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1, T7C 7"^ may observe, in the instance of Abimelech, the mis* V V chief which pride and ambition occasion. What monstrous steps did he take to gain royal dignity! First he flattered the men of Shechem ; then bribed a number of villains to assist him; and at last embrued his hands in the blood of his brethren. This is the way by which many ambitious men have arrived at gov* ernment, and have for a time supported themselves in it. All sin will easily go down with those who are resolved at any rate to rise; such men will break through all the ties of natural affec* tion, and of conscience too, to secure honour and power for themselves. Let us all guard against an ambitious spirit. Let not our hearts be haughty, nor our eyes lofty; for pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
2. Let us learn to be content with an humble station, as being the most secure, Jotham, in his parable, intimates the danger of being great, as the reason why Gideon and others declined it. A man in power must lose a great deal of ease and comfort, subject himself to much toil and labour, and expose himself to the malice and ill will of others. This is so common a case, that it should make us content with inferior stations, and bring down all our aspiring thoughts. Give us neither poverty nor riches; but hav* ing food and raiment, may ive be therewith content.
3. See what a vain thing popular applause is. The men of Shechem made Abimelech king one day, and almost the next they were for dethroning and murdering him: they cursed him in the house of their god, from whence they so lately took money to support him. How little is the clamour of the multitude to bo depended upon, especially the fame that is gained by evil arts! Let us learn to be mortified to human applause, and act at pleasing God, who searches the heart. Men may, and often do, prove like these Shechemites, false and perfidious. But whoso is approved of God shall be safe ; they who are blessed of him, shall inherit greater honour than any earthly crown can give, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
CHAP. IX. 30, to the end.
We have here an account of the destruction of the men of Shechem by Abimelech, and also of his destruction by a woman, with a stone, from the tower of Thebez.
SO AND when Zebul the rulefc of the city heatd the words JLJL of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. He waited for an opportunity to restore Abimelech; but finding it in vain to oppose a popular tumult, he behaved in a fair way to
31 Gaal; And, being roused by this insult, 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 ; there is no sign that he
32 venture out, but only provide for his own defence. Now therefore up by night, for fear of discovery, thou and the
33 people that [is] with thee, and lie in wait in the field: 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, and as prudence may direct.
34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that [were] with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies, the better to surprise and distract the Shechem
35 ites. And Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entering of the gate of the city, to see that all was safe, and the guards in their proper stations; and Zebul, as governor of the city, accompanied him, to see that all did their duty: and Abim
. elech rose up, and the people that [were] with him, from lying
36 in wait. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, Behold, there come people down from the top of the mountains, from Gerizim and Ebal, between whitA mountains the city lay. And Zebul said unto him, Thou seest the shadow of the
, mountains as [if they were] men ; the mountains and trees cast a long shadow, and deceive you, Zebul said this to detain Gaal, and make him more secure; he was an artful man, and
ST concealed his resentment well. 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 ; as they came nearer, Gaal plainly perceived that they were men, who were got to the middle of the mountain, and
38 another party were coming along the plain. 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. Here Zebul throws off the mask, upbraids him with his insolent language) and charges him with cowardice: 39 And upon this Gaal went out before the men of Shechem, and
40 fought with Abimelech. And Abimelech chased him, and he, being disheartened by Zebul, and perceiving his own party weaker than he expected, fled before him, and many were overthrown, [and] wounded, [even] unto the entering of the gate, the rest
41 got into the city. And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah ; he abode there with his forces, waiting for some fit opportunity to surprise Shechem; and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem. Having lost the victory, he lost his popularity, and was forced to leave the city;
42 perhaps he was not suffered to enter it again. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people went out into the field about their business, or upon some solemn occasion in honour of
43 their idol; and they told Abimelech. And he took the people who were with him, 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
44 them, and smote them. And Abimelech, and the company that [was] with him, rushed forward, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city, to slay those who ran to secure themselves in the city: and the two [other] companies ran upon all
45 [the people] that [were] in the fields, and slew them. And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and, being joined by Zebul and his men, 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 did not think themselves safe, and therefore they
47 entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.t And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem
43 were gathered together in the temple of their god. And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that [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, and said unto the people that [were] with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, [and] do
49 as I [have done.] 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 ; being either burnt to death, or suffocated by the smoke. And thus, according to Jotham's declaration, fire came out from Abimelech, and devoured the men of Shechem and
• This was the cause and sign of barrenness in those hot countries. It denoted his desire to have it made a perpetual desolation ; but it was rebuilt. Rehoboam was crownedlhcre, and it was called Sychar.
t A strong fortress, in the temple of their god, like the Capitol at Rome, or the temple at Jerusabm, which were reckoned impregnable places; or, which they hoped might be spared as sacred places, . . ,
the haute of Miilo; the men of which, that is, the magistrate* and guards, retired to this hold.
50 Then went Abimelech to Thebez, a city near Shechem, which had probably revolted from him, and encamped against Thebez,
51 and took it; But there was a strong tower within the city, large enough to hold all the inhabitants, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, servants and common people, and shut [it] to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower, to throw down stones, and prevent his coming near to
53 burn them as he did the Sheehemites. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire; flushed with his late victory, he was fool hardy enough to go to the very doorf
55 with a firebrand in his hand. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to break
54 his scull.* Then, finding himself mortally wounded, he called hastily unto the young man his armour bearer, 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,
55 and he died.t And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.
56 Thus God rendered a recompense for the wickedness of Abimelech which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren ; it did not come by chance, the hand of God was in
57 if. 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.
I. "TXT E see in the instance before us, the evils of civil war.
VV When the Sheehemites broke through their constitution, and would have a king, no wonder God sent a spirit of discord among them, and made king and people sharers in the calamity. How sad was it in Israel, when such woful scenes as these stained the land; when every sword was against his fellow, and peace and quietness were banished! See what havoc ambition and treachery make in a nation. Let us bless the guardian care of heaven that this is not our case; that our king is not such an oppressor, as to make us wish to get rid of him ; and that the men who, like Gaal, insult his title, and abuse his administration, are disappointed in their attempts to introduce changes and confusion among us. May God continue peace in
• It m usual to have large atones in all the castles to annoy the enemy with.
1" He had slain his brethren on a stone, and now a stone slays him, and lays low that head which had usurped the crown. He thought it dishonourable to die by the hand of a woman, and was willing to tare nil credit; but in vain, lor it was remembered by ixnteritjr, see a Sum. x. ai.
We have here an account of Israel being peaceable and happy under Tola and Jair, two of their judges ; hut they revolt, and arepun~ ished, they repent and find mercy.
1 AND after Abimelech there arose to defend Israel Tola il the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar;
2 and he dwelt in Shamir in mount Ephraim. And he judged Israel twenty and three years, and died, and was buried in Shamir.*
'3 And after him arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years. He belonged to the half tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan, was the first judge there, and a person of
4 eminence. And he had thirty sons that rode on thirty ass colts, and they had thirty cities, which are called Havothjair, or, the villages of Jair, unto this day, which [are] in the land of Gilead. These cities they enlarged and fortified j and rode from place to place as magistrates, to execute judgment.
* Those are tile best times tolive in, of which the historian has least to say. Nothing remarkable happened in Tula's time; all was quiet and peaceable. He preserved their liberty from being invaded, mi the purity of their religion, which. jya» their great defence, from being corropted.
Vol. H. W W