The first story today regards Abimelech, the son of Jerubbaal. Remember that Jerubbaal is what the Israelites called Gideon, and his son’s name is a curious choice. For a man who swore, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the LORD will rule over you…” it’s odd that he should name his son Abimelech, which means, “My father is king.”
Nonetheless after Gideon’s death Abimelech – obviously with help from Shechem – slaughters most of his brothers and sets himself up as king over a substantial portion of Israel. The solution, in the author’s eyes, is for God to intervene, by sending an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, that the blood of Gideon’s sons would be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers.
Notice how, in a Genesis way, God is allowing, even encouraging, Israel to experience the weight of its sin. This is explicit in chapter 10, when the LORD responds to Israel’s cries for help: “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites…? Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen…” Israel responds by putting away their gods, and the author cryptically observes that the LORD became impatient over the misery of Israel.
The scene shifts east of the Jordan, to Gilead, and listen to how Jephthah is introduced at the beginning of chapter 11. Listen also to how Jephthah’s story emulates Gideon’s: the Spirit of the LORD is upon him, his clan raises him up as leader, yet there’s an uneasy feeling about the whole thing. As you read the end of this story – the part regarding Jephthah’s infamous vow – listen to what the author emphasizes and consider what purpose the author is attempting to fulfill.
Our verse for this week is John 3:35: The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
Judges chapters 9 through 11. Now let’s read it!
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.