Judges 9.22-57.001


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God Sends a Spirit of Ill Will 

Judges 9.22–57

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 19, In the year of our Lord, 2014


  1. Judges 9.22–25 – A spirit of ill will

    22 After Abimelech had reigned over Israel three years, 23 God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 that the crime done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his brothers. 25 And the men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who passed by them along that way; and it was told Abimelech.

      1. Compare with what the Lord did to Egypt,

        14 The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in her midst;
        And they have caused Egypt to err in all her work,
        As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
        (Isa 19.14)

      2. Micaiah shows that the Lord did the same to Israel,

        23 “Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you” (1Ki 22.23).

      3. Remember the Midianites (Jdg 7.22).
    1. Abimelech and his supporters reaped as they had sown.
    2. Sin eventually finds us out (Num 32.23).
    3. See Proverbs 10.9.
  2. Judges 9.26–29 – A man seeks power

    26 Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brothers and went over to Shechem; and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27 So they went out into the fields, and gathered grapes from their vineyards and trod them, and made merry. And they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank, and cursed Abimelech. 28 Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not 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? 29 If only this people were under my authority! {Literally hand} Then I would remove Abimelech.” So he said to Abimelech, “Increase your army and come out!”

    1. Gaal lusted for power as Abimelech had.
      1. The men of Shechem followed one man with bad arguments,
      2. so they followed another man with bad arguments.
    2. The people again put their confidence in a man.

      8 It is better to trust in the LORD
      Than to put confidence in man.
      9 It is better to trust in the LORD
      Than to put confidence in princes.
      (Psa 118.8–9)

      11 Give us help from trouble,
      For the help of man is useless.
      12 Through God we will do valiantly,
      For it is He who shall tread down our enemies.
      (Psa 60.11–12)

    3. Verse 27 says that they had an idol instead of Yahweh God.
      1. What can you say about the future of someone who worships a stone?
      2. This is why no idol from ancient times has lasted until today.
  3. Judges 9.30–49 – Fire devours Israel

    30 When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused. 31 And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem; and here they are, fortifying the city against you. 32 Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33 And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may then do to them as you find opportunity.” 34 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. 35 When Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate, Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait. 36 And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!” But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.” 37 So Gaal spoke again and said, “See, people are coming down from the center of the land, and another company is coming from the Diviners’ {Hebrew Meonenim} Terebinth Tree.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out, if you will, and fight with them now.” 39 So Gaal went out, leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. 40 And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate. 41 Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they would not dwell in Shechem. 42 And it came about on the next day that the people went out into the field, and they told Abimelech. 43 So he took his people, divided them into three companies, and lay in wait in the field. And he looked, and there were the people, coming out of the city; and he rose against them and attacked them. 44 Then Abimelech and the company that was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the gate of the city; and the other two companies rushed upon all who were in the fields and killed them. 45 So Abimelech fought against the city all that day; he took the city and killed the people who were in it; and he demolished the city and sowed it with salt. 46 Now when all the men of the tower of Shechem had heard that, they entered the stronghold of the temple of the god Berith. 47 And it was told Abimelech that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 Then Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it and laid it on his shoulder; then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done.” 49 So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech, put them against the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire above them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.

    1. Brethren were angry with one another (v. 30).
      1. How long can a people last
        1. when they are angry with one another
        2. for unjustifiable reasons?
      2. This is leading toward the fulfillment of Jotham’s fable.
      3. How shameful that brethren fight one another to destroy each other.
        1. Had they forgotten
          1. that pagans still lived in the land and
          2. were observing?
        2. Genesis 13 shows the wisdom of Abraham.
          1. His workers and those of his nephew’s were fighting one another.
          2. Abraham knew that pagans were watching,

            7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land. 8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren” (Gen 13.7–8).

      4. Brethren spied on one another (v. 31).
        1. Be careful of what you say.
        2. There may be someone present
          1. who is a family member or
          2. a friend of the person
          3. you are talking about.
      5. Our words will come back to haunt us (v. 38).
        1. Can I live with everything that I speak?
        2. I may be called upon to live by them.
  4. Judges 9.50–55 – The leader dies shamefully

    50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he encamped against Thebez and took it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the city, and all the men and women—all the people of the city—fled there and shut themselves in; then they went up to the top of the tower. 52 So Abimelech came as far as the tower and fought against it; and he drew near the door of the tower to burn it with fire. 53 But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armorbearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest men say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his young man thrust him through, and he died. 55 And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed, every man to his place.

    1. Back in 9.5 Abimelech killed his brothers on one stone.
      1. Now one stone kills him or
      2. hastens his death.
    2. Abimelech is so thirsty for killing that he makes a foolish move in verse 52.

      “An act of manifest danger, seeing the roof was covered with persons who would be likely to throw down missiles of all sorts on the heads of their assailants. But the hatred of Abimelech, and his thirst for revenge, made him despise danger” (Fuller).

      1. God used the women Deborah and Jael to kill the enemies of Israel.
      2. A woman of Thebez killed an Israelite who became an enemy of Israel.
  5. Judges 9.56–57 – They reaped what they sowed

    56 Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. 57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

    1. Abimelech paid with his life for taking the lives of his brothers.
      1. The story ends with a reversal of how it began.
      2. Crime does not pay.
    2. The men of Shechem also received evil for being and doing evil.
      1. Abimelech may have been evil, but
      2. he could not have accomplished what he did without support.
    3. Thus, Jotham’s curse was complete.