Through the Bible – Day 86

Bible text(s)

Abimelech

Abimelech tries to be king

1Abimelech the son of Gideon went to Shechem. While there, he met with his mother's relatives 2and told them to say to the leaders of Shechem, “Do you think it would be good to have all seventy of Gideon's sons ruling us? Wouldn't you rather have just one man as king? Abimelech would make a good king, and he's related to us.”

3Abimelech's uncles talked it over with the leaders of Shechem who agreed, “Yes, it would be better for one of our relatives to be king.” 4Then they gave Abimelech seventy pieces of silver from the temple of their god Baal Berith.

Abimelech used the silver to hire a gang of rough soldiers who would do anything for money. 5Abimelech and his soldiers went to his father's home in Ophrah and brought out Gideon's other sons to a large rock, where they murdered all seventy. Gideon's youngest son Jotham hid from the soldiers, but he was the only one who escaped.

6The leaders of Shechem, including the priests and the military officers, met at the tree next to the sacred rock in Shechem to crown Abimelech king. 7Jotham heard what they were doing. So he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted down to the people who were there at the meeting:

Leaders of Shechem,

listen to me,

and perhaps God

will listen to you.

8Once the trees searched

for someone to be king;

they asked the olive tree,

“Will you be our king?”

9But the olive tree replied,

“My oil brings honour

to people and gods.

I won't stop making oil,

just so my branches can wave

above the other trees.”

10Then they asked the fig tree,

“Will you be our king?”

11But the fig tree replied,

“I won't stop growing

my delicious fruit,

just so my branches can wave

above the other trees.”

12Next they asked the grapevine,

“Will you be our king?”

13But the grapevine replied,

“My wine brings cheer

to people and gods.

I won't stop making wine,

just so my branches can wave

above the other trees.”

14Finally, they went

to the thorn bush and asked,

“Will you be our king?”

15The thorn bush replied,

“If you really want me

to be your king,

then come into my shade

and I will protect you.

But if you're deceiving me,

I'll start a fire

that will spread out and destroy

the cedars of Lebanon.”

After Jotham had finished telling this story, he said:

16-18My father Gideon risked his life for you when he fought to rescue you from the Midianites. Did you reward Gideon by being kind to his family? No, you did not! You attacked his family and killed all seventy of his sons on that rock.

And was it right to make Abimelech your king? He's merely the son of my father's slave girl. But just because he's your relative, you made him king of Shechem.

19So, you leaders of Shechem, if you treated Gideon and his family the way you should have, then I hope you and Abimelech will make each other very happy. 20But if it was wrong to treat Gideon and his family the way you did, then I pray that Abimelech will destroy you with fire, and I pray that you will do the same to him.

21Jotham ran off and went to live in the town of Beer, where he could be safe from his brother Abimelech.

Abimelech destroys Shechem

22Abimelech had been a military commander of Israel for three years, 23-24when God decided to punish him and the leaders of Shechem for killing Gideon's seventy sons.

So God turned the leaders of Shechem against Abimelech. 25Then they sent some men to hide on the hilltops and watch for Abimelech and his troops, while they sent others to rob everyone who went by on the road. But Abimelech found out what they were doing.

26One day, Gaal son of Ebed went to live in Shechem. His brothers moved there too, and soon the leaders of Shechem started trusting him.

27The time came for the grape harvest, and the people of Shechem went into their vineyards and picked the grapes. They put the grapes in their wine-pits and walked on them to squeeze out the juice in order to make wine. Then they went into the temple of their god and threw a big party. There was a lot of eating and drinking, and before long they were cursing Abimelech.

28Gaal said:

Hamor was the founder of Shechem, and one of his descendants should be our ruler. But Abimelech's father was Gideon, so Abimelech isn't really one of us. He shouldn't be our king, and we shouldn't have to obey him or Zebul, who rules Shechem for him. 29If I were the ruler of Shechem, I'd get rid of that Abimelech. I'd tell him, “Get yourself an even bigger army, and we will still defeat you.”

30Zebul was angry when he found out what Gaal had said. 31And so he sent some messengers to Abimelech. But they had to pretend to be doing something else, or they would not have been allowed to leave Shechem. Zebul told the messengers to say:

Gaal the son of Ebed has come to Shechem along with his brothers, and they have persuaded the people to let Gaal rule Shechem instead of you. 32This is what I think you should do. Lead your army here during the night and hide in the fields. 33Get up the next morning at sunrise and rush out of your hiding places to attack the town. Gaal and his followers will come out to fight you, but you will easily defeat them.

34So one night, Abimelech led his soldiers to Shechem. He divided them into four groups, and they all hid near the town.

35The next morning, Gaal went out and stood in the opening of the town gate. Abimelech and his soldiers left their hiding places, 36and Gaal saw them. Zebul was standing there with Gaal, and Gaal remarked, “Zebul, that looks like a crowd of people coming down from the mountaintops.”

“No,” Zebul answered, “it's just the shadows of the mountains. It only looks like people moving.”

37“But Zebul, look over there,” Gaal said. “There's a crowd coming down from the sacred mountain, and another group is coming along the road from the tree where people talk with the spirits of the dead.”

38Then Zebul replied, “What good is all your boasting now? You were the one who said Abimelech shouldn't be the ruler of Shechem. Out there is the army that you made fun of. So go out and fight them!”

39Gaal and the leaders of Shechem went out and fought Abimelech. 40Soon the people of Shechem turned and ran back into the town. However, Abimelech and his troops were close behind and killed many of them along the way.

41Abimelech stayed at Arumah, and Zebul forced Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.

42The next morning, the people of Shechem were getting ready to work in their fields as usual, but someone told Abimelech about it. 43Abimelech divided his army into three groups and set up an ambush in the fields near Shechem. When the people came out of the town, he and his army rushed out from their hiding places and attacked. 44Abimelech and the troops with him ran to the town gate and took control of it, while two other groups attacked and killed the people who were in the fields. 45He and his troops fought in Shechem all day, until they had killed everyone in town. Then he and his men tore down the houses and buildings and scattered salt everywhere.

46Earlier that day, the leaders of the temple of El Berith at Shechem had heard about the attack. So they went into the temple fortress, 47but Abimelech found out where they were. 48He led his troops to Mount Zalmon, where he took an axe and chopped off a tree branch. He lifted the branch on to his shoulder and shouted, “Hurry! Cut off a branch just as I did.”

49When they all had branches, they followed Abimelech back to Shechem. They piled the branches against the fortress and set them on fire, burning down the fortress and killing about one thousand men and women.

50After destroying Shechem, Abimelech went to Thebez. He surrounded the town and captured it. 51But there was a tall fortress in the middle of the town, and the town leaders and everyone else went inside. Then they barred the gates and went up to the flat roof.

52Abimelech and his army rushed to the fortress and tried to force their way inside. Abimelech himself was about to set the heavy wooden doors on fire, 53when a woman on the roof dropped a large rock on his head and cracked his skull. 54The soldier who carried his weapons was nearby, and Abimelech told him, “Take out your sword and kill me. I don't want people to say that I was killed by a woman!”

So the soldier ran his sword through Abimelech. 55And when the Israelite soldiers saw that their leader was dead, they went back home.

56That's how God punished Abimelech for killing his brothers and bringing shame on his father's family. 57God also punished the people of Shechem for helping Abimelech. Everything happened just as Jotham's curse said it would.

Tola, Jair, and Jephthah

Tola

1Tola was the next person to rescue Israel. He belonged to the Issachar tribe, but he lived in Shamir, a town in the hill country of Ephraim. His father was Puah, and his grandfather was Dodo. 2Tola was a leader of Israel for twenty-three years, then he died and was buried in Shamir.

Jair

3The next leader of Israel was Jair, who lived in Gilead. He was a leader for twenty-two years. 4He had thirty sons, and each son had his own mule and was in charge of one town in Gilead. Those thirty towns are still called The Settlements of Jair. 5When he died, he was buried in the town of Kamon.

Israel is unfaithful again

6Before long, the Israelites began disobeying the LORD by worshipping Baal, Astarte, and gods from Syria, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia.

7The LORD was angry with Israel and decided to let Philistia and Ammon conquer them. 8So the same year that Jair died, Israel's army was crushed by these two nations. For eighteen years, Ammon was cruel to the Israelites who lived in Gilead, the region east of the River Jordan that had once belonged to the Amorites. 9Then the Ammonites began crossing the Jordan and attacking the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Ephraim. Life was miserable for the Israelites. 10They begged the LORD for help and confessed, “We were unfaithful to you, our LORD. We stopped worshipping you and started worshipping idols of Baal.”

11-12The LORD answered:

In the past when you came crying to me for help, I rescued you. At one time or another I've rescued you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites. 13-14But I'm not going to rescue you any more! You've left me and gone off to worship other gods. If you're in such big trouble, go and cry to them for help!

15“We have been unfaithful,” the Israelites admitted. “If we must be punished, do it yourself, but please rescue us from the Ammonites.”

16Then the Israelites got rid of the idols of the foreign gods, and they began worshipping only the LORD. Finally, there came a time when the LORD could no longer stand to see them suffer.

The Ammonites invade Gilead

17The rulers of Ammon called their soldiers together and led them to Gilead, where they set up camp.

The Israelites gathered at Mizpah and set up camp there. 18The leaders of Gilead asked each other, “Who can lead an attack on the Ammonites?” Then they agreed, “If we can find someone who can lead the attack, we'll make him the ruler of Gilead.”

Judges 9:1-10:18CEVOpen in Bible reader

The baptism of Jesus

21While everyone else was being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. Then as he prayed, the sky opened up, 22and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the form of a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”

The ancestors of Jesus

23When Jesus began to preach, he was about thirty years old. Everyone thought he was the son of Joseph. But his family went back through Heli, 24Matthat, Levi, Melchi, Jannai, Joseph, 25Mattathias, Amos, Nahum, Esli, Naggai, 26Maath, Mattathias, Semein, Josech, Joda;

27Joanan, Rhesa, Zerubbabel, Shealtiel, Neri, 28Melchi, Addi, Cosam, Elmadam, Er, 29Joshua, Eliezer, Jorim, Matthat, Levi;

30Simeon, Judah, Joseph, Jonam, Eliakim, 31Melea, Menna, Mattatha, Nathan, David, 32Jesse, Obed, Boaz, Salmon, Nahshon;

33Amminadab, Admin, Arni, Hezron, Perez, Judah, 34Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Terah, Nahor, 35Serug, Reu, Peleg, Eber, Shelah;

36Cainan, Arphaxad, Shem, Noah, Lamech, 37Methuselah, Enoch, Jared, Mahalaleel, Kenan, 38Enosh, and Seth.

The family of Jesus went all the way back to Adam and then to God.

Jesus and the devil

1When Jesus returned from the River Jordan, the power of the Holy Spirit was with him, and the Spirit led him into the desert. 2For forty days Jesus was tested by the devil, and during that time he went without eating. When it was all over, he was hungry.

3The devil said to Jesus, “If you are God's Son, tell this stone to turn into bread.”

4Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say, ‘No one can live only on food.’ ”

5Then the devil led Jesus up to a high place and quickly showed him all the nations on earth. 6The devil said, “I will give all this power and glory to you. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7Just worship me, and you can have it all.”

8Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say:

‘Worship the Lord your God

and serve only him!’ ”

9Finally, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on top of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God's Son, jump off. 10-11The Scriptures say:

‘God will tell his angels

to take care of you.

They will catch you

in their arms,

and you will not hurt

your feet on the stones.’ ”

12Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don't try to test the Lord your God!’ ”

13After the devil had finished testing Jesus in every way possible, he left him for a while.

Jesus begins his work

14Jesus returned to Galilee with the power of the Spirit. News about him spread everywhere. 15He taught in the Jewish meeting places, and everyone praised him.

Luke 3:21-4:15CEVOpen in Bible reader
Canadian Bible Societyv.4.21.9
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