Judges 9:47-49: Abimelech's Assault on the Tower of Shechem

Verse 47:[1] And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.


Verse 48:[2] And Abimelech gat him up to mount (Ps. 68:14) Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an axe in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do (Heb. I have done[3]), make haste, and do as I have done.


[Unto mount Zalmon[4]] Near to Shechem and Millo, concerning which Psalm 68:14 (Lapide). It was in the tribe of Ephraim, Eastward as far as Jordan (Serarius). It has its name from shadow;[5] because it was shady with trees (Malvenda, similarly Menochius).


Zalmon; a place so called from its shadiness, because there were many trees there.


Verse 49:[6] And all the people likewise cut down every man his bough, and followed Abimelech, and put them to the hold, and set the hold on fire upon them; so that all the men of the tower of Shechem died also, about a thousand men and women.


[Branches…cutting off, אִ֣ישׁ שׂוֹכֹ֗ה] Each man his branch, that is, branches (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). שׂוֹכֹה is from שׂוֹךְ/branch; or שׂוֹכוֹת is in the place of שׂוֹכָתוֹ, his branch; just as we say צוּרָם, their Rock,[7] is in the place of צוּרָתָם, and פִּנָּהּ, her corner,[8] is in the place of פִּנָתָהּ. It is called a ramus/branch from its obumbrando/overshadowing (Drusius).

[They set fire] Hebrew: they set fire upon them,[9] that is, upon the citadel, in which they were shut up (Vatablus).


[They were killed, וַיָּמֻ֜תוּ גַּ֣ם] They were killed also, understanding, just as the citizens of Shechem were killed; or, just as also the keepers of that citadel (Vatablus).

[A thousand…men, etc.] About a thousand men and women (Junius and Tremellius), but after thousand a comma is to be placed; that is to say, approximately a thousand men, partly men, partly women (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֻּגַּ֖ד לַאֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ כִּ֣י הִֽתְקַבְּצ֔וּ כָּֽל־בַּעֲלֵ֖י מִֽגְדַּל־שְׁכֶֽם׃


[2] Hebrew: וַיַּ֙עַל אֲבִימֶ֜לֶךְ הַר־צַלְמ֗וֹן הוּא֮ וְכָל־הָעָ֣ם אֲשֶׁר־אִתּוֹ֒ וַיִּקַּח֩ אֲבִימֶ֙לֶךְ אֶת־הַקַּרְדֻּמּ֜וֹת בְּיָד֗וֹ וַיִּכְרֹת֙ שׂוֹכַ֣ת עֵצִ֔ים וַיִּ֙שָּׂאֶ֔הָ וַיָּ֖שֶׂם עַל־שִׁכְמ֑וֹ וַיֹּ֜אמֶר אֶל־הָעָ֣ם אֲשֶׁר־עִמּ֗וֹ מָ֤ה רְאִיתֶם֙ עָשִׂ֔יתִי מַהֲר֖וּ עֲשׂ֥וּ כָמֽוֹנִי׃


[3] Hebrew: עָשִׂיתִי.


[4] Hebrew: צַלְמוֹן.


[5] Hebrew: צֵל.


[6] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרְת֙וּ גַם־כָּל־הָעָ֜ם אִ֣ישׁ שׂוֹכֹ֗ה וַיֵּ֙לְכ֜וּ אַחֲרֵ֤י אֲבִימֶ֙לֶךְ֙ וַיָּשִׂ֣ימוּ עַֽל־הַצְּרִ֔יחַ וַיַּצִּ֧יתוּ עֲלֵיהֶ֛ם אֶֽת־הַצְּרִ֖יחַ בָּאֵ֑שׁ וַיָּמֻ֜תוּ גַּ֣ם כָּל־אַנְשֵׁ֧י מִֽגְדַּל־שְׁכֶ֛ם כְּאֶ֖לֶף אִ֥ישׁ וְאִשָּֽׁה׃


[7] Deuteronomy 32:30: “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock (צוּרָם) had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up?” Likewise in Deuteronomy 32:31; Psalm 78:35.


[8] Proverbs 7:8: “Passing through the street near her corner (פִּנָּהּ); and he went the way to her house…”


[9] Hebrew: וַיַּצִּ֧יתוּ עֲלֵיהֶ֛ם.

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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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