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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

March 21, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again


Daily Reading: Judges 8-9


Judges 9:20

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.


Abimelech was Gideon’s son by a Canaanite concubine. He is also known as the “Bramble King.”  His was a short, but bloody, reign, probably less than three years. He came to power by asking the men of Shechem to let him rule over them instead of the 70 other sons of Gideon. He took their money and with it he hired mercenaries, of sorts, to follow him. To assure his power he attempted to kill all of Gideon’s sons, which he did. All except one; Jotham.


Jotham hid himself away until a certain day that he stood on top of mount Gerizim to prophesy against the men of Shechem and Abimelech, their bramble king. In his message, Jotham stated clearly that if they dealt truly and sincerely with Gideon that they would rejoice in Abimelech, and he would rejoice in them. But if not, if they did not deal properly with Gideon and his children, then Abimelech would devour the men of Shechem, and the people of Shechem would devour Abimelech.


By the end of this chapter (Judges 9) the reader will know which of these happened. Abimelech burned down the tower of Shechem wherein a thousand of those who desired Abimelech to be their king died. He also died that day. A woman threw down a piece of a millstone that hit Abimelech’s head. A wound which would bring certain death. So, this Bramble king asked his armourbearer to end his life with a sword. This armourbearer was probably of Shechem.  God decided their mutual destruction just as Jotham predicted. And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal (Judges 9:57). Remember, Gideon was also called Jerubbaal (Judges 7:1).


“That’s all well and good preacher, but what does this story have to do with us today?”  Consider three observations.


  1. Evil pursues sinners.

  2. Gideon is not without responsibility here. He was a polygamist, and he made allowances for idol worship. According to 8:27 these became a snare to Gedeon and his offspring.

  3. Though wickedness may prosper for a while it will not prosper always.


The Bramble king… what a story, I trust you enjoyed learning more about this dark day in the history of Israel.


Dr. William T. Howe

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