Shofetim 9 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,
2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
3 And his mother's brethren spake of him in the ears of all the men of Shechem all these words: and their hearts inclined to follow Abimelech; for they said, He is our brother.
"in the ears" - Hearing.
"The faculty of hearing seems very simple. In reality, it is inconceivably complex and wonderful. "The external ear does little more than collect the sound waves. After this comes the middle ear, a partition very much like a drum, which is occupied by a curious lever-like chain of bones that pass on the sound by a mallet like series of tappings from the outer drum head to the jealously guarded window of the inner ear.
This latter compartment is very difficult to describe, for it is a complex labyrinth of winding staircases containing fluid. In the innermost recesses are the essential organs of hearing, a wonderfully arranged mass of fibres and cells from which fine hairs are suspended in the fluid; and these, it is believed, are in direct connection, each by its own nerve-thread, with the brain.
In this way Nature gets over the difficulty of transmitting an air vibration into a fluid. The ears of all the higher animals contain this essential structure of hair suspended in a fluid. How does this complex apparatus pick out and analyse the infinitude of shades of sound that are borne in upon it? Each of these delicate hairs or fibres is probably attuned to respond to a certain shade of tone and picks up the note to which it is attuned precisely as one tuning-fork will pick up the sound of another if they both happen to be of the same pitch.
The machinery of the ear is only preparatory. It sorts and sifts out the vibrations, and excites the terminals of the nerves, but the real hearing is done at the other end of these telegraph wires, and is part of the mystery of consciousness."-Thus speaks Professor McKendrick in Great Thoughts.
How deeply interesting are common things when their true character is apprehended. Ineffable wisdom is everywhere visible to the eye that can see.-R. R.
4 And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him.
5 And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
6 And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar that was in Shechem.
7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that Elohim may hearken unto you.
8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
9 But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honour Elohim and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
10 And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
11 But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
"Trees" are symbolical of the great men among a people. This is evident from Jotham's parable in Judges ix. 8. "The trees went forth," said he, "to anoint a king over them, and they said unto the Olive Tree, 'Reign thou over us.'" But, when the olive, and the fig, and the vine, severally declined to be promoted over the trees, all the trees with one voice invited the bramble to wear the crown; to which this prickly bush replied,
"If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and, if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."
All this is perfectly intelligible, and no sane mind would think of trying to interpret it upon what is called the literal principle of hermeneutics. The trees in Jotham's parable symbolized all the men of Shechem, and all the house of Millo, in whom the king-making and king-sustaining power resided. It is unnecessary to adduce further proof of this notable signification of "trees" in the symbolic language.
Eureka 8. Act 1.
12 Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
13 And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth Elohim and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.
15 And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.
16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands;
17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian:
18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you:
20 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.
21 And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother.
22 When [Avimelech] had reigned 3 years over Israel [shalosh shanim over Yisroel],
For three years Abimelech enjoyed the fruits of his unrighteousness in peace.
23 Then Elohim sent an evil spirit [ruach ra'ah] between [Avimelech] and the men [ba'alei] of Shechem; and the men [ba'alei] of Shechem dealt treacherously with [Avimelech]:
An evil spirit. Yahweh impelled the men in question into the channel of bad temper and mutual animosity.
Here was the beginning of a retribution which afterwards destroyed both Abimelech and his friends in guilt-the stirring-up of discord between them. Had we been witnesses of what went on between them, we should not have discerned any visible intervention of God. We should have noticed, perhaps, an irritability and proneness to take offence, which, if we had been asked the cause, we might have attributed to disordered liver. In this, perhaps, we should not have been wrong: but it might not have occurred to us that the disordered livers were due to a cause set in motion further back, for the purpose of making mischief between Abimelech and his friends.The Ways of Providence Ch 13
24 That the cruelty done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren.
25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech.
26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.
27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their Elohim, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech.
28 And 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 Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him?
29 And would to Elohim this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.
30 And when Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled.
31 And he sent messengers unto Abimelech privily, saying, Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his brethren be come to Shechem; and, behold, they fortify the city against thee.
32 Now therefore up by night, thou and the people that is with thee, and lie in wait in the field:
33 And it shall be, that in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, thou shalt rise early, and set upon the city: and, behold, when he and the people that is with him come out against thee, then mayest thou do to them as thou shalt find occasion.
34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies.
35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the mountains as if they were men.
37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.
38 Then said Zebul unto him, Where is now thy mouth, wherewith thou saidst, Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him? is not this the people that thou hast despised? go out, I pray now, and fight with them.
39 And Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech.
40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled before him, and many were overthrown and wounded, even unto the entering of the gate.
41 And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
42 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field; and they told Abimelech.
43 And he took the people, and divided them into three companies, and laid wait in the field, and looked, and, behold, the people were come forth out of the city; and he rose up against them, and smote them.
44 And Abimelech, and the company that was with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and the two other companies ran upon all the people that were in the fields, and slew them.
45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.
46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the Elohim Berith.
47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
48 And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done.
49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.
50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it.
51 But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower.
52 And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire.
53 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull.
54 Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died.
55 And when the men of Israel [Ish Yisroel] saw that [Avimelech] was dead, they departed every man unto his place.
The evil spirit enkindled between Abimelech and his friends worked itself out in acts of mutual hostility, until they came to fighting, and in the fighting, Abimelech was slain and the men of Shechem burnt to ashes in their stronghold. It all came about in a perfectly natural manner, yet it was all of God, whence arises the obvious reflection that, as God has not deserted the earth, He works out retribution now in special cases in a perfectly natural way.
56 Thus Elohim rendered [repaid] the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father [ av], in slaying his 70 brethren:
57 And all the evil of the men [anshei] of Shechem did Elohim render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse [Kelalat] of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal [Yotam ben Yerubaal.].
The unenlightened natural man sees only natural mischance in the case; enlightenment discerns the hand of God.
The Ways of Providence Ch 13