Pastoral Commentary for Judges 9:22-10:18
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Jotham had prophesied that because of their foolishness fire would come from Abimelech on the residents of Shechem. Three years after making Abimelech king, God sent an evil spirit to divide his citizens from Abimelech. A man named Gaal moved in, and the people of Shechem put their faith in him. During the grape harvest celebration the people of Shechem cursed Abimelech and Gaal urged them to renounce Abimelech and his appointed governor, Zebul. Having heard of Gaal's words, Zebul sent messengers to Abimelech. Zebul urged Abimelech to set an ambush for Gaal and his men when they set out from the city against the king. Gaal and his army were driven out. The following day when the people went out to the fields they were attacked and killed. Abimelech then attacked the city and destroyed it. Many people had took refuge in a fortress within a temple of Baal. Abimelech and his men gathered wood and brush from a forested mountain, piled it against the stronghold and set it on fire, fulfilling Jotham's words. In a neighboring town which had joined the revolt, Abimelech again set fire to a tower where people had taken refuge. However, a woman dropped a millstone on Abimelech's head. As he lay wounded and dying he asked his armor bearer to kill him so that no one could say "A woman killed him." All of this was the vengeance of the LORD on Abimelech for what he had done to the sons of Gideon. After Abimelech's death, a brief account is given of two judges, Tola and Jair, who led Israel for a total of 45 years together. The idolatry of Israel continued, however, and God allowed the Philistines and Ammonites 18 years of domination over his chosen people. In His anger God said: "you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!" Israel repented and threw away their idols. When God could no longer bear the misery of His people He prepared to raise up a new judge to lead them.