1 One day Gideon's* son Abimelech went to Shechem to visit his mother's brothers. He said to them and to the rest of his mother's family,1
2 "Ask the people of Shechem whether they want to be ruled by all seventy of Gideon's sons or by one man. And remember, I am your own flesh and blood!"
3 So Abimelech's uncles spoke to all the people of Shechem on his behalf. And after listening to their proposal, they decided in favor of Abimelech because he was their relative.
4 They gave him seventy silver coins from the temple of Baal-berith, which he used to hire some soldiers who agreed to follow him.
5 He took the soldiers to his father's home at Ophrah, and there, on one stone, they killed all seventy of his half brothers. But the youngest brother, Jotham, escaped and hid.
6 Then the people of Shechem and Beth-millo called a meeting under the oak beside the pillar* at Shechem and made Abimelech their king.2
7 When Jotham heard about this, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted, "Listen to me, people of Shechem! Listen to me if you want God to listen to you!
8 Once upon a time the trees decided to elect a king. First they said to the olive tree, `Be our king!'
9 But it refused, saying, `Should I quit producing the olive oil that blesses both God and people, just to wave back and forth over the trees?'
10 "Then they said to the fig tree, `You be our king!'
11 But the fig tree also refused, saying, `Should I quit producing my sweet fruit just to wave back and forth over the trees?'
12 "Then they said to the grapevine, `You be our king!'
13 But the grapevine replied, `Should I quit producing the wine that cheers both God and people, just to wave back and forth over the trees?'
14 "Then all the trees finally turned to the thornbush and said, `Come, you be our king!'
15 And the thornbush replied, `If you truly want to make me your king, come and take shelter in my shade. If not, let fire come out from me and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'
16 "Now make sure you have acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelech your king, and that you have done right by Gideon* and all of his descendants. Have you treated my father with the honor he deserves?3
17 For he fought for you and risked his life when he rescued you from the Midianites.
18 But now you have revolted against my father and his descendants, killing his seventy sons on one stone. And you have chosen his slave woman's son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative.
19 If you have acted honorably and in good faith toward Gideon and his descendants, then may you find joy in Abimelech, and may he find joy in you.
20 But if you have not acted in good faith, then may fire come out from Abimelech and devour the people of Shechem and Beth-millo; and may fire come out from the people of Shechem and Beth-millo and devour Abimelech!"
21 Then Jotham escaped and lived in Beer because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.
22 After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years,
23 God stirred up trouble* between Abimelech and the people of Shechem, and they revolted.4
24 In the events that followed, God punished Abimelech and the men of Shechem for murdering Gideon's seventy sons.
25 The people of Shechem set an ambush for Abimelech on the hilltops and robbed everyone who passed that way. But someone warned Abimelech about their plot.
26 At that time Gaal son of Ebed moved to Shechem with his brothers and gained the confidence of the people of Shechem.
27 During the annual harvest festival at Shechem, held in the temple of the local god, the wine flowed freely, and everyone began cursing Abimelech.
28 "Who is Abimelech?" Gaal shouted. "He's not a true descendant of Shechem!* Why should we be Abimelech's servants? He's merely the son of Gideon, and Zebul is his administrator. Serve the men of Hamor, who are Shechem's true descendants. Why should we serve Abimelech?5
29 If I were in charge, I would get rid of Abimelech. I would say* to him, `Get some more soldiers, and come out and fight!' "6