9 Now Abimelech the son of [a]Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the entire family of the household of his mother’s father, saying, 2 “Speak, now, in the hearing of all the [b]leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you: for seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, to rule over you, or for one man to rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh.” 3 So his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the [c]leaders of Shechem; and [d]they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.” 4 And they gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith, with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men, and they followed him. 5 Then he went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, [e]on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself. 6 All the [f]leaders of Shechem and all [g]Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the [h]oak of the memorial stone which was in Shechem.
7 Now when they told Jotham, he went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim, and raised his voice and called out. And he said to them, “Listen to me, you [i]leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. 8 Once the trees went to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ 9 But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I give up my fatness with [j]which God and mankind are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’ 10 Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You, come, reign over us!’ 11 But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I give up my sweetness and my good [k]fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’ 12 Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You, come, reign over us!’ 13 But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I give up my new wine, which cheers God and mankind, and go to wave over the trees?’ 14 Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You, come, reign over us!’ 15 And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If you [l]really are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out of the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’
16 “Now then, if you have acted with [m]honesty and integrity in making Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and [n]have dealt with him [o]as he deserved— 17 for my father fought for you, and [p]risked his life and saved you from the hand of Midian; 18 but in fact you have risen against my father’s house today and have killed his sons, seventy men, on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female slave, king over the [q]leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— 19 so if you have acted with [r]honesty and integrity toward Jerubbaal and his house this day, be joyful about Abimelech, and may he also be joyful about you. 20 But if not, may fire come out of Abimelech and consume the [s]leaders of Shechem and [t]Beth-millo; and may fire come out of the [u]leaders of Shechem and from [v]Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech.” 21 Then Jotham escaped and fled, and went to Beer; and he stayed there because of his brother Abimelech.
Shechem and Abimelech Fall
22 Now Abimelech ruled over Israel for three years. 23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the [w]leaders of Shechem; and the [x]leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, 24 so that the violence [y]done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal would come, and the responsibility for their blood would be placed on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the [z]leaders of Shechem, who [aa]encouraged him to kill his brothers. 25 The [ab]leaders of Shechem set up men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed everyone who would pass by them on the road; and it was reported to Abimelech.
26 Now Gaal the son of Ebed came with his relatives, and crossed over into Shechem; and the [ac]leaders of Shechem trusted him. 27 So they went out to the field and gathered the grapes of their vineyards and trampled them, and held a festival; and they went into the house of their god, and ate and drank and cursed Abimelech. 28 Then Gaal the son of Ebed said, “Who is Abimelech, and who is Shechem, that we should serve him? Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is Zebul not his governor? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shechem; but why should we serve him? 29 [ad]If only this people were under my authority! Then I would do away with Abimelech.” And he said to Abimelech, “Enlarge your army and come out!”
30 When Zebul the leader of the city heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger burned. 31 So using deception, he successfully sent messengers to Abimelech, saying, “Behold, Gaal the son of Ebed and his relatives have come to Shechem; and behold, they are [ae]stirring up the city against you. 32 So now, arise by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. 33 Then in the morning, as soon as the sun is up, you shall rise early and attack the city; and behold, when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you shall do to them [af]whatever you can.”
34 So Abimelech and all the people who were with him got up at night, and lay in wait against Shechem, in four [ag]units. 35 Now Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood at the entrance of the city gate; and Abimelech and the people who were with him arose from the ambush. 36 When Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “[ah]Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains.” But Zebul said to him, “You are seeing the shadow of the mountains as if they were people.” 37 And Gaal spoke yet again and said, “Look, people are coming down from the [ai]highest part of the land, and one [aj]unit is coming by way of [ak]the diviners’ [al]oak.” 38 Then Zebul said to him, “Where then is your [am]boasting with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech that we should serve him?’ Is this not the people whom you rejected? Go out now and fight them!” 39 So Gaal went out [an]in the sight of the [ao]leaders of Shechem and fought Abimelech. 40 But Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded up to the entrance of the gate. 41 Then Abimelech stayed in Arumah, but Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives so that they could not stay in Shechem.
42 Now it came about the next day, that the people went out to the field, and it was reported to Abimelech. 43 So he took [ap]his people and divided them into three [aq]units, and lay in wait in the field; when he looked and [ar]saw the people coming out from the city, he [as]attacked them and killed them. 44 Then Abimelech and the [at]company who was with him rushed forward and stood at the entrance of the city gate; the other two [au]companies then attacked all who were in the field and killed them. 45 Abimelech fought against the city that whole day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.
46 When all the [av]leaders of the tower of Shechem heard about it, they entered the inner chamber of the [aw]temple of El-berith. 47 And it was reported to Abimelech that all the [ax]leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together. 48 So Abimelech went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him; and Abimelech took [ay]an axe in his hand and cut down a branch from the trees, and lifted it and put it on his shoulder. Then he said to the people who were with him, “What you saw me do, hurry and do [az]likewise.” 49 So all the people also cut down, each one, his branch and followed Abimelech, and put them on top of the inner chamber and set the inner chamber on fire over those inside, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem also died, about a thousand men and women.
50 Then Abimelech went to Thebez, and he camped against Thebez and captured it. 51 But there was a strong tower in the center of the city, and all the men and women with all the [ba]leaders of the city fled there and shut themselves in; and they went up on the roof of the tower. 52 So Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it, and approached the entrance of the tower to burn it down with fire. 53 But a woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. 54 Then he called quickly to the young man, his armor bearer, and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that it will not be said of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” So [bb]the young man pierced him through, and he died. 55 Now when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each left for his [bc]home. 56 So God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57 God also returned all the wickedness of the men of Shechem on their heads, and the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal came [bd]upon them.
Oppression by Philistines and Ammonites
10 Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, rose up to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He judged Israel for twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.
3 After him, Jair the Gileadite rose up and judged Israel for twenty-two years. 4 And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities [be]in the land of Gilead that are called [bf]Havvoth-jair to this day. 5 And Jair died and was buried in Kamon.
6 Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; so they abandoned the Lord and did not serve Him. 7 And the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hands of the sons of Ammon. 8 And they [bg]afflicted and oppressed the sons of Israel [bh]that year; for eighteen years they oppressed all the sons of Israel who were beyond the Jordan, [bi]in Gilead in the land of the Amorites. 9 And the sons of Ammon crossed the Jordan to fight also against Judah, Benjamin, and the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was in great difficulty.
10 Then the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have abandoned our God and served the Baals.” 11 And the Lord said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? 12 And when the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I saved you from their hands. 13 Yet you abandoned Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.” 15 Then the sons of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned, do to us whatever [bj]seems good to You; only please save us this day.” 16 So they removed the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord; and [bk]He could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
17 Then the sons of Ammon were summoned, and they camped in Gilead. And the sons of Israel gathered together and camped in Mizpah. 18 And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the sons of Ammon? He shall become head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
Jephthah, the Ninth Judge
11 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a [bl]valiant warrior, but he was the son of a prostitute. And Gilead had fathered Jephthah. 2 Gilead’s wife bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” 3 So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob; and worthless men gathered [bm]around Jephthah, and they went [bn]wherever he did.
4 Now it came about, after a while, that the sons of Ammon fought against Israel. 5 When the sons of Ammon fought against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob; 6 and they said to Jephthah, “Come and be our leader, that we may fight against the sons of Ammon.” 7 But Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “Did you not hate me and drive me from my father’s house? So why have you come to me now when you are in trouble?” 8 The elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “For this reason we have now returned to you, that you may go with us and fight the sons of Ammon, and become our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” 9 So Jephthah said to the elders of Gilead, “If you bring me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and the Lord gives them up [bo]to me, will I become your head?” 10 And the elders of Gilead said to Jephthah, “The Lord is [bp]witness between us; be assured we will do [bq]as you have said.” 11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and leader over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before the Lord at Mizpah.
12 So Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, “What conflict do you and I have, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” 13 And the king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, “It is because Israel took my land when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; so return them peaceably now.” 14 But Jephthah sent messengers once again to the king of the sons of Ammon, 15 and they said to him, “This is what Jephthah says: ‘Israel did not take the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. 16 For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the [br]Red Sea, and came to Kadesh, 17 then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let us pass through your land”; but the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent messengers to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. 18 Then they went through the wilderness and around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped beyond the Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. 19 And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land to our place.” 20 But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz, and fought with Israel. 21 And the Lord, the God of Israel, handed Sihon and all his people over to Israel, and they [bs]defeated them; so Israel took possession of all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. 22 So they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan. 23 And now the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven out the Amorites from His people Israel; so should you possess it? 24 Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God has dispossessed before us, we will possess it. 25 Now then, are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever contend with Israel, or did he ever fight against them? 26 While Israel was living in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? 27 So I have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me. May the Lord, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.’” 28 But the king of the sons of Ammon [bt]disregarded the message which Jephthah sent him.
Jephthah’s Tragic Vow
29 Now the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh; then he passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he went on to the sons of Ammon. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If You will indeed hand over to me the sons of Ammon, 31 then whatever comes out the doors of my house to meet me when I return [bu]safely from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the sons of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord handed them over to him. 33 He [bv]inflicted a very great defeat on them from Aroer [bw]to the entrance of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim. So the sons of Ammon were subdued before the sons of Israel.
34 But Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, and behold, his daughter was coming out to meet him with tambourines and with dancing. And she was his one and only child; besides her he had no son or daughter. 35 So when he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Oh, my daughter! You have brought me disaster, and you are among those who trouble me; for I have [bx]given my word to the Lord, and I cannot take it back.” 36 So she said to him, “My father, you have [by]given your word to the Lord; do to me just as [bz]you have said, since the Lord has brought you vengeance on your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” 37 And she said to her father, “Let this thing be done for me; allow me two months, so that I may [ca]go to the mountains and weep because of my virginity, I and my friends.” 38 Then he said, “Go.” So he let her go for two months; and she left with her friends, and wept on the mountains because of her virginity. 39 And at the end of two months she returned to her father, who did to her [cb]what he had vowed; and she [cc]had no relations with a man. And it became a custom in Israel, 40 that the [cd]daughters of Israel went annually to [ce]commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite for four days in the year.
Jephthah and His Successors
12 Now the men of Ephraim were summoned, and they crossed [cf]to Zaphon; and they said to Jephthah, “Why did you cross over to fight against the sons of Ammon without calling us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you!” 2 So Jephthah said to them, “I and my people were in a major dispute with the sons of Ammon; and I did call you, but you did not save me from their hand. 3 When I saw that you were no deliverer, I [cg]took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the Lord handed them over to me. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?” 4 Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought Ephraim; and the men of Gilead [ch]defeated Ephraim, because they said, “You are survivors of Ephraim, you Gileadites, in the midst of Ephraim and in the midst of Manasseh.” 5 And the Gileadites took control of the crossing places of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened whenever any of the survivors of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” that the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 6 then they would say to him, “Just say, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he was not [ci]prepared to [cj]pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slaughtered him at the crossing places of the Jordan. So at that time forty-two thousand from Ephraim fell.
7 Jephthah judged Israel for six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.
8 Now Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel after him. 9 He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters whom he [ck]gave in marriage outside the family, and he brought in thirty daughters from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel for seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried in Bethlehem.
11 Now Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel after him; he judged Israel for ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.
13 Now Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel after him. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys; and he judged Israel for eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.