Thoughts on Judges 9

We’re reading through Judges at Oak Tree Church, and I’m posting some observations from my daily readings here within a day or two after the reading. I’d love for you to join in the discussion.

Thoughts on Judges 9

Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family… Judges 9:1 NET

I wonder if this story would have been any different had Gideon (Jerub-Baal) simply not named his son “Abimelech” (meaning “my father is king”). Did Abimelech – who was not a legitimate heir – feel entitled to something because of Gideon’s stupid decision to name him that?

The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to choose me as your king, then come along, find safety under my branches! Otherwise may fire blaze from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’ Judges 9:15 NET

Jotham’s parable has a great principle about leadership. The first three plants the trees asked to be king (olive tree, fig tree, grapevine) all said essentially the same thing: “In order for me to lead you, I would have to stop my daily tasks and rise to the occasion, but this would not be beneficial to me or you.”

The thornbush, on the other hand, replied, “If you want me to be your leader, you come down to my level, but I’m not going to change.” God has not wired everyone to be a leader, but those he has will be willing to step up to it.

Abimelech commanded Israel for three years. Judges 9:22 NET

The change of words is significant here. All of the other leaders of Israel so far are said to have “judged” or “delivered” or “ruled” Israel for a period of time. Abimelech “commanded” Israel, and it wasn’t for very long.

When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they went home. Judges 9:55 NET

Such an anticlimactic end to the story. Not one Bible translation I read even tries to make it look like they ran home scared. It’s a simple statement of fact: their leader died, so they went home (ready to follow the next whomever could buy their loyalty).

What did you see in these verses? What was important to you in Judges 9 that I did not see?