Judges 9:1-21

Abimelech becomes king

1 Gideon's son Abimelech went to Shechem to speak to his mother's brothers. He said to them and to her family's clan, 2 ‘Say this to the leaders of Shechem: “You should not agree to let all of Gideon's 70 sons rule over you. It would be better for you to have only one man rule over you. Remember that I belong to your own family.” ’

3 Abimelech's mother's family told the men of Shechem what Abimelech had said. They agreed that Abimelech would be a good ruler for them. They said, ‘He is our brother.’

4 So they gave him 70 pieces of silver from the temple of their god, Baal-Berith. Abimelech used this money to pay some wicked men to help him. 5 He went to his father's home in Ophrah. He killed his 70 brothers, the sons of Gideon. He killed them all on one rock. But Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, hid himself and he escaped.

9:5Abimelech's 70 brothers were his half-brothers. They were the true sons of Gideon. Abimelech was the son of Gideon's slave wife. See Judges 8:31.

6 Then the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo met together. They took Abimelech to the oak tree near the pillar of rock in Shechem. There they made Abimelech king.

7 When Jotham heard the news of what had happened, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim. He stood there and he shouted to the people, ‘Leaders of Shechem, listen to me! Then perhaps God will listen to you.

8 One day, the trees decided to choose a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, “Be our king.” 9 But the olive tree replied, “My oil pleases men and even the gods. I will not stop making my oil so that I can rule over all you other trees!”

10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, “Come and be our king.” 11 The fig tree replied, “I will not stop making my good, sweet figs so that I can rule over you.”

12 Then the trees said to the vine, “Come and be our king.” 13 But the vine answered, “Wine from my grapes makes gods and people happy. I will not stop making wine so that I can rule over you.”

14 Finally, the trees said to the thorn bush, “Come and be our king.” 15 The thorn bush said to the trees, “If you really want to choose me as your king, come here. Hide under my branches to keep safe. If not, I will cause fire to come out from the thorn bush. It will burn up all the big cedar trees in Lebanon!”

9:15All the trees in Jotham's story, except the thorn bush, were valuable. People kept them because they were valuable. Thorn bushes were only useful to burn on a fire. Jotham was telling them that Abimelech was useless.

16 When you chose Abimelech to be your king, you have not been faithful to Gideon and his family. You have not given Gideon the honour that he deserves. 17 My father Gideon fought to save you. He did not try to keep his own life safe. He rescued you from the power of the Midianites. 18 But you have turned against my father's family today. You killed his 70 sons on one rock. You have made Abimelech king because he belongs to your family. He is the son of my father's slave wife. 19 If you have really been faithful to Gideon and his family today, I pray that Abimelech will make you happy! I pray that you will make Abimelech happy, too! 20 But if you have not been faithful, I pray that Abimelech will destroy you! I pray that his fire will completely burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo. And I pray that fire from you leaders will completely destroy Abimelech!’

21 After he said that, Jotham ran away to Beer. He lived there because he was afraid of his brother, Abimelech.