1Gideon's son Abimelech went to the town of Shechem, where all his mother's relatives lived, and told them 2to ask the men of Shechem, “Which would you prefer? To be governed by all seventy of Gideon's sons or by just one man? Remember that Abimelech is your own flesh and blood.” 3His mother's relatives talked to the men of Shechem about this for him, and the men of Shechem decided to follow Abimelech because he was their relative. 4They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant, and with this money he hired a bunch of worthless scoundrels to join him. 5He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and there on the top of a single stone he killed his seventy brothers, Gideon's sons. But Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, hid and was not killed. 6Then all the men of Shechem and Bethmillo got together and went to the sacred oak tree at Shechem, where they made Abimelech king.
7When Jotham heard about this, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and shouted out to them, “Listen to me, you men of Shechem, and God may listen to you! 8Once upon a time the trees got together to choose a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’ 9The olive tree answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my oil, which is used to honour gods and human beings.’ 10Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king.’ 11But the fig tree answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my good sweet fruit.’ 12So the trees then said to the grapevine, ‘You come and be our king.’ 13But the vine answered, ‘In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my wine, that makes gods and human beings happy.’ 14So then all the trees said to the thorn bush, ‘You come and be our king.’ 15The thorn bush answered, ‘If you really want to make me your king, then come and take shelter in my shade. If you don't, fire will blaze out of my thorny branches and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.’
16“Now then,” Jotham continued, “were you really honest and sincere when you made Abimelech king? Did you respect Gideon's memory and treat his family properly, as his actions deserved? 17Remember that my father fought for you. He risked his life to save you from the Midianites. 18But today you turned against my father's family. You killed his sons — seventy men on a single stone — and just because Abimelech, his son by his servant woman, is your relative, you have made him king of Shechem. 19Now then, if what you did today to Gideon and his family was sincere and honest, then be happy with Abimelech and let him be happy with you. 20But if not, may fire blaze out from Abimelech and burn up the men of Shechem and Bethmillo. May fire blaze out from the men of Shechem and Bethmillo and burn Abimelech up.” 21Then because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech, Jotham ran away and went to live at Beer.
22Abimelech ruled Israel for three years. 23Then God made Abimelech and the men of Shechem hostile to each other, and they rebelled against him. 24This happened so that Abimelech and the men of Shechem, who encouraged him to murder Gideon's seventy sons, would pay for their crime. 25The men of Shechem put men in ambush against Abimelech on the mountain tops, and they robbed everyone who passed their way. Abimelech was told about this.
26Then Gaal son of Ebed came to Shechem with his brothers, and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27They all went out into their vineyards and picked the grapes, made wine from them, and held a festival. They went into the temple of their god, where they ate and drank and spoke scornfully of Abimelech. 28Gaal said, “What kind of men are we in Shechem? Why are we serving Abimelech? Who is he, anyway? The son of Gideon! And Zebul takes orders from him, but why should we serve him? Be loyal to your ancestor Hamor, who founded your clan! 29I wish I were leading this people! I would get rid of Abimelech! I would say to him, ‘Reinforce your army, come on out and fight!’ ”
30Zebul, the ruler of the city, became angry when he heard what Gaal had said. 31He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah to say, “Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem, and they are not going to let you into the city. 32Now then, you and your men should move by night and hide in the fields. 33Get up tomorrow morning at sunrise and make a sudden attack on the city. Then when Gaal and his men come out against you, hit them as hard as you can!”
34So Abimelech and all his men made their move at night and hid outside Shechem in four groups. 35When Abimelech and his men saw Gaal come out and stand at the city gate, they got up from their hiding places. 36Gaal saw them and said to Zebul, “Look! There are men coming down from the mountain tops!”
“Those are not men,” Zebul answered. “They are just shadows on the mountains.”
37Gaal said again, “Look! There are men coming down the crest of the mountain and one group is coming along the road from the oak tree of the fortune tellers!”
38Then Zebul said to him, “Where is all your big talk now? You were the one who asked why we should serve this man Abimelech. These are the men you were treating so scornfully. Go on out now and fight them.” 39Gaal led the men of Shechem out and fought Abimelech. 40Gaal fled, and Abimelech pursued him. Many were wounded, even at the city gate. 41Abimelech lived in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem, so that they could no longer live there.
42The next day Abimelech found out that the people of Shechem were planning to go out into the fields, 43so he took his men, divided them into three groups, and hid in the fields, waiting. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he came out of hiding to kill them. 44While Abimelech and his group hurried forward to guard the city gate, the other two companies attacked the people in the fields and killed them all. 45The fighting continued all day long. Abimelech captured the city, killed its people, tore it down, and covered the ground with salt.
46When all the leading men in the fort at Shechem heard about this, they sought safety in the stronghold of the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant. 47Abimelech was told that they had gathered there, 48so he went up to Mount Zalmon with his men. There he took an axe, cut a branch off a tree, and put it on his shoulder. He told his men to be quick and do the same thing. 49So every man cut off a branch of a tree; then they followed Abimelech and piled the wood up against the stronghold. They set it on fire, with the people inside, and all the people of the fort died — about a thousand men and women.
50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, surrounded that city, and captured it. 51There was a strong tower there, and every man and woman in the city, including the leaders, ran to it. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof. 52When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he went up to the door to set the tower on fire. 53But a woman threw a millstone down on his head and fractured his skull. 54Then he quickly called the young man who was carrying his weapons and ordered, “Draw your sword and kill me. I don't want it said that a woman killed me.” So the young man ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
56In this way God paid Abimelech back for the crime that he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57God also made the men of Shechem suffer for their wickedness, just as Jotham, Gideon's son, said they would when he cursed them.
1After Abimelech's death Tola, the son of Puah and grandson of Dodo, came to free Israel. He was from the tribe of Issachar and lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He was Israel's leader for 23 years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir.
3After Tola came Jair from Gilead. He led Israel for 22 years. 4He had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys. They had thirty cities in the land of Gilead, which are still called the villages of Jair. 5Jair died and was buried at Kamon.
6Once again the Israelites sinned against the LORD by worshipping the Baals and the Astartes, as well as the gods of Syria, of Sidon, of Moab, of Ammon, and of Philistia. They abandoned the LORD and stopped worshipping him. 7So the LORD became angry with the Israelites, and let the Philistines and the Ammonites conquer them. 8For eighteen years they oppressed and persecuted all the Israelites who lived in Amorite country east of the River Jordan in Gilead. 9The Ammonites even crossed the Jordan to fight the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Israel was in great distress.
10Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD and said, “We have sinned against you, for we left you, our God, and worshipped the Baals.”
11The LORD gave them this answer: “The Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites oppressed you in the past, and you cried out to me. Did I not save you from them? 13But you still left me and worshipped other gods, so I am not going to rescue you again. 14Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them rescue you when you get into trouble.”
15But the people of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do whatever you like, but please, save us today.” 16So they got rid of their foreign gods and worshipped the LORD; and he became troubled over Israel's distress.
17Then the Ammonite army prepared for battle and made camp in Gilead. The people of Israel came together and camped at Mizpah in Gilead. 18There the people and the leaders of the Israelite tribes asked one another, “Who will lead the fight against the Ammonites? Whoever does will be the leader of everyone in Gilead.”
1Jephthah, a brave soldier from Gilead, was the son of a prostitute. His father Gilead 2had other sons by his wife, and when they grew up, they forced Jephthah to leave home. They said to him, “You will not inherit anything from our father; you are the son of another woman.” 3Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. There he attracted a group of worthless men, and they went round with him.
4It was some time later that the Ammonites went to war against Israel. 5When this happened, the leaders of Gilead went to bring Jephthah back from the land of Tob. 6They said, “Come and lead us, so that we can fight the Ammonites.”
7But Jephthah answered, “You hated me so much that you forced me to leave my father's house. Why come to me now that you're in trouble?”
8They said to Jephthah, “We are turning to you now because we want you to go with us and fight the Ammonites and lead all the people of Gilead.”
9Jephthah said to them, “If you take me back home to fight the Ammonites and the LORD gives me victory, I will be your ruler.”
10They replied, “We agree. The LORD is our witness.” 11So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead, and the people made him their ruler and leader. Jephthah stated his terms at Mizpah in the presence of the LORD.
12Then Jephthah sent messengers to the king of Ammon to say, “What is your quarrel with us? Why have you invaded our country?”
13The king of Ammon answered Jephthah's messengers, “When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they took away my land from the River Arnon to the River Jabbok and the River Jordan. Now you must give it back peacefully.”
14Jephthah sent messengers back to the king of Ammon 15with this answer: “It is not true that Israel took away the land of Moab or the land of Ammon. 16This is what happened: when the Israelites left Egypt, they went through the desert to the Gulf of Aqaba and came to Kadesh. 17Then they sent messengers to the king of Edom to ask permission to go through his land. But the king of Edom would not let them. They also asked the king of Moab, but neither would he let them go through his land. So the Israelites stayed at Kadesh. 18Then they went on through the desert, going round the land of Edom and the land of Moab until they came to the east side of Moab, on the other side of the River Arnon. They made camp there, but they did not cross the Arnon because it was the boundary of Moab. 19Then the Israelites sent messengers to Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, and asked him for permission to go through his country to their own land. 20But Sihon would not let Israel do it. He brought his whole army together, made camp at Jahaz, and attacked Israel. 21But the LORD, the God of Israel, gave the Israelites victory over Sihon and his army. So the Israelites took possession of all the territory of the Amorites who lived in that country.