9 Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. 1 He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family, 2 2 “Tell 3 all the leaders of Shechem this: ‘Why would you want 4 to have seventy men, all Jerub-Baal’s sons, ruling over you, when you can have just one ruler? Recall that I am your own flesh and blood.’” 5 3 His mother’s relatives 6 spoke on his behalf to 7 all the leaders of Shechem and reported his proposal. 8 The leaders were drawn to Abimelech; 9 they said, “He is our close relative.” 10 4 They paid him seventy silver shekels out of the temple of Baal-Berith. Abimelech then used the silver to hire some lawless, dangerous 11 men as his followers. 12 5 He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and murdered his half-brothers, 13 the seventy legitimate 14 sons of Jerub-Baal, on one stone. Only Jotham, Jerub-Baal’s youngest son, escaped, 15 because he hid. 6 All the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo assembled and then went and made Abimelech king by the oak near the pillar 16 in Shechem.
7 When Jotham heard the news, 17 he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim. He spoke loudly to the people below, 18 “Listen to me, leaders of Shechem, so that God may listen to you!
8 “The trees were determined to go out 19 and choose a king for themselves. 20 They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king!’ 21 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my oil, which is used to honor gods and men, just to sway above the other trees!’ 22
10 “So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and be our king!’ 23 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my sweet figs, my excellent fruit, just to sway above the other trees!’ 24
12 “So the trees said to the grapevine, ‘You come and be our king!’ 25 13 But the grapevine said to them, ‘I am not going to stop producing my wine, which makes gods and men so happy, just to sway above the other trees!’ 26
14 “So all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and be our king!’ 27 15 The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to choose 28 me as your king, then come along, find safety under my branches! 29 Otherwise 30 may fire blaze from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
16 “Now, if you have shown loyalty and integrity when you made Abimelech king, if you have done right to Jerub-Baal and his family, 31 if you have properly repaid him 32 – 17 my father fought for you; he risked his life 33 and delivered you from Midian’s power. 34 18 But you have attacked 35 my father’s family 36 today. You murdered his seventy legitimate 37 sons on one stone and made Abimelech, the son of his female slave, king over the leaders of Shechem, just because he is your close relative. 38 19 So if you have shown loyalty and integrity to Jerub-Baal and his family 39 today, then may Abimelech bring you happiness and may you bring him happiness! 40 20 But if not, may fire blaze from Abimelech and consume the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo! May fire also blaze from the leaders of Shechem and Beth Millo and consume Abimelech!” 21 Then Jotham ran away 41 to Beer and lived there to escape from 42 Abimelech his half-brother. 43
22 Abimelech commanded 44 Israel for three years. 23 God sent a spirit to stir up hostility 45 between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. He made the leaders of Shechem disloyal 46 to Abimelech. 24 He did this so the violent deaths of Jerub-Baal’s seventy sons might be avenged and Abimelech, their half-brother 47 who murdered them, might have to pay for their spilled blood, along with the leaders of Shechem who helped him murder them. 48 25 The leaders of Shechem rebelled against Abimelech by putting 49 bandits in 50 the hills, who robbed everyone who traveled by on the road. But Abimelech found out about it. 51
26 Gaal son of Ebed 52 came through Shechem with his brothers. The leaders of Shechem transferred their loyalty to him. 53 27 They went out to the field, harvested their grapes, 54 squeezed out the juice, 55 and celebrated. They came to the temple 56 of their god and ate, drank, and cursed Abimelech. 28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerub-Baal, and is not Zebul the deputy he appointed? 57 Serve the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem! But why should we serve Abimelech? 58 29 If only these men 59 were under my command, 60 I would get rid of Abimelech!” He challenged Abimelech, 61 “Muster 62 your army and come out for battle!” 63
30 When Zebul, the city commissioner, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was furious. 64 31 He sent messengers to Abimelech, who was in Arumah, 65 reporting, “Beware! 66 Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers are coming 67 to Shechem and inciting the city to rebel against you. 68 32 Now, come up 69 at night with your men 70 and set an ambush in the field outside the city. 71 33 In the morning at sunrise quickly attack the city. When he and his men come out to fight you, do what you can to him.” 72
34 So Abimelech and all his men came up 73 at night and set an ambush outside Shechem – they divided into 74 four units. 35 When Gaal son of Ebed came out and stood at the entrance to the city’s gate, Abimelech and his men got up from their hiding places. 36 Gaal saw the men 75 and said to Zebul, “Look, men are coming down from the tops of the hills.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadows on the hills – it just looks like men.” 76 37 Gaal again said, “Look, men are coming down from the very center 77 of the land. A unit 78 is coming by way of the Oak Tree of the Diviners.” 79 38 Zebul said to him, “Where now are your bragging words, 80 ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Are these not the men 81 you insulted? 82 Go out now and fight them!” 39 So Gaal led the leaders of Shechem out 83 and fought Abimelech. 40 Abimelech chased him, and Gaal 84 ran from him. Many Shechemites 85 fell wounded at the entrance of the gate. 41 Abimelech went back 86 to Arumah; Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem. 87
42 The next day the Shechemites 88 came out to the field. When Abimelech heard about it, 89 43 he took his men 90 and divided them into three units and set an ambush in the field. When he saw the people coming out of the city, 91 he attacked and struck them down. 92 44 Abimelech and his units 93 attacked and blocked 94 the entrance to the city’s gate. Two units then attacked all the people in the field and struck them down. 45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed all the people in it. Then he leveled 95 the city and spread salt over it. 96
46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem 97 heard the news, they went to the stronghold 98 of the temple of El-Berith. 99 47 Abimelech heard 100 that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were in one place. 101 48 He and all his men 102 went up on Mount Zalmon. He 103 took an ax 104 in his hand and cut off a tree branch. He put it 105 on his shoulder and said to his men, “Quickly, do what you have just seen me do!” 106 49 So each of his men also cut off a branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches 107 against the stronghold and set fire to it. 108 All the people 109 of the Tower of Shechem died – about a thousand men and women.
50 Abimelech moved on 110 to Thebez; he besieged and captured it. 111 51 There was a fortified 112 tower 113 in the center of the city, so all the men and women, as well as the city’s leaders, ran into it and locked the entrance. Then they went up to the roof of the tower. 52 Abimelech came and attacked the tower. When he approached the entrance of the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman threw an upper millstone 114 down on his 115 head and shattered his skull. 54 He quickly called to the young man who carried his weapons, 116 “Draw your sword and kill me, so they will not say, 117 ‘A woman killed him.’” So the young man stabbed him and he died. 55 When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. 118
56 God repaid Abimelech for the evil he did to his father by murdering his seventy half-brothers. 119 57 God also repaid the men of Shechem for their evil deeds. The curse spoken by Jotham son of Jerub-Baal fell 120 on them.
10 After Abimelech’s death, 1 Tola son of Puah, grandson 2 of Dodo, from the tribe of Issachar, 3 rose up to deliver Israel. He lived in Shamir in the Ephraimite hill country. 2 He led 4 Israel for twenty-three years, then died and was buried in Shamir.
3 Jair the Gileadite rose up after him; he led Israel for twenty-two years. 4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities. To this day these towns are called Havvoth Jair 5 – they are in the land of Gilead. 6 5 Jair died and was buried in Kamon.
6 The Israelites again did evil in the Lord’s sight. 7 They worshiped 8 the Baals and the Ashtars, 9 as well as the gods of Syria, Sidon, 10 Moab, the Ammonites, and the Philistines. 11 They abandoned the Lord and did not worship 12 him. 7 The Lord was furious with Israel 13 and turned them over to 14 the Philistines and Ammonites. 8 They ruthlessly oppressed 15 the Israelites that eighteenth year 16 – that is, all the Israelites living east of the Jordan in Amorite country in Gilead. 9 The Ammonites crossed the Jordan to fight with Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. 17 Israel suffered greatly. 18
10 The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped 19 the Baals.” 11 The Lord said to the Israelites, “Did I not deliver you from Egypt, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, Amalek, and Midian 20 when they oppressed you? 21 You cried out for help to me, and I delivered you from their power. 22 13 But since you abandoned me and worshiped 23 other gods, I will not deliver you again. 14 Go and cry for help to the gods you have chosen! Let them deliver you from trouble!” 24 15 But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. You do to us as you see fit, 25 but deliver us today!” 26 16 They threw away the foreign gods they owned 27 and worshiped 28 the Lord. Finally the Lord grew tired of seeing Israel suffer so much. 29
17 The Ammonites assembled 30 and camped in Gilead; the Israelites gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 18 The leaders 31 of Gilead said to one another, “Who is willing to lead the charge 32 against the Ammonites? He will become the leader of all who live in Gilead!”
11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a brave warrior. His mother was a prostitute, but Gilead was his father. 1 2 Gilead’s wife also gave 2 him sons. When his wife’s sons grew up, they made Jephthah leave and said to him, “You are not going to inherit any of our father’s wealth, 3 because you are another woman’s son.” 3 So Jephthah left 4 his half-brothers 5 and lived in the land of Tob. Lawless men joined Jephthah’s gang and traveled with him. 6
4 It was some time after this when the Ammonites fought with Israel. 5 When the Ammonites attacked, 7 the leaders 8 of Gilead asked Jephthah to come back 9 from the land of Tob. 6 They said, 10 “Come, be our commander, so we can fight with the Ammonites.” 7 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “But you hated me and made me leave 11 my father’s house. Why do you come to me now, when you are in trouble?” 8 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “That may be true, 12 but now we pledge to you our loyalty. 13 Come with us and fight with the Ammonites. Then you will become the leader 14 of all who live in Gilead.” 15 9 Jephthah said to the leaders of Gilead, “All right! 16 If you take me back to fight with the Ammonites and the Lord gives them to me, 17 I will be your leader.” 18 10 The leaders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord will judge any grievance you have against us, 19 if we do not do as you say.” 20 11 So Jephthah went with the leaders of Gilead. The people made him their leader and commander. Jephthah repeated the terms of the agreement 21 before the Lord in Mizpah.
12 Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king, saying, “Why have 22 you come against me to attack my land?” 13 The Ammonite king said to Jephthah’s messengers, “Because Israel stole 23 my land when they 24 came up from Egypt – from the Arnon River in the south to the Jabbok River in the north, and as far west as the Jordan. 25 Now return it 26 peaceably!”
14 Jephthah sent messengers back to the Ammonite king 15 and said to him, “This is what Jephthah says, ‘Israel did not steal 27 the land of Moab and the land of the Ammonites. 16 When they left 28 Egypt, Israel traveled 29 through the desert as far as the Red Sea and then came to Kadesh. 17 Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please allow us 30 to pass through your land.” But the king of Edom rejected the request. 31 Israel sent the same request to the king of Moab, but he was unwilling to cooperate. 32 So Israel stayed at Kadesh. 18 Then Israel 33 went through the desert and bypassed the land of Edom and the land of Moab. They traveled east of the land of Moab and camped on the other side of the Arnon River; 34 they did not go through Moabite territory (the Arnon was Moab’s border). 19 Israel sent messengers to King Sihon, the Amorite king who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, “Please allow us to pass through your land to our land.” 35 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He 36 assembled his whole army, 37 camped in Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 The Lord God of Israel handed Sihon and his whole army over to Israel and they defeated them. Israel took 38 all the land of the Amorites who lived in that land. 22 They took all the Amorite territory from the Arnon River on the south to the Jabbok River on the north, from the desert in the east to the Jordan in the west. 39 23 Since 40 the Lord God of Israel has driven out 41 the Amorites before his people Israel, do you think you can just take it from them? 42 24 You have the right to take what Chemosh your god gives you, but we will take the land of all whom the Lord our God has driven out before us. 43 25 Are you really better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he dare to quarrel with Israel? Did he dare to fight with them? 44 26 Israel has been living in Heshbon and its nearby towns, in Aroer and its nearby towns, and in all the cities along the Arnon for three hundred years! Why did you not reclaim them during that time? 27 I have not done you wrong, 45 but you are doing wrong 46 by attacking me. May the Lord, the Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites!’” 28 But the Ammonite king disregarded 47 the message sent by Jephthah. 48
29 The Lord’s spirit empowered 49 Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh and went 50 to Mizpah in Gilead. From there he approached the Ammonites. 51 30 Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, saying, “If you really do hand the Ammonites over to me, 31 then whoever is the first to come through 52 the doors of my house to meet me when I return safely from fighting the Ammonites – he 53 will belong to the Lord and 54 I will offer him up as a burnt sacrifice.” 32 Jephthah approached 55 the Ammonites to fight with them, and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 He defeated them from Aroer all the way to Minnith – twenty cities in all, even as far as Abel Keramim! He wiped them out! 56 The Israelites humiliated the Ammonites. 57
34 When Jephthah came home to Mizpah, there was his daughter hurrying out 58 to meet him, dancing to the rhythm of tambourines. 59 She was his only child; except for her he had no son or daughter. 35 When he saw her, he ripped his clothes and said, “Oh no! My daughter! You have completely ruined me! 60 You have brought me disaster! 61 I made an oath to the Lord, and I cannot break it.” 62 36 She said to him, “My father, since 63 you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised. 64 After all, the Lord vindicated you before 65 your enemies, the Ammonites.” 37 She then said to her father, “Please grant me this one wish. 66 For two months allow me to walk through the hills with my friends and mourn my virginity.” 67 38 He said, “You may go.” He permitted her to leave 68 for two months. She went with her friends and mourned her virginity as she walked through the hills. 69 39 After two months she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. She died a virgin. 70 Her tragic death gave rise to a custom in Israel. 71 40 Every year 72 Israelite women commemorate 73 the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days. 74