Today’s reading begins with Abimelech’s treachery against his family and concludes with Ammonites coming out to attack the people of Israel.
Israel had been rescued from the Midianites by Gideon. He had fought valiantly and brought peace to the land. One of the acts of Gideon was that he destroyed one of the statues of Baal, and because of this, he had been given the name Jerubbaal. After Jerubbaal’s death, one of his sons, Abimelech used his father’s fame to manipulate the people of Shechem to put their trust in him.
The people of Shechem gave him 70 pieces of silver and he used this money to hire a gang of thugs to all seventy of his brothers. Only his youngest brother, Jotham, survived and reported what Abimelech had done to the people of Shechem. Jotham felt that the people of Shechem had not acted in good faith and just before fleeing from the leaders of Shechem, he cursed them for their evil deeds against his family.
God had seen what Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem had done and God began to subvert the relationship between Abimelech and the people of Shechem. The tension between these two parties grew stronger until they began plotting against one another for their destruction. In the end, God destroyed Abimelech and returned evil on the people of Shechem because of the curse put upon them both by Jotham.