Judges 9:6: The King-Making of Abimelech

Verse 6:[1] And all the men of Shechem gathered together, and all the house of Millo, and went, and made Abimelech king, by the plain of the pillar (Heb. or, by the oak of the pillar:[2] see Josh. 24:26) that was in Shechem.


[Families of the city of Millo, וְכָל־בֵּ֣ית מִלּ֔וֹא] And all the house of Millo (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Malvenda, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). This was the city or town closest to Shechem (Menochius, Lapide), and subordinate to it. This is different from the chasm of Millo, which was between Zion and Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:9 (Lapide). To others Beth-Millo is the name of a place (certain interpreters in Malvenda). The house of Millo, that is, all the Princes to whom the public business was referred, who were wont to be assembled in a place called Beth-Millo, la maison de la villa, the house of the city, in French. Also, the container is able to be taken for the thing contained,[3] the place for the men, that is, the entire senate. Millo also signifies a congregation. It is able to be taken for a place of assemblies, where there was deliberation concerning public affairs, as there was in Jerusalem (Vatablus). This is called מִלּוֹא/Millo, because it was filled with men. All the house of Millo is able to be expressed metonymically, and the whole senate full; that is to say, In a full assembly they created him King (Malvenda). And all the inhabitants of the fortification (Junius and Tremellius), which is called a tower in verse 46 (Piscator). Perhaps all that were occupying the citadel of the city of Shechem and all its fortifications, namely, all the Shechemite soldiers forming a guard (Malvenda). To me Millo appears to have been the name of a man (Drusius).


Of Millo; of a place or person so called; some eminent and potent family living in Shechem, or near to it; either the family of Abimelech’s mother, or some other: or, and all Beth-Millo; so Beth is not a house, but a part of the name of the place. Made Abimelech king, to wit, over all Israel, verse 22, which was a strange presumption for the inhabitants of one city to undertake; but they had many advantages and encouragements for it; as the eager, and general, and constant inclination of the Israelites to kingly government; Abimelech’s being the son of Gideon, to whom and to his sons they offered the kingdom, Judges 8:22; and though the father could and did refuse it for himself, yet they might imagine that he could not give away his son’s right, conveyed to them by the Israelites, in their offer; the universal defection of the Israelites from God to Baal, whose great patron and champion Abimelech pretended to be; the power and prevalency of the tribe of Ephraim, in which Shechem was, Joshua 20:7, whose proud and imperious spirit, manifested Judges 8:1; 12:1, would make them readily close with a king of their own brethren; and Abimelech’s getting the start of all others, having the crown actually put upon his head, and an army already raised to maintain his tyranny.


[Near the oak that was standing in Shechem, עִם־אֵל֥וֹן מֻצָּ֖ב] The word אֵלוֹן signifies both an oak and a plain (Drusius). [Hence they vary.] They render it the oak (Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Tigurinus, Drusius); the plain (Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius); with the plain situated (Montanus). In the plain of the statue, that is, in the street in which there was a certain statue (Vatablus). Near, or by, the plain of the statue (Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius). In a field, namely, that one, near Shechem, where Joshua is read to have erected a great stone under an oak, Joshua 24:26 (Junius). Note here that עִם/with here is in the place of סְמוּךְ, next to or near. Thus in Genesis 25:11, עִם־בְּאֵר, near the well, or certainly, at the well, says Abenmelech[4] (Drusius). Thus עִם־יְבוּס, by Jebus[5] (certain interpreters in Drusius). Rather, at the oak of the statue, that is, which has a statue adjoined (Piscator). At the oak of standing; because the Shechemites were wont to gather at the same, and there to conduct their conventions and assemblies (Lapide). Or thus, at the oak of standing, namely, military and presidiary, which was in Shechem. You would not absurdly expound it, with the strength of the station in Shechem; that is, to the consent of the Shechemite people and Senate in selecting Abimelech to be King also is added the strength of the military station that was at Shechem. Moreover, the מֻצָּב is able to be, either a Hiphil passive participle, established, fixed, etc., or a substantive noun, station, post, presidio, where soldiers stand, Isaiah 29:3[6] (Malvenda). The Gentiles were wont to make Kings at certain eminent places, as at trees, or springs, or great stones (Tostatus).


By the plain of the pillar, or, by the oak of the pillar, that is, by the oak, where Joshua erected a pillar as a witness of the covenant renewed between God and Israel, Joshua 24:26. This place they chose, to signify that they still owned God, and their covenant with him; and did not worship Baal in opposition to God, but in conjunction with him, or in subordination to him.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֵּאָ֙סְפ֜וּ כָּל־בַּעֲלֵ֤י שְׁכֶם֙ וְכָל־בֵּ֣ית מִלּ֔וֹא וַיֵּ֣לְכ֔וּ וַיַּמְלִ֥יכוּ אֶת־אֲבִימֶ֖לֶךְ לְמֶ֑לֶךְ עִם־אֵל֥וֹן מֻצָּ֖ב אֲשֶׁ֥ר בִּשְׁכֶֽם׃


[2] Hebrew: עִם־אֵל֥וֹן מֻצָּ֖ב.


[3] מָלֵא signifies to be full, or to fill.


[4] Rabbi Solomon Abenmelech (flourished in the sixteenth century) was a native of Spain, and wrote annotations on the entirety of the Old Testament, in which he drew heavily upon the grammatical observations of Kimchi.


[5] Judges 19:11.


[6] Isaiah 29:3: “And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount (מֻצָּב), and I will raise forts against thee.”

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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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