8:14. He took a boy of the men of Soccoth: and he asked him the names of the princes and ancients of Soccoth, and he described unto him seventy- seven men.
8:15. And he came to Soccoth, and said to them: Behold Zebee, and Salmana, concerning whom you upbraided me, saying: Peradventure the hands of Zebee and Salmana are in thy hands, and therefore thou demandest that we should give bread to the men that are weary and faint.
8:16. So he took the ancients of the city, and thorns and briers of the desert, and tore them with the same, and cut in pieces the men of Soccoth.
8:17. And he demolished the tower of Phanuel, and slew the men of the city.
8:18. And he said to Zebee and Salmana: What manner of men were they, whom you slew in Thabor? They answered: They were like thee, and one of them as the son of a king.
8:l9. He answered them: They were my brethren, the sons of my mother. As the Lord liveth, if you had saved them, I would not kill you.
8:20. And he said to Jether, his eldest son: Arise, and slay them. But he drew not his sword: for he was afraid, being but yet a boy.
8:21. And Zebee and Salmana said: Do thou rise and run upon us: because the strength of a man is according to his age: Gedeon rose up, and slew Zebee and Salmana: and he took the ornaments and bosses, with which the necks of the camels of kings are wont to be adorned.
8:22. And all the men of Israel said to Gedeon: Rule thou over us, and thy son, and thy son's son: because thou hast delivered us from the hand of Madian.
8:23. And he said to them: I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you, but the Lord shall rule over you.
8:24. And he said to them: I desire one request of you: Give me the earlets of your spoils. For the Ismaelites were accustomed to wear golden earlets.
8:25. They answered: We will give them most willingly. And spreading a mantle on the ground, they cast upon it the earlets of the spoils.
8:26. And the weight of the earlets that he requested, was a thousand seven hundred sicles of gold, besides the ornaments, and jewels, and purple raiment, which the kings of Madian were wont to use, and besides the golden chains that were about the camels necks.
8:27. And Gedeon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city Ephra.
And all Israel committed fornication with it, and it became a ruin to Gedeon, and to all his house.
An ephod... A priestly garment which Gedeon made with a good design; but the Israelites, after his death, abused it by making it an instrument of their idolatrous worship.
8:28. But Madian was humbled before the children of Israel, neither could they any more lift up their heads: but the land rested for forty years, while Gedeon presided.
8:29. So Jerobaal, the son of Joas, went and dwelt in his own house:
8:30. And he had seventy sons, who came out of his thigh, for he had many wives.
8:31. And his concubine, that he had in Sichem, bore him a son, whose name was Abimelech.
His concubine... She was his servant, but not his harlot: and is called his concubine, as wives of an inferior degree are commonly called in the Old Testament, though otherwise lawfully married.
8:32. And Gedeon, the son of Joas died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father, in Ephra, of the family of Ezri.
8:33. But after Gedeon was dead, the children of Israel turned again, and committed fornication with Baalim. And they made a covenant with Baal, that he should be their god:
8:34. And they remembered not the Lord their God, who delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies round about:
8:35. Neither did they shew mercy to the house of Jerobaal Gedeon, according to all the good things he had done to Israel.
Judges Chapter 9
Abimelech killeth his brethren. Joatham's parable. Gaal conspireth with the Sichemites against Abimelech, but is overcome. Abimelech destroyeth Sichem: but is killed at Thebes.
9:1. And Abimelech, the son of Jerobaal, went to Sichem, to his mother's brethren, and spoke to them, and to all the kindred of his mother's father, saying:
9:2. Speak to all the men of Sichem: whether is better for you that seventy men, all the sons of Jerobaal, should rule over you, or that one man should rule over you? And withal, consider that I am your bone, and your flesh.
9:3. And his mother's brethren spoke of him to all the men of Sichem, all these words, and they inclined their hearts after Abimelech, saying: He is our brother:
9:4. And they gave him seventy weight of silver out of the temple of Baalberith: wherewith he hired to himself men that were needy, and vagabonds, and they followed him.
Baalberith... That is, Baal of the covenant, so called from the covenant they had made with Baal, chap. 8.33.
9:5. And he came to his father's house in Ephra, and slew his brethren, the sons of Jerobaal, seventy men, upon one stone: and there remained only Joatham, the youngest son of Jerobaal, who was hidden.
9:6. And all the men of Sichem were gathered together, and all the families of the city of Mello: and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak that stood in Sichem.
9:7. This being told to Joatham, he went, and stood on the top of Mount Garizim: and lifting up his voice, he cried, and said: Hear me, ye men of Sichem, so may God hear you.
9:8. The trees went to anoint a king over them: and they said to the olive tree: Reign thou over us.
9:9. And it answered: Can I leave my fatness, which both gods and men make use of, to come to be promoted among the trees?
Both gods and men make use of... The olive tree is introduced, speaking in this manner, because oil was used both in the worship of the true God, and in that of the false gods, whom the Sichemites served.
9:10. And the trees said to the fig tree: Come thou and reign over us.
9:11. And it answered them: Can I leave my sweetness, and my delicious fruits, and go to be promoted among the other trees?
9:12. And the trees said to the vine: Come thou and reign over us.
9:13. And it answered them: Can I forsake my wine, that cheereth God and men, and be promoted among the other trees?
Cheereth God and men... Wine is here represented as agreeable to God, because he had appointed it to be offered up with his sacrifices. But we are not obliged to take these words, spoken by the trees, in Joatham's parable, according to the strict literal sense: but only in a sense accomodated to the design of the parable expressed in the conclusion of it.
9:14. And all the trees said to the bramble: Come thou and reign over us.
9:15. And it answered them: If, indeed, you mean to make me king, come ye, and rest under my shadow: but if you mean it not, let fire come out from the bramble, and devour the cedars of Libanus.
9:16. Now, therefore, if you have done well, and without sin, in appointing Abimelech king over you, and have dealt well with Jerobaal, and with his house, and have made a suitable return for the benefits of him who fought for you,
9:17. And exposed his life to dangers, to deliver you from the hand of Madian,
9:18. And you are now risen up against my father's house, and have killed his sons, seventy men, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his handmaid, king over the inhabitants of Sichem, because he is your brother:
9:19. If therefore you have dealt well, and without fault, with Jerobaal and his house, rejoice ye, this day, in Abimelech, and may he rejoice in you.
9:20. But if unjustly: let fire come out from him, and consume the inhabitants of Sichem, and the town of Mello: and let fire come out from the men of Sichem and from the town of Mello, and devour Abimelech.