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Judges 9:1

Abimelech Murders His Brothers

9:1 Now Abimelech son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem to see his mother’s relatives. 1  He said to them and to his mother’s entire extended family, 2 

Judges 9:45-49

9:45 Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed all the people in it. Then he leveled 3  the city and spread salt over it. 4 

9:46 When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem 5  heard the news, they went to the stronghold 6  of the temple of El-Berith. 7  9:47 Abimelech heard 8  that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were in one place. 9  9:48 He and all his men 10  went up on Mount Zalmon. He 11  took an ax 12  in his hand and cut off a tree branch. He put it 13  on his shoulder and said to his men, “Quickly, do what you have just seen me do!” 14  9:49 So each of his men also cut off a branch and followed Abimelech. They put the branches 15  against the stronghold and set fire to it. 16  All the people 17  of the Tower of Shechem died – about a thousand men and women.

1 tn Heb “brothers.”

2 tn Heb “to all the extended family of the house of the father of his mother.”

3 tn Or “destroyed.”

4 tn Heb “sowed it with salt.”

sn The spreading of salt over the city was probably a symbolic act designed to place the site under a curse, deprive it of fertility, and prevent any future habitation. The practice is referred to outside the Bible as well. For example, one of the curses in the Aramaic Sefire treaty states concerning Arpad: “May Hadad sow in them salt and weeds, and may it not be mentioned again!” See J. A. Fitzmyer, The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefire (BibOr), 15, 53. Deut 29:23, Jer 17:6, and Zeph 2:9 associate salt flats or salty regions with infertility and divine judgment.

5 sn Perhaps the Tower of Shechem was a nearby town, distinct from Shechem proper, or a tower within the city.

6 tn Apparently this rare word refers here to the most inaccessible area of the temple, perhaps the inner sanctuary or an underground chamber. It appears only here and in 1 Sam 13:6, where it is paired with “cisterns” and refers to subterranean or cave-like hiding places.

7 sn The name El-Berith means “God of the Covenant.” It is probably a reference to the Canaanite high god El.

8 tn Heb “and it was told to Abimelech.”

9 tn Heb “were assembled.”

10 tn Heb “his people.”

11 tn Heb “Abimelech.” The proper name has been replaced with the pronoun (“he”) due to considerations of English style.

12 tn The Hebrew text has the plural here.

13 tn Heb “he lifted it and put [it].”

14 tn Heb “What you have seen me do, quickly do like me.”

15 tn The words “the branches” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

16 tn Heb “they kindled over them the stronghold with fire.”

17 tn Or “men,” but the word seems to have a more general sense here, as the conclusion to the sentence suggests.

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