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21 March. Judges chapter 9
A single chapter that records one of the worst times for the recent settlers in Canaan. After Gideon had won them peace, instead of accepting a leader appointed by God, they accept Abimelech as their king. He had led a bloody coup, killing all but one of his 70 half-brothers in order to gain power. Eventually Abimelech does get killed, once again by the hand of a woman (see Jael, 19 March), but not before further battles and bloodshed.
It’s hard to see anything good in these tales of warfare, internecine struggle and treachery. But there is one ray of sunshine. The one survivor among Gideon’s sons, Jothan, it says with restrained understatement, “stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud”. He then tells the “parable of the trees” to those who have supported Abimelech’s coup, in which all the fruit trees refuse to cease producing fruit in order to become king over the other trees, leaving the bramble to “devour them with fire”. This a lovely poetic way of expressing a truth, that just because one is good at one thing does not mean one should leave that to seek fame and glory as a leader.