Sunday, July 26, 2015


Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone.  But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself.  And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king….  (Judges 9:5-6a)

Every tub must sit on its own bottom.  That is a quaint way of saying that we are responsible for our own actions.  That is not to say that others may not have an influence.  In particular, our parents can make a great impact—both a genetic and environmental aspect.  Exodus 20:5 tells us the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation.  We also know that godly parents make a difference in their children as well.  No force on earth shapes us more than our parents.  That is the sad case of Abimelech in Judges 9.  His father Gideon (referred to as Jerubaal in these verses) was a good man, but in later years strayed.  That had a devastating result in his family.

When Gideon succeeded—by the help of God—in driving away the Midianite invaders, the people responded by wanting him as their king (8:22-23).  Although refusing the title, he desired the trappings of royalty.  He did not want the position, but was glad to have the perks (8:24-26, 30-31).  He named one son, “Abimelech,” meaning, “my father is king.”  Often, what parents permit in moderation, children will practice in excess.  Abimelech apparently grew up with a lust for power in his heart.  He also had an environment that gave lip service to God, but became idolatrous (8:33-34).  Children who witness hypocrisy in their parents tend to reject such religion.

Abimelech was the son of a Canaanite concubine, so apparently never treated the same as Gideon’s other children.  He would have been a loner—an outcast with a smoldering hate of his siblings that one day ignited into mass murder (9:1-6).  That he slays them on “one stone,” suggests they were offered up as human sacrifices.  Abimelech becomes king over this area, doubtless with ambitions to rule over all Israel.  He established goodwill among the people by appealing to their self-interest.  He was an effective politician.

One son of Gideon—Jotham—escapes the slaughter and speaks out against his brother and the men of Shechem who followed Abimelech (9:7-21).  It does not take long, however, for the king and his subjects to get sick of each other.  There is an uprising and Abimelech responds with vengeance.  The citizens of Shechem are slain and the city sown with salt to make the soil unfertile (9:22-49).  Abimelech—now drunk with power—pursues his dreams of conquest by attacking the city of Thebez (9:50-57).  God’s judgment fell on him from above—literally.  After a woman in a tower drops a stone on Abimelech’s head—inflicting a wound he knew to be mortal—his pride remains and he asks his armor bearer to kill him with a sword, so it would not be said a woman killed him with a stone!

How many Abimelechs is America producing today?  They are raised without love, without God, and having a callused conscience become cold-blooded killers.  We have sown to the wind and are reaping the whirlwind.  The seeds of our society’s destruction have been sown in the hearts of our sons.

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