Abimelek and the Trees
March 14 - Nº 73 Judges 8:33 – 9:57
Following his great victories, Gideon married many wives and raised 70 sons. But he also had another son named Abimelek with one of his slaves. When Abimelek was grown, he went to his hometown of Shechem and convinced his mother’s family to help him in his quest to become the king of Israel. They agreed to help. After all, this would benefit them, since they would be related to the king. They gave him money from the temple treasury that had been dedicated to Baal. Abimelek used it to hire some thugs to become his posse. With his gang of hoodlums, Abimelek immediately went to his father’s hometown of Ophrah and killed all his stepbrothers—except for the youngest one named Jotham, who escaped and hid. Thinking there was no one else qualified to be the king of Israel, the people of Israel crowned Abimelek. When Jotham heard that his half brother had been crowned, he climbed a mountain near Shechem and stood at the top where everyone could hear him. He told them a parable about some trees: the trees decided they wanted a king. First they asked the olive tree to be their king, but he preferred to continue giving oil to the people. So they asked the fig tree, but he wanted to keep providing sweet fruit. Then they asked the grape vine, but he wanted to keep making people happy with his wine. Finally the trees asked the thornbush. He agreed, but warned them, “If I am the right tree to be king, you can take refuge in my shade. If not, fire will come out of me and consume you.” Jotham then interpreted his parable for the people of Shechem, concluding that they had chosen the wrong man to be king and prophesying that fire from Abimelek would destroy them. Then Jotham fled. He knew that Abimelek would try to kill him again. After three years, the people of Shechem grew tired of Abimelech’s rule. Meanwhile a man named Gaal had moved into town. Everyone loved him. During a wine festival the men got drunk and cursed Abimelek. “Why should we let him rule us?” Gaal wanted to know. “I would make a better ruler. Let’s get rid of him.” The governor of Shechem heard this and warned Abimelek of the coup they were planning. Abimelek led the Israelite army to Shechem and staged a surprise attack. He killed everyone in the city except for 1,000 men and women who had barricaded themselves inside the temple of Baal. Abimelek and his men went to the mountains and chopped down trees. They used the branches to set the temple on fire, killing all the men and women inside. The prophecy of Jotham had come true: The people of Shechem were consumed by fire from a king they should never have crowned. Abimelek attacked another city. This time, instead of hiding in a temple, the people hid in a tower. As Abimelek prepared to burn it down, a woman dropped a millstone on his head. It cracked his skull. As he was about to die, Abimelek begged his armor-bearer to stab him with his sword, because he did not want it said that he was killed by a woman.
Is there a position of status that you are eager to reach—regardless of what it takes? Remember, if it isn’t a place God has chosen for you, success will not bring you peace. Abimelek stopped at nothing to become king, and it cost him everything.