Today I wanted to write about Judges 9:1-21. This is the story of Abimelech and his thirst for power.
Abimelech was the son of Jerubbaal a/k/a Gideon. Gideon was a great judge of Israel who helped free the Israelites from Midian. For doing this the Israelites wanted to make Gideon king but Gideon refused. He didn’t want to be king because he knew the Lord God was king.
Gideon left seventy sons who were to judge Israel, but Abimelech, who was the son of one of Gideon’s concubines, wanted to take complete control of the Israelites.
After Gideon’s death the Israelites forgot about Gideon and once again began to worship the false god Baal.
Abimelech didn’t want to share power with his brothers. He stirred up trouble with his relatives, found some “worthless fellows”, went to the house of his father and killed all his brothers except one. Jotham, his youngest brother, hid himself while this carnage was taking place.
Once the slaughter was complete, Israel came together and anointed Abimelech king.
Upon hearing that his brother had been anointed king, Jotham goes to the top of Mount Gerizim and gives this speech.
When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’
“Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother.
To help me understand this speech I referred to the commentary of Matthew Henry. Here is my thoughts on this speech.
Jotham is saying, that like the trees, all of us are under one king. The people of Israel already had their king, the Lord God. All the trees that were asked to be king and declined to be king, were trees that bear fruit. They were trees that produce something for the public good and therefore admired. The trees knew that to rule over others involved both a great amount of work and an even greater amount of trouble. Good leaders must put aside their own interests and gain for the good of those they rule.
Notice I said “good” leaders or maybe “righteous” leaders would be better said.
Those who take on this kind of power are in danger of losing their fruitfulness. They become unproductive members of society.
Abimelech, the man who thirsted after this power, murdering his own brothers to get it, he is the bramble, the thistle, the weed. He is the non-productive plant that sucks the nutrients away from the productive, fruit bearing trees.
This brings us to today, and to the governments of today. This brings us to the bramble who suck the nutrients from the productive trees. The weeds who thirst for power and will lie, cheat, steal and even murder to get it and to keep it.
As much as things change they stay the same.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.