Abimelech was one of Gideon’s sons, but that’s where the similarity ends. He went to his uncles and convinced them he should be over all of Shechem, collected money from them, hired “reckless scoundrels, who became his followers” (Judges 9:4) and murdered his brothers–except for Jotham who escaped by hiding. Oddly enough we read:
Then all the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo gathered beside the great tree at the pillar in Shechem to crown Abimelek king. Judges 9:6
The parable of the trees and the thornbush
Jotham provides some prophetic insight for the people to hear, then goes and hides himself in fear of retaliation. Abimelek governed Israel for 3 years before trouble begins. Gaal son of Ebed attempts a revolve, but is deceived by Zebul and is routed by Abimelek and his men. Abimelek chases people down and burns them alive in a place of refuge.
Abimelek went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull. Judges 9:52
Adios Abimelek! “Thus God repaid the wickeness…” In his timing, not ours.
Afterwards: Tola led for 23 years then Jair for 22 years followed by “the Israelites did evil” again! For 18 years the Philistines and Ammonites “shattered and crushed” them. The Israelites cry out to God, but his message is not so joyful:
Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble! Judges 10:14
Enter Jephthah, son of Gilead (his father) with a prostitute for a mother–outcast by his family–a mighty warrior surrounded by scoundrels. A perfect combination of skills and ancestry to lead Israel, right? The whiny Israelites call upon Jephthah to help them, them make a deal. In turn, Jephthah makes a deal with God (I cannot comprehend this vow, but type the notes here):
If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering. Judges 11:30-31
So…who comes out of the door? His only child, his very own daughter. Because of his vow he allows her to run free for two months then sacrifices her as promised. Sigh. Unthinkable times.
Jephthah lead Israel for 6 years followed by Ibzan for 7 years, Elon for 10 years and Abdon for 8 years.
These are difficult times, perhaps the worst of days. Lord help us to follow you; open our eyes to clearly see that which is evil and keep us far from temptation!