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Saturday, May 6 2012
Abimelech, The Son Of Jerubbaal
The English rendering "Abimelech" is from the Hebrew name, pronounced aw-vee-mel-ek, which meant my father is king, or father of a king. A number of men of Bible history, some Philistine, some Israelite, had the name.
The Philistine king of Gerar in the time that the Iraqi immigrant Abraham (see The Journey From Ur Of The Chaldees) arrived in the land that would later be named after Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD renamed as "Israel" (see Where Jacob Became Israel):
"20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife [see Sarah's Promise], She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
The Philistine king of Gerar in the time of Abraham and Sarah's son Isaac (see also A History Of Jerusalem: Melchizedek's Salem):
"26:1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham.
A son of Gideon (who was also known as Jerubbaal), who murderously seized the "leadership" (see What Do Leaders Do?) after the death of Gideon/Jerubbaal:
"7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon" (Judges 7:1 KJV)
An Israelite priest in the time of King David (see A History Of Jerusalem: The City Of David):
"18:14 So David reigned over all Israel, and executed judgment and justice among all his people. 18:15 And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, recorder. 18:16 And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Abimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests [see The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood]; and Shavsha was scribe" (1 Chronicles 18:14-16 KJV)
"Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal"
Gideon had many wives, from whom were born many children. Gideon also had a son with "his concubine that was in Shechem," "whose name he called Abimelech."
"8:30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. 8:31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." (Judges 8:30 KJV)
Abimelech grew up to be politically ambitious. He regarded himself at a disadvantage, so he appealed first to his relatives in Shechem to make him their ruler, rather than one of the other sons of Gideon who were foreign to the city (although Ophrah was only about 6 miles from Shechem). The strategy worked, but there was still the matter of the seventy other sons of Gideon who had a greater claim to succeed their father. Abimelech's solution was to kill all of his brothers, which he did, except for one who escaped - "Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself." Thereafter, "all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king."
"9:1 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying, 9:2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
The surviving son, Jotham, then made his appeal to the people of Shechem, for them to not accept a wild "bramble" as their king, even though he had sprouted and grown up there.
"9:7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 9:8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.
Jotham then reminded the people of Shechem of all that his father Gideon had done for the city ("For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian"; see Gideon's Trumpets), even though he wasn't born there. With their choice made plain, Jotham fled from the reach of his savage brother Abimelech.
"9:16 Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands; 9:17 (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian: 9:18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) 9:19 If ye then have dealt truly and sincerely with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you: 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
The people then made their democratic choice between Jotham and Abimelech. They chose the savage, Abimelech. The LORD however then cast His "vote," against the man who had murdered his way to the throne.
"9:22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel, 9:23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech: 9:24 That the cruelty done to the threescore and ten sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood be laid upon Abimelech their brother, which slew them; and upon the men of Shechem, which aided him in the killing of his brethren. 9:25 And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech." (Judges 9:22-25 KJV)
Abimelech's power immediately began to unravel. First, a revolution began, under the leadership of Gaal, who used the same divisive argument that Abimelech did i.e. "Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him."
"9:26 And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 9:27 And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech. 9:28 And Gaal the son of Ebed said, Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? is not he the son of Jerubbaal? and Zebul his officer? serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem: for why should we serve him? 9:29 And would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.
Abimelech found himself having to fight, not only for the kingship, but for his hometown of Shechem.
"9:34 And Abimelech rose up, and all the people that were with him, by night, and they laid wait against Shechem in four companies. 9:35 And Gaal the son of Ebed went out, and stood in the entering of the gate of the city: and Abimelech rose up, and the people that were with him, from lying in wait.
While Abimelech was able to retake his home town, destroying it in the process (the old "we had to destroy it to save it" fallacy), his end came when Abimelech continued the campaign on to Thebez. While laying siege to the tower of the city, "a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull." Mortally wounded, "he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died."
"9:46 And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith. 9:47 And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 9:48 And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an ax in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done. 9:49 And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.
"9:56 Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren: 9:57 And all the evil of the men of Shechem did God render upon their heads: and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal." (Judges 9:56-57 KJV)
This Day In History, May 6
636: (date approximate) The Battle of al-Qadisiyah; a military engagement in which Arab forces defeated the Sasanid Persian Empire (Persia is known today as Iran) and completed the conquest of Iraq.
1527: 40,000 mercenaries, hired by Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, sacked the city of Rome, destroying two-thirds of the houses. They killed clergy and laity alike, and forced Pope Clement VII to flee, disguised as a gardener (see also The Struggle For The Papacy).
1576: The Peace Treaty of Chastenoy ended "the Fifth War of Religion."
1626: The mythological incident in which a Dutch settler, Peter Minuit, "bought" what is today Manhattan Island from the "Indians" for a handful of trinkets. At most, the native Americans regarded the "purchase" as a simple gift from a visitor; they had no actual custom or legal practice of owning or selling land - they regarded the earth as owned by the Creator.
1682: King Louis XIV of France moved his court to Versailles.
1757: Frederick II of Prussia attacked Austrian troops defending Prague in the Seven Years War. The attack succeeded and Prague fell with 10,000 Austrian casualties.
1778: Connecticut-born U.S. soldier and frontiersman Ethan Allen was released after being captured in Montreal in 1775 (in which British forces of "New England" invaded the then France-held territory of Quebec i.e. "New France"). After his return, he did not serve in the Revolutionary War of the New England colonies, but devoted his time to local affairs in Vermont, working for separate statehood along with the existing thirteen former colonies. When that didn't happen, he attempted to negotiate the annexation of Vermont to Canada.
1840: The first adhesive postage stamps, the "Penny Black" and the "Twopenny Blue," went on sale in Britain.
1877: About 1,500 Sioux, led by Sitting Bull, entered Canada to settle at Wood Mountain, in present-day Saskatchewan. They fled north after the Battle of The Little Big Horn. The warrior Crazy Horse was the actual Sioux leader of the battle; he later surrendered to stop the retaliatory slaughter of entire Sioux villages, but was bayoneted to death "while trying to escape" Army custody - instead of being allowed to live on a reservation, as officially agreed by both sides at the time of his surrender, he was taken to a common prison where he would have spent the rest of his life in a tiny concrete and steel cage.
1882: British statesman Lord Cavendish was murdered by Irish nationalists soon after arriving in Dublin as chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
1884: Judah Benjamin died. In 1852 he became the first professing Jew to be elected to the U.S. Senate, but during the U.S. Civil War he was took the side of the Confederates, serving as Attorney General. He fled the country after the war.
1889: The Eiffel Tower in Paris was completed.
1910: Edward VII, king of Great Britain and Ireland from January 1901, died.
1919: At the end of the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), the Paris Peace Conference disposed of Germany's colonies; German East Africa was assigned as a League of nations mandate to Britain and France, while German South-West Africa was mandated to South Africa.
1937: The German airship Hindenburg burned at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 36 people lost their lives.
1942: During the Second World War, Coregidor fell to Japanese invasion forces.
1954: British runner Roger Bannister became the first officially-recorded human to run a mile in under four minutes, recording a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
1994: Queen Elizabeth and French president Francois Mitterrand officially opened the English Channel tunnel at Folkstone, England. The first fixed link between Britain and the European continent since the Ice Age.