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Judges 9:29: Gaal's Bid for Power

Verse 29:[1] And (2 Sam. 15:4) would to God this people were under my hand! then would I remove Abimelech. And he said to Abimelech, Increase thine army, and come out.

[Would the one would put, etc.] Would that ye Shechemites would supply me with troops; I offer myself as general (Bonfrerius). Would that that people might be subject to me (Vatablus), so that I, even I, might reign on its behalf (Lapide). Hence it is evident that not all the Shechemites were of the same opinion, but many were of the party of Abimelech (Martyr).

Under my hand, that is, under my command; I wish you would unanimously submit to me, as your captain and governor; for he found them divided, and some of them hearkening after Abimelech, whom they had lately rejected, according to the levity of the popular humour.

[That I might remove Abimelech] Then I would remove, or drive away, Abimelech. I would remove from him royal dignity (Vatablus). But had they not previously removed him? Yes; but now he says that he is to be thoroughly removed, that he might be deprived of all right (Drusius).

Then would I remove Abimelech; as you have driven him out of your city, I would drive him out of your country.

[And it was told to Abimelech, וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ לַאֲבִימֶ֔לֶךְ] And, or then (Syriac), or afterwards (Junius and Tremellius), he said to Abimelech (Jonathan, Montanus, Vatablus, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius), who was absent, as if present (Vatablus, Piscator), through a rhetorical Apostrophe[2] (Piscator). He said, Increase thine army, etc., that is, Take with thee the greatest possible army, and do battle with me (Vatablus). Others: Someone said to Abimelech (Pagnine). And I would say to Abimelech, Arm thy friends, etc. (Arabic). And it was told, etc. (Vulgate, Osiander), that is, by someone (namely, Zebul) he was warned of what was going to happen (Bonfrerius). It was told to Abimelech, by certain ones, namely, who were yet loyal to him, what Gaal was boasting and planning; and these messengers were encouragers to him, that he take arms in a timely way to put down the sedition, saying, Increase thine army, and go forth (Osiander). Some words ought often to be translated impersonally, of which sort are אָמַר, he said, or one said, and קָרָא, he called, or one called (Bonfrerius).

He said to Abimelech; he sent this message or challenge to him, I desire not to surprise thee at any disadvantage; strengthen thyself as much as thou canst, and come out into the open field, that thou and I may decide it by our arms.

[1] Hebrew: וּמִ֙י יִתֵּ֜ן אֶת־הָעָ֤ם הַזֶּה֙ בְּיָדִ֔י וְאָסִ֖ירָה אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ לַאֲבִימֶ֔לֶךְ רַבֶּ֥ה צְבָאֲךָ֖ וָצֵֽאָה׃

[2] That is, an exclamation addressed to an absent person, usually in a poem.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Aug 13, 2018

Matthew Henry: 'Gaal aimed not to recover Shechem's liberty, only to change their tyrant: "O that this people were under my hand! What I would do! I would challenge Abimelech to try titles for the crown;" and it should seem he desired his friends to send him word that he was ready to dispute it with him whenever he pleased: "Increase thy army, and come out. Do thy worst; let the point be determined by the sword." This pleased the Shechemites, who were now as sick of Abimelech as ever they had been fond of him. Men of no conscience will be men of no constancy.'

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