Judges 9:16-18: Jotham's Allegory Applied, Part 1

Verse 16:[1] Now therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely, in that ye have made Abimelech king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house, and have done unto him (Judg. 8:35) according to the deserving of his hands…


[If rightly, etc., וּבְתָמִים[2]] In integrity, that is, sincerely (Drusius).


Verse 17:[3] (For my father fought for you, and adventured his life (Heb. cast his life[4]) far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian…


[Who fought for you, אֲשֶׁר־נִלְחַ֥ם אָבִ֖י עֲלֵיכֶ֑ם] For my father fought over you (Montanus), or, for you (Pagnine). For he fought for you, etc. (Syriac, Arabic, Munster, Junius and Tremellius, English, Dutch). [Therefore, this and the following verse they place in parentheses.] For he undertook war, etc. (Jonathan). Just as he did battle (Septuagint) [so that אֲשֶׁר/for is in the place of כַּאֲשֶׁר, just as]. Who waged war for you (Castalio). Since he fought (Osiander).


[And he delivered his soul to dangers, וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ מִנֶּ֔גֶד] And he cast his soul far off (Montanus), or, at a distance (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), far from himself (Vatablus). נֶגֶד, if a ל precedes, denotes drawing near; if a מ, removal, or elongation (Hebrews in Drusius). And exposing himself to war and death for your sake, etc. (Arabic). He cast away his soul from the opposite (Tigurinus, similarly Munster), that is, he set himself against enemies for you (Malvenda).


Hebrew: cast away his soul or life far off, out of his reach or power to recover it, that is, exposed himself to utmost hazard for your sakes.


Verse 18:[5] (Judg. 9:5, 6) And ye are risen up against my father’s house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother)…


[And ye have slain, etc.] But Abimelech killed them, not the Shechemites. Response: This deed is ascribed to the Shechemites with good reason, because they had consented and approved, and had also helped, as it is said in verse 24 (Glassius’ “Sacred Grammar” 292). And this counsel and help they gave to Abimelech, and refused to receive him as King before he had killed them: Moreover, they went with him unto the house of Gideon, etc. (Tostatus).


And ye are risen up…and have slain, etc.: Abimelech’s fact is justly charged upon them, as done by their consent, approbation, and assistance.


[Maidservant] Not only were captives taken as secondary wives, according to Deuteronomy 21:11, but also maidservants, Exodus 21:7 (Bonfrerius).


His maidservant; his concubine, whom he so calls by way of reproach, because maidservants were oft made concubines, Exodus 21:7-10. Over the men of Shechem; by which limitation of their power, and his kingdom, he reflects contempt upon him, and chargeth them with presumption, that having only power over their own city, they durst impose a king upon all Israel.

[1] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־בֶּאֱמֶ֤ת וּבְתָמִים֙ עֲשִׂיתֶ֔ם וַתַּמְלִ֖יכוּ אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וְאִם־טוֹבָ֤ה עֲשִׂיתֶם֙ עִם־יְרֻבַּ֣עַל וְעִם־בֵּית֔וֹ וְאִם־כִּגְמ֥וּל יָדָ֖יו עֲשִׂ֥יתֶם לֽוֹ׃


[2] תָּמִים means complete or sound.


[3] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁר־נִלְחַ֥ם אָבִ֖י עֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙ מִנֶּ֔גֶד וַיַּצֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִיַּ֥ד מִדְיָֽן׃


[4] Hebrew: וַיַּשְׁלֵ֤ךְ אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ֙.


[5] Hebrew: וְאַתֶּ֞ם קַמְתֶּ֙ם עַל־בֵּ֤ית אָבִי֙ הַיּ֔וֹם וַתַּהַרְג֧וּ אֶת־בָּנָ֛יו שִׁבְעִ֥ים אִ֖ישׁ עַל־אֶ֣בֶן אֶחָ֑ת וַתַּמְלִ֜יכוּ אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֤לֶךְ בֶּן־אֲמָתוֹ֙ עַל־בַּעֲלֵ֣י שְׁכֶ֔ם כִּ֥י אֲחִיכֶ֖ם הֽוּא׃

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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