Judges 9:26: The Pretender, Gaal, Appears

Verse 26:[1] And Gaal the son of Ebed came with his brethren, and went over to Shechem: and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him.


[Gaal] Who, and of whom, or of what tribe, he was, is not evident (Bonfrerius). He was an enemy and rival of Abimelech, who, with Abimelech deposed as common and unworthy, was going about to be made the Prince of the Shechemites, verse 29 (Lapide). A man, great with respect to family, wealth, and strength; the same, popular and gracious (Menochius out of Serarius).


Gaal: It is not known who or of what tribe Gaal was; but it is evident that he was a man very considerable for wealth, and strength, and counsel, and interest, and ill-pleased with Abimelech’s power.


[And he went over to Shechem[2]] They went over to Shechem (Septuagint, Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Drusius). They crossed the Jordan. See Judges 6:33[3] (Drusius). Others: They arrived at Shechem (Arabic, similarly Junius and Tremellius). Thus in the Latin, transire, to go over, is put in the place of ire, to go: A compound in the place of a simple. Terence: Transeundum tibi nunc est ad Menedemum, It is now necessary for thee to pass over to Menedemus.[4] Thus, in Genesis 33:14, let him pass over befor his servant,[5] that is, let him go: in Exodus 17:5, pass over before the people:[6] in Amos 6:2, pass ye unto Calneh:[7] And, Beer-sheba do not pass over,[8] that is, do not approach (Drusius). They passed over, that is, with their former habitation left, they went into Shechem (Vatablus).


Went over to Shechem, by his presence and counsel to animate and assist them against Abimelech.


[Growing in confidence, etc.] They were confident in him, as one that was going to be an able General against Abimelech (Piscator). And the secret defection of the Shechemites now erupted into open sedition, stirred up by that factious man, Gaal (Oleaster[9]). They were raised to a greater hope by his coming (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֞א גַּ֤עַל בֶּן־עֶ֙בֶד֙ וְאֶחָ֔יו וַיַּעַבְר֖וּ בִּשְׁכֶ֑ם וַיִּבְטְחוּ־ב֖וֹ בַּעֲלֵ֥י שְׁכֶֽם׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיַּעַבְר֖וּ בִּשְׁכֶ֑ם.


[3] Judges 6:33: “Then all the Midianites and the Amalekites and the children of the east were gathered together, and went over (וַיַּעַבְרוּ), and pitched in the valley of Jezreel.”


[4] Self-Tormentor 4:3.


[5] Genesis 33:14: “Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servantיַעֲבָר־נָ֥א אֲדֹנִ֖י) לִפְנֵ֣י עַבְדּ֑וֹ): and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.”


[6] Exodus 17:5a: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the peopleעֲבֹר֙ לִפְנֵ֣י) הָעָ֔ם), and take with thee of the elders of Israel…”


[7] Amos 6:2a: “Pass ye unto Calneh (עִבְר֤וּ כַֽלְנֵה֙), and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines…”


[8] Amos 5:5: “But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba (וּבְאֵ֥ר שֶׁ֖בַע לֹ֣א תַעֲבֹ֑רוּ): for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.”


[9] Jerome Olivier, or de Oleastro (died 1563), was a Portuguese Dominican monk. He was widely esteemed within his order for his abilities in Greek and Hebrew, and his intimate acquaintance with the Scriptures.

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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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