DESTROYED.
And after Jotham had finished telling this story, he said: "My father Gideon risked his life for you when he fought to rescue you from the Midianites. But did you reward him by being kind to his family? Hell No, you did not! You attacked his family and killed all of his sons on that rock. And was it right to make Abimelech your King? He’s merely the son of my father’s slave girl. But just because he’s your relative, you made him King of Shechem. So, you leaders of Shechem, if you treated Gideon and his family the way you should have, then I hope you and Abimelech will make each other very very happy. But if it was infact wrong to treat Gideon and his family with such abuse, then Abimelech will destroy you with fire, and you’ll do the same to him”.
THEN COMES THE CURSE. JOTHAM SAYS THAT IF THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM HAVE DONE A GOOD, OBEDIENT, HONOURABLE THING IN ANOINTING ABIMELECH, AND HAVE BEEN HONEST AND FAIR WITH JERUBA’AL’S (GIDEON’S) FAMILY AND DESCENDANTS, THEN ALL WELL AND GOOD. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE SINCE WHETHER THE CITIZENS OF SHECHEM ARE CANAANITE, YISHARALITE, OR FOREIGNERS, JETHOM’S FATHER GIDEON RISKED HIS LIFE FOR THEIR BENEFIT. EVERYONE IN THE LAND OF CANAAN SUFFERED WHEN THE MIDIANITES AND AMALEKITES CAME AND STOLE THE HARVESTS AND WHATEVER ELSE THEY COULD GET THEIR PILFERING HANDS ON.
OF COURSE THIS WAS SARCASTIC SINSE ALL WHO WERE PRESENT UNDERSTOOD WHAT HAD TAKEN PLACE. AS JOTHAM REMINDED THEM, THEY WERE COMPLICIT IN KILLING ALL OF GIDEON’S SONS EXCEPT FOR HIMSELF AND ABIMELECH; AND THEN HE BASICALLY CALLED ABIMELECH A BASTARD SON BY SAYING THAT HE WAS MERELY THE PRODUCT OF A SLAVE-GIRL OWNED BY GIDEON. NOW THE POINT OF THIS WAS TO BE INSULTING; FOR ABIMELECH’S MOTHER WAS NOT INFACT A SLAVE-GIRL. BUT JOTHAM IS BASICALLY SAYING THAT THIS BASTARD KING IS YOUR (SHECHEM’S) BLOOD RELATIVE, SO YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS ACTIONS.
THEREFORE IF EVERYTHING THAT THEY AND ABIMELECH DID WAS OBEDIENT AND GOOD, THEN MAY THEY EACH ENJOY ONE ANOTHER. BUT IF IT WASN'T THEN MAY FIRE COME OUT OF ABIMELECH AND BURN THEM, AND MAY THEY IN TURN COME OUT AGAINST ABIMELECH AND DESTROY HIM.
And Jotham ran off and went to live in the town of Beer, where he could be safe from his brother Abimelech.
So Abimelech governed Yisharal for three years before Yahusha decided to step in and punish him and the leaders of Shechem for killing Gideon’s sons. And He sent in en evil spirit to turn the leaders of Shechem against Abimelech.
IT APPEARS THAT ABIMELECH DID NOT LIVE AND RULE FROM SHECHEM; RATHER HE APPOINTED AN OVERSEER OR GOVERNOR NAME ZEBUL TO DEAL WITH SHECHEM. THE TROUBLE THAT STARTED WAS A DIRECT RESULT OF YAHUSHA’S INTERVENTION. IT WAS THAT HE PUT A CONFLICT BETWEEN ABIMELECH AND THE BA’ALS OF SHECHEM. THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN EARTHLY AND PRACTICAL REASONS FOR THE SHECHEMITES TO GO AFTER ABIMELECH (AT LEAST IN THEIR MINDS THERE WAS) BUT IN THE END YAHUSHA ENCOURAGED IT. WHAT WAS THE MAIN REASON FOR YAHUSHA DOING THIS? TO AVENGE THE BLOOD OF THE SONS OF JERUBA’AL (GIDEON).
REMEMBER, ONE OF THE YAHUSHA-PATTERNS ESTABLISHED IN MOSES` INSTRUCTIONS (THE TURAH) IS THAT MURDER (BLOOD-SHED) MUST BE DEALT WITH BY EXECUTING THE MURDERER. THE REASON IS THAT BLOOD (UNJUST KILLING) POLLUTES THE LAND SPIRITUALLY AND THE ONLY WAY THAT SPIRITUAL POLLUTION ENDS IS WHEN THE BLOOD OF THE KILLER IS SPILLED. OTHERWISE THE LAND IS UNDER THE CURSE OF THE LAW. SO YAHUSHA TAKES THE MATTER IN THESE LAWLESS TIMES INTO HIS OWN HANDS AND ARRANGES FOR THE CIRCUMSTANCES TO BRING THE PERPETRATOR (ABIMELECH AND HIS HENCHMEN) TO JUSTICE.
AFTER 3 YEARS UNDER ABIMELECH’S SELFISH AND OPPRESSIVE RULE, THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM HAD OBVIOUSLY HAD ENOUGH AND THE FRICTION BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR KING WAS REACHING A POINT OF COMBUSTION.
The leaders sent some men to hide on the hilltops and watch for Abimelech and his troops, while they sent others to rob everyone that went by on the road. But Abimelech found out what they were doing.
IN OTHER WORDS THEY PUT SOME WILLING MEN UPON THE TWIN HILLS OF EBAL AND GERIZIM SO THAT THEY COULD LOOK DOWN UPON THE MAIN TRADE HIGHWAYS RUNNING THROUGH SHECHEM THAT CONNECTED THE EAST WITH THE WEST AND NORTH WITH THE SOUTH, AND ROBBED THE CARAVANS. NOT ONLY DID THIS GIVE THESE ROBBERS A BOOST IN THEIR PERSONAL INCOMES, IT CAUSED A GREAT DEAL OF TROUBLE FOR ABIMELECH (WHICH WAS THE INTENT). THE KINGS OF THIS ERA FORCED TAXES AND TOLLS FROM THE TRADERS AND MERCHANTS WHO TRAVELED THE TRADE ROUTES THAT RAN THROUGH THEIR TERRITORIES. PART OF THE REASON THESE TRADERS AGREED TO PAY THESE TOLLS WAS THAT THEY WERE TO RECEIVE THE KING’S PROTECTION FROM THIEVES AND NOMADS. IF THE LOCAL KING FAILED IN PROVIDING SECURITY AND THE THIEVERY GOT TOO OUT OF HAND, TRADERS WOULD AVOID THE AREA AND THE KING WOULD LOSE A MAJOR SOURCE OF FUNDS FOR HIS TREASURY. ABIMELECH SOON LEARNED OF THIS, UNDERSTOOD IMMEDIATELY WHAT WAS HAPPENING, AND SO THE STAGE WAS SET FOR A SHOWDOWN.
One day, Gaal son of Ebed went to live in Shechem and his brothers moved there too, and soon the leaders of Shechem started trusting him.
THIS GA’AL LED A BAND OF MEN WHO BORE NO ALLEGIANCE TO ANY PARTICULAR TRIBE OR KING. RATHER THEY WERE LIKE PIRATES OR PRIVATEERS THAT WOULD RIDE INTO AN AREA THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD CONTROL AND TAKE CHARGE. OR THEY COULD BE LIKE A HIRED MERCENARY ARMY AND DO THE BIDDING OF A KING OR A GROUP OF PEOPLE IF THERE WAS SUFFICIENT GAIN IN IT FOR THEMSELVES. UNDER YAHUSHA’S PROVIDENTIAL GUIDANCE THIS GROUP OF THUGS ARRIVES AT SHECHEM AT THE TIME OF THE GRAPE HARVEST AND THE ACCOMPANYING FESTIVAL; SINCE WE NOW UNDERSTAND THE RATHER AMORAL CHARACTER OF THE RESIDENTS OF SHECHEM, GA’AL AND HIS BUNCH FIT RIGHT IN AND THE TOWNSPEOPLE TRUSTED GA’AL.
Then the time came for the grape harvest, and the people of Shechem went into their vineyards and picked the grapes. They put the grapes in their wine-pits and walked on them to squeeze out the juice in order to make wine. Then they went into the temple of their deity and threw a big party with lots of eating and drinking, and before long they were cursing Abimelech.
GA’AL SHOWED UP AT A VERY AUSPICIOUS TIME: THE GREAT NEW YEAR EVENT OF THE PAGAN MYSTERY BABYLON RELIGIONS. THE MAIN EVENT OF THIS CELEBRATION WAS THE GATHERING OF GRAPES, FERMENTING THEIR JUICE INTO WINE, AND THEN HAVING A LONG DRUNKEN PARTY IN HONOUR OF BA’AL.
AROUND THE SAME TIME, IN YISHARAL, IT WAS THE APPOINTED TIME OF SUKKOTH (TABERNACLES OR BOOTHS). IN FACT, WHEN WE LOOK AT THE ORIGINAL HEBREW IT SAYS IN ENGLISH THAT, “THEY WENT INTO THE HOUSE OF THEIR DEITY TO EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY”, (DEPENDING ON YOUR TRANSLATION) WHAT IT ACTUALLY SAYS IS THAT THEY WENT TO THE HOUSE OF THEIR ALAHIM TO “GIVE HILLULIM” AND THIS MEANS “PRAISE OFFERINGS” AND IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE HEBREW WORD HALLEL (PRAISE) THAT IS SO CENTRAL TO FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES CELEBRATION. SO HERE WE HAVE WORDS RESERVED FOR DESCRIBING THE SINGING OF PRAISES TO YAHUSHA, BUT THEY’RE BEING USED TO SING PRAISES TO BA’AL!
UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE CANAANITES SUKKOTH MELDED WITH THE PAGAN NEW YEAR WINE FEST AND BECAME NOTHING BUT A TIME OF OVER-INDULGENCE, DECADENCE AND IT LOST ALL SPIRITUAL MEANING. SOUND FAMILIAR? JUST LOOK AT THE MAZZAROTH CALENDAR EVENTS THAT ARE STILL PUMPING AROUND THE WORLD IN THE 21st CENTURY. COMPLETE EVIL AND WITCHCRAFT SUGAR COATED AS WONDERFUL, SPECIAL FAMILY TIMES.
Gaal said, “King Hamor was the founder of Shechem, so one of his descendants should be our ruler. But Abimelech’s father was Gideon, so Abimelech isn’t really one of us and shouldn’t be our King, and we shouldn’t have to obey him or Zebul, who rules Shechem for him. If I were the ruler of Shechem, I’d get rid of that Abimelech and tell him to go get an even bigger army, and we’ll still beat you.”
AT THIS TIME OF FEASTING AND DRINKING GA’AL USED THE MOMENT TO CHALLENGE THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM TO OPENLY REVOLT AGAINST ABIMELECH. HE SAYS, “WHO IS THIS ABIMELECH THAT WE SHOULD BOW DOWN TO HIM”? AFTER ALL ABIMELECH IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SON OF JERUBA’AL. REMEMBER: JERUBA’AL IS A NICKNAME FOR GIDEON, AND IT MEANS, “BA’AL FIGHTER”. HERE THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM (HEBREW AND CANAANITE) WERE HAVING A DRUNKEN BASH IN HONOR OF BA’AL, AND GA’AL SAYS, ‘WHY SHOULD WE HAVE A KING OVER US WHO IS THE SON OF A MAN WHO HATES BA’AL AND BROKE DOWN HIS ALTAR’? GA’AL GOES ON TO SAY THAT IF THEY’RE TO HAVE A RULER HE OUGHT TO BE FROM “HAMOR THE FATHER OF SHECHEM”. REMEMBER THAT HAMOR WAS A HIVITE KING WHO FOUNDED THE CITY OF SHECHEM. SO NOW (JUST AS ABIMELECH USED HIS CANAANITE (OR HIVITE) BLOOD AS A REASON FOR THE PEOPLE OF SHECHEM TO INVITE HIM TO BE THEIR KING), NOW GA’AL IS REMINDING THE PEOPLE THAT ABIMELECH IS ALSO ½ HEBREW AND SO GA’AL IS USING ABIMELECH'S HEBREW BLOOD LINES AGAINST HIM. OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE, WHEN WE FIRST DECIDE TO DECEIVE.
THEN GA’AL THROWS OUT A NOT SO HIDDEN HINT: “IF I WERE IN CONTROL OF THIS PEOPLE, I’D GET RID OF ABIMELECH”. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU’LL AGREE TO HELP ME DISPOSE OF ABIMELECH, I WILL BECOME YOUR LEADER. THEN IN HIS DRUNKEN STATE HE THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET TO ABIMELECH AND CHALLENGES HIM TO COME TO SHECHEM WITH WHATEVER LOYAL ARMY HE HAS, AND FIGHT.
And Zebul was angry when he found out what Gaal had said and sent some messengers to Abimelech. But they had to pretend to be doing something else, or they would not have been allowed to leave Shechem. Zebul told the messengers to say, “Gaal the son of Ebed has come to Shechem along with his brothers, and they have persuaded the people to let Gaal rule Shechem instead of you. This is what I think you should do. Lead your army here during the night and hide in the fields. Get up the next morning at sunrise and rush out of your hiding places to attack the town. Gaal and his followers will come out to fight you, but you will easily defeat them".
SO WHEN ZEBUL, THE GOVERNOR OF SHECHEM (WHO IS LOYAL TO ABIMELECH) HEARS OF ZEBAL'S REVOLT, HE SENDS A MESSAGE TO ABIMELECH. THE FACT THAT ZEBUL WAS ABLE TO CONTINUE ON IN THE FACE OF THIS GROWING AND UNHIDDEN REBELLIOUS MINDSET SPEAKS TO THE DIVIDED NATURE OF SHECHEM; JUST AS THERE WAS NO CONSENSUS IN CHOOSING ABIMELECH 3 YEARS EARLIER, THERE IS NO CONSENSUS TO REVOLT AGAINST HIM NOW. ZEBUL SUGGESTS TO ABIMELECH THAT HE GET HIS ARMY TOGETHER, COME TO SHECHEM UNDER THE COVER OF DARKNESS, AND THEN LIE IN WAIT OUT IN THE FIELDS THAT SURROUND THE CITY. THEN WHEN DAWN BREAKS, HE SHOULD ATTACK. GA’AL’S MEN ARE BOUND TO RESPOND IN KIND, AND BY DRAWING THEM OUT FROM BEHIND THE CITY WALLS INTO THE OPEN, IF ABIMELECH IS PROPERLY PREPARED HE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DEFEAT GA’AL. ABIMELECH ACTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH GA’AL’S ADVICE.
So one night, Abimelech led his soldiers to Shechem, divided them into four groups, and they all hid near the town. The next morning, Gaal went out and stood in the opening of the town gate. Abimelech and his soldiers left their hiding places, and Gaal saw them. Zebul was standing there with Gaal, and Gaal remarked, “Zebul, that looks like a crowd of people coming down from the mountaintops.”
“No,” Zebul answered, “It’s just the shadows of the mountains. It only looks like people moving.”
“But Zebul, look over there,” Gaal said. “There’s a crowd coming down from the sacred mountain and another group coming along the road from the tree where people talk with the spirits of the dead.”
Then Zebul replied, “Well what good is all of your bragging now Zebul? You were the one who said Abimelech shouldn’t be the ruler of Shechem. So out there is the army that you mocked. So go out and fight them!”
So Gaal and the leaders of Shechem went out and fought Abimelech. Soon the people of Shechem turned and ran back into the town. However, Abimelech and his troops were close behind and killed many of them along the way. Abimelech stayed at Arumah and Zebul forced Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.
IN THE MORNING ZEBUL AND GA’AL WERE STANDING INSIDE THE OPEN CITY GATE, BOTH (FOR DIFFERENT REASONS NO DOUBT) LOOKING TO SEE IF ABIMELECH WAS ANYWHERE TO BE SEEN; OBVIOUSLY GA’AL DIDN’T KNOW THAT ZEBUL HAD SENT FOR ABIMELECH. WHEN GA’AL SAW ABIMELECH’S MEN MOVING ON THE MOUNTAINSIDE, WITH THE MORNING LIGHT STILL DIM AND THE SHADOWS BEING LONG, ZEBUL TRIED TO CONVINCE HIM THAT HE WAS JUST SEEING THINGS JUST GIVE ABIMELECH’S MEN A LITTLE MORE TIME TO GET CLOSER BEFORE THEY WERE DISCOVERED. BUT WHEN IT SIMPLY WASN’T POSSIBLE TO CONCEAL THE PLAN ANY LONGER ZEBUL TURNED AND FLUNG GA’AL’S BOASTFUL COMMENT RIGHT BACK INTO HIS FACE: “WHERE’S YOUR MOUTH, NOW?”
NOW ZEBUL TURNS THE TABLES AND PROVOKES GA’AL TO LEAVE THE SAFETY OF THE THICK DEFENSIVE WALLS OF SHECHEM TO GO OUT AND TAKE ON THE MAN HE HAD SO LITTLE REGARD FOR. NO DETAILS ARE GIVEN OF THE BATTLE, ONLY THE OUTCOME. WITH GA’AL NOW BANISHED FROM SHECHEM, ABIMELECH COULD DO ALMOST ANYTHING HE PLEASED IN BRINGING FULL DESTRUCTION TO THOSE WHO REBELLED AGAINST HIM.
The next morning, the people of Shechem were getting ready to work in their fields as usual, but someone told Abimelech about it. So Abimelech divided his army into three groups and set up an ambush in the fields near Shechem. And when the people came out of the town, he and his army rushed out from their hiding places and attacked. Abimelech and the troops with him ran to the town gate and took control of it, while two other groups attacked and killed the people who were in the fields. He and his troops fought in Shechem all day, until they had killed everyone in town. Then he and his men tore down the houses and buildings and scattered salt everywhere.
THE MORNING AFTER THE LAST OF GA’AL’S MEN WERE EXPELLED, THE REGULAR TOWNSFOLK OF SHECHEM WENT OUT THE CITY GATES TO TEND THEIR FIELDS, FIGURING THAT THE FIGHTING WAS OVER AND IT WAS TIME TO GET BACK TO NORMAL LIFE. WRONG!! ABIMELECH AND HIS MEN WERE LAYING IN WAIT TO TAKE REVENGE AND AS SOON AS ALL THE SHECHEMITES WERE IN THE FIELDS AND DEEP INTO THEIR HOEING, PRUNING AND HARVESTING, THE ATTACK CAME.
THE TEXT SAYS THE FIGHTING AND DESTRUCTION WENT ON ALL DAY AND HE EFFECTED A RATHER SENSELESS SLAUGHTER OF ALL THE INHABITANTS OF SHECHEM, DESTROYED THE BUILDINGS, AND SOWED THE LAND WITH SALT. SOWING THE LAND WITH SALT IS NOT LITERAL, ALTHOUGH IT MAY HAVE BEEN CEREMONIAL. IT SIMPLY MEANS THAT THE LAND, AND THE CITY, BECAME A WASTELAND, UNUSABLE.
Earlier that day, the leaders of the temple of Al-Berith at Shechem had heard about the attack. So they went into the temple fortress, but Abimelech found out where they were and led his troops to Mount Zalmon, where he took an ax and chopped off a tree branch. Then he lifted the branch onto his shoulder and shouted, “Hurry! Cut off a branch just as I did.” And when they all had branches, they followed Abimelech back to Shechem, piling the branches against the fortress and set them all on fire, burning down the fortress and killing about one thousand men and women.
NOW AS HAPPENS IN AN ARISTOCRACY, WHILE THE COMMON FOLKS WERE FIGHTING AND DYING, THE UPPER CLASS (WHO LIVED IN ANOTHER AREA OF THE CITY) MADE A MAD DASH TO A PLACE FOR THEIR SPECIAL PROTECTION. THEY FLED FROM THEIR NORMAL QUARTERS INSIDE THE CITY TO THE FORTRESS-TEMPLE OF THEIR DEITY, HERE CALLED AL-BERITH (MEANING, COVENANT WITH AL). AL WAS THE CANAANITE WORD FOR “HIGHEST ALAHIM”, USUALLY CONSIDERED TO BE EVEN ABOVE BA’AL. OF COURSE WE FIND THAT THE HEBREWS BORROWED THAT WORD TO REFER TO YAHUSHA EARLY IN THE SCRIPTURE. WHILE THE MOVE FROM INSIDE THE CITY WAS OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE THE “DEITIES OF SHECHEM” AND THEIR FAMILIES FELT THAT THE TEMPLE FORTRESS WAS THE STRONGEST BUILDING NOW AVAILABLE TO THEM, WITHOUT A DOUBT THE MAIN REASON THEY WENT THERE WAS THE HOPE THAT THEIR DEITY BAAL, WOULD PROTECT THEM.
WHEN ABIMELECH OBSERVED THIS HE TOOK COUNTER MEASURES; HE LED HIS MEN TO A NEARBY HILL THAT HAD A DENSE GROWTH OF FIR TREES. HE AND HIS MEN CHOPPED OFF BRANCHES, BROUGHT THEM TO THIS TEMPLE-TOWER NOW PACKED WITH THE UPPER CRUST OF SHECHEM, LAID THE BRANCHES AGAINST IT AND THEN LIGHT THEM ON FIRE. THE GREENNESS OF THE BRANCHES WOULD HAVE MADE FOR HORRIFIC CHOKING SMOKE WHILE IT BURNED THROUGH THE WOODEN DOOR AND WOODEN ROOF THAT WERE STANDARD IN THAT TIME, THUS KILLING MANY WHERE THEY SAT HUDDLED TOGETHER AND DRIVING OTHERS OUT TO BE STRUCK DOWN. OVER 1000 MEN AND WOMEN WERE KILLED AT THE BASE OF THE DEITY’S TEMPLE.
After destroying Shechem, Abimelech went to Thebez, surrounded the town and captured it. But there was a tall fortress in the middle of the town and the town leaders and everyone else went inside. Then they barred the gates and went up to the flat roof. So Abimelech and his army rushed to the fortress and tried to force their way inside. Abimelech himself was about to set the heavy wooden doors on fire, when a woman way up on the roof dropped a large rock (that she was grinding grain with) on his head and cracked his skull. The soldier who carried his weapons was nearby and Abimelech told him, “Take out your sword and kill me. I don’t want people to say that I was killed by a woman!”So the soldier ran his sword through Abimelech and when the Yisharalite soldiers saw that their leader was dead, they went back home.
WITH THE CENTRAL CITY OF SHECHEM NOW IN RUINS ABIMELECH MOVED AGAINST THE NEIGHBORING CITY OF THEBEZ (OR TEVETZ) THAT LAY ABOUT 9 MILES NORTHEAST OF SHECHEM WHO APPARENTLY HAD ACTED IN SYMPATHY WITH SHECHEM. THE CENTRAL PART OF THE CITY OF TEVETZ WAS TAKEN RAPIDLY AND MANY OF THE CITY PEOPLE (NOT JUST THE ARISTOCRACY AS IN SHECHEM) FLED TO THE REFUGE OF WHAT IS CALLED A FORTIFIED TOWER. NEVER ONE TO WASTE A SUCCESSFUL TACTIC, ABIMELECH USED FIRE TO FORCE THOSE WHO TOOK REFUGE IN THE TOWER TO COME OUT. BUT, THIS TIME THERE WAS A DIFFERENT RESULT. AS ABIMELECH APPROACHED THE SIDE OF THE TOWER TO TAKE HATEFUL REVENGED BY
PERSONALLY SETTING THE BRANCHES LAID AGAINST IT ON FIRE, A WOMAN ON THE ROOF FLUNG AN UPPER MILLSTONE OVER THE EDGE, STRIKING ABIMELECH ON HIS HEAD AND CRUSHING HIS SKULL. AN UPPER MILLSTONE WAS AROUND 15 INCHES IN DIAMETER AND 3 OR 4 INCHES THICK; IT WOULD HAVE WEIGHT AROUND 20 POUNDS. IT MUST HAVE STRUCK A GLANCING BLOW BECAUSE IF IT HAD HIT HIS CRANIUM BLUNTLY HE WOULD HAVE DIED INSTANTLY. HOWEVER HE WAS AWARE ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT IT WAS A WOMAN WHO HAD DONE HIM IN, AND SO ASKED HIS ARMOR BEARER TO RUN HIM THROUGH SO THAT HE DIDN’T SUFFER WHAT WAS SEEN AS THE HUMILIATION OF BEING KILLED BY A WOMAN IN BATTLE.
And that’s how Yahusha punished Abimelech for killing his brothers and bringing shame on his father’s family. Yahusha also punished the people of Shechem for helping Abimelech, and everything happened just as Jotham’s curse said it would.
YAHUSHA PAYS BACK. WE, AS HIS BRIDE ARE NOT TO PAY BACK BUT YAHUSHA DOES. YAHUSHA REPAID ABIMELECH AND THE MEN OF SHECHEM FOR ALL THE WRONG THEY HAD DONE. IF YAHUSHA DOES NOT PAY BACK, THEN HIS JUSTICE SYSTEM IS A FARCE. WHAT IS “JUSTICE” IF THERE IS NO PUNISHMENT FOR A CRIME? PAUL BRINGS THIS EXACT PRINCIPLE FORTH IN GALATIANS 6.
"Don't be deceived, no one mocks Yahusha and gets away with it!! Everyone will reap what they sow!!" YAHUSHA’S PRINCIPLE OF RETRIBUTION WILL NOT BE FOILED; IT MAY NOT HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY BUT IT WILL MOST CERTAINLY HAPPEN.
WHY DOES YAHUSHA WANT US TO KNOW THIS ACCOUNT OF ABIMELECH?
WHAT IS IT'S RELEVANCE TO US TODAY?
IN A TIME WHERE EVEN THE JUDGE/DELIVERER GIDEON IS ENCOURAGING YISHARAL BACK INTO IDOLATRY, WHERE IS THE LIGHT OF HOPE, WHERE IS THE ONE PERSON WHO WILL HEAR YAHUSHA'S VOICE AND BE OBEDIENT?
IS IT ANY DIFFERENT TODAY? THE DEPRAVITY, THE WICKEDNESS, EVIL, THE IDOLATRY?
WE CAN CERTAINLY RELATE CAN'T WE?
Remember Yahusha took this world back from Satan by defeating him on the stake, so Yahusha now owns it all, and He's not interested in the politics and goings on of mankind, because all behaviours apart from His Divine Instructions are considered evil.
Believers who have entered Yisharal are going through Yahusha's process of metamorphosis to receive the mindset and behaviour of His Living Words through His Spirit, not acting in their selfish flesh as before. Yahuah has always had this same plan for those of His Creation that want to live for and be with Him.
Those of this world still living in opposition to Yahusha's Turah are manifest through their behaviour. Even if believers don't talk or discuss Yahusha or His Words in their conversation, we are forced to discern they are not of the mindset of Yahusha but of the Babylonian mixture and therefore bringing forth the mindset of the flesh. This is why everyone in idolatry is suffering under the hand of Yahusha.
THE THE BOOK OF JUDGES NOT THE ACCOUNT OF YISHARAL SUFFERING ENDLESSLY BECAUSE OF THEIR DISOBEDIENT BEHAVIOUR IN YAHUSHA'S FACE?
HAS HE CHANGED WHAT HE EXPECTS OF HIS PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOUR? WHAT ABOUT HIS BRIDE?