The great judge Gideon is dead. It’s time for Israel to choose a new leader.
The book of judges tells the stories of the people who lived in ancient Israel during a period of time when there was no king. In fact, there was no strong leadership. In Judges 9:1-6, the story is about Abimelech, the son of Jerub-Baal, and his quest to become king of Shechem.
Wouldn’t the son of Gideon be a logical choice?
Abimelech brought all of his family members from the house of his father, Jerub-Baal, and asked them to anoint him king.
His brothers were hesitant, but Abimelech’s persuasive words convinced them. They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of their father, which he used to hire some “worthless and reckless fellows” to back him up. He then appointed himself as judge over the people of Shechem and went to the tower of his father’s house to make it his fortress.
Lets go through this Old Testament story to see the outcome.
Abimelech and the Conspiracy
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother’s father, saying,
“Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’
Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh.”
And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.”
They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him.
Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.
All the men of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem. – Judges 9:1-6 NASB
Abimelech Goes Campaigning in Shechem
Abimelech, the son of Gideon (or Jerub-Baal) was ready to take over as soon as his father died. With this in mind, he went on the campaign trail, starting with his hometown Shechem.
It was not that difficult to find support as his mother and other relatives still lived there.
Made up mostly of Canaanites, the relatives knew that Abimelech would be the perfect monarch to lead an uprising against Israel.
God or Abimelech?
During the time of the judges, there was no king – other than God. This is the way God had set up the country as we’ve seen in previous chapters.
Forcing the Kingship
The want of power sometimes makes people do unimaginable things and Abimelech was definitely no exception. He wanted the power and had no reservation of doing whatever it took to insure his place on the throne – God’s throne to be exact.
Abimelech, in his selfish quest killed off his family (69 people) except for the one brother who hid, Jotham.
We’re looking at a man who had nobody’s interest in mind but his own. He used everything he could muster (even murder) in order to get what he wanted.
Abimelech was made Israel’s ruler in Shechem. His goal was reached – but at what price?
What about things we want out of life? Is our desire motivated by self or God? The Application Bible calls it “self-centered or God-centered“.
This story teaches us some important lessons.
First, it is not always wise to listen to the voice of flattery and persuasion.
Second, authoritative positions should be earned through wisdom and strength rather than intimidation and oppressive tactics.
Last but not least, it is ultimately up to us to decide how to proceed. It is important for Christians to take this story into consideration and use it as a lesson for how to live their lives.
To achieve justice and peace in our communities, we should ask God for guidance rather than seek power and dominion through dubious means.
We have to be careful when attempting goals in our lives. Reading the Bible and talking to God will help – if we listen to the answer.
Love in Christ
If you would like to discover more about the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to read John 3:16 here.