士师记 9

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1 耶路巴力的儿子亚比米勒到了示剑见他的众母舅,对他们和他外祖全家的人

2 请你们问示剑的,是耶路巴力的众子七十都管理你们呢?还是管理你们呢?你们又要记念我是你们的

3 他的众母舅便将这一切为他示剑人听,示剑人的就归向亚比米勒。他们:他原是我们的弟兄;

4 就从巴力比利土的庙中取了七十舍客勒亚比米勒;亚比米勒用以雇了些匪徒跟随他。

5 他往俄弗拉到他父亲的家,将他弟兄、耶路巴力的众子七十块磐上;只下耶路巴力的小儿子约坦,因为他躲藏了。

6 示剑人和米罗人都一同聚集,往示剑橡树旁的柱子那里,立亚比米勒为

7 有人将这事告诉约坦,他就去站在基利心顶上,向众人大声喊示剑人哪,你们要我的话,也就你们的话。

8 有一时树木,管理他们,就去对橄榄:请你作我们

9 橄榄回答:我岂肯止住供奉和尊重人的油,飘?在众之上呢?

10 树木无花果树:请你来作我们的王。

11 无花果树回答:我岂肯止住所结甜美的果子,飘?在众之上呢?

12 树木对葡萄:请你来作我们的王。

13 葡萄回答:我岂肯止住使和人喜乐的新酒,飘?在众之上呢。

14 荆棘:请你来作我们的王。

15 荆棘回答:你们若诚诚实实地我为,就要投在我的荫下;不然,愿荆棘里出,烧灭利巴嫩的香柏

16 现在你们立亚比米勒为王,若按诚实正直善待耶路巴力和他的全家,这就是酬他的劳。

17 从前我父冒死为你们争战,救了你们脱离米甸人

18 你们如今起来攻击我的父家,将他众子七十块磐上,又立他婢女所生的儿子亚比米勒为示剑的王;他原是你们的弟兄。

19 你们如今若按诚实正直待耶路巴力和他的家,就可因亚比米勒得欢乐,他也可因你们得欢乐;

20 不然,愿从亚比米勒发出,烧灭示剑人和米罗众人,又愿示剑人和米罗人中出来,烧灭亚比米勒。

21 约坦因怕他弟兄亚比米勒,就逃跑,来到比珥,在那里。

22 亚比米勒管理以色列人年。

23 使恶魔降在亚比米勒和示剑人中间,示剑人就以诡诈待亚比米勒。

24 这是要叫耶路巴力七十个儿子所受的残害归与他们的哥哥亚比米勒,又叫那流他们血的罪归与帮助他弟兄的示剑人。

25 示剑人在顶上设埋伏,等候亚比米勒。凡从他们那里经过的人,他们就抢夺。有人将这事告诉亚比米勒。

26 以别的儿子迦勒和他的弟兄示剑示剑人都信靠他。

27 示剑人出城到田间去,摘下葡萄,踹酒,设摆筵宴,进他们的庙中,咒诅亚比米勒。

28 以别的儿子迦勒:亚比米勒是谁?示剑是谁?使我们服事他呢?他不是耶路巴力的儿子麽?他的帮手不是西布勒麽?你们可以服事示剑的父亲哈抹的後裔。我们为何服事亚比米勒呢?

29 惟愿这民归我的,我就除掉亚比米勒。迦勒又对亚比米勒:增添你的军兵出来罢。

30 邑宰西布勒见以别的儿子迦勒的,就发怒,

31 悄悄地打发人去见亚比米勒,说:以别的儿子迦勒和他的弟兄到了示剑,煽惑城中的民攻击你。

32 现在你和跟随你的人今夜起来,在田间埋伏。

33 早晨太阳一出,你就起来闯城。迦勒和跟随他的人出来攻击你的时候,你便向他们见机而做。

34 於是,亚比米勒跟随他的众人夜间起来,分作队,埋伏等候示剑人。

35 以别的儿子迦勒出去,站在城门口。亚比米勒和跟随他的人从埋伏之处起来

36 迦勒见那些人,就对西布勒哪,有人从顶上来了。西布勒:你的影子,以为是人。

37 迦勒又:看哪,有人从,又有队从米恶尼尼橡树的上而

38 西布勒对他:你曾,亚比米勒是谁,叫我们服事他?你所夸的在哪里呢?这不是你所藐视的民麽?你现在出去,与他们交战罢!

39 於是迦勒率领示剑人出去,与亚比米勒交战。

40 亚比米勒追赶迦勒;迦勒在他面前逃跑,有许多受伤仆倒的,直到城

41 亚比米勒在亚鲁玛。西布勒赶出迦勒和他弟兄,不准他们示剑

42 次日,民出到田间,有人告诉亚比米勒;

43 他就把他的人分作队,埋伏在田间,见示剑人从城里出来,就起来击杀他们。

44 亚比米勒跟随他的一队向前闯去,站在城门口;那两队直闯到田间,击杀了众人。

45 亚比米勒整攻打城,将城夺取,了其中的居民,将城拆毁,撒上了

46 示剑楼的人见了,就躲入巴力比利土庙的卫所。

47 有人告诉亚比米勒说:示剑楼的人都聚在一处。

48 亚比米勒和跟随他的人就都上撒们。亚比米勒拿斧子,砍下一根枝,扛在肩上,对跟随他的人:你们我所行的,也当赶紧照样行。

49 就各砍一枝,跟随亚比米勒,把树枝堆在卫所的四围,放烧了卫所,以致示剑楼的死了女约有一

50 亚比米勒到提备斯,向提备斯安营,就攻取了那城。

51 城中有一座坚固的楼;城里的众人,无论男女,都逃进楼去,上门,上了楼顶。

52 亚比米勒到了楼前攻打,挨,要用焚烧。

53 妇人块上磨石抛在亚比米勒的上,打破了他的脑骨。

54 他就急忙喊拿他兵器的少年人,对他:拔出你的刀来,了我罢!免得人议论我,他为一个妇人。於是少年人把他刺透,他就死了

55 以色列人见亚比米勒死了,便各回自己的地方去了。

56 这样,报应亚比米勒向他父亲所行的恶,就是了弟兄七十个人的恶。

57 示剑人的一切恶,也都报应在他们上;耶路巴力的儿子约坦的咒诅归到们身上了。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士师记 9      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Judges 9: Abimelech’s conspiracy, the parable of the trees, Abimelech’s downfall.

This chapter follows the story of Gideon’s many sons; he had seventy sons by his many wives, and also one other son, Abimelech, by a concubine. After Gideon’s death, Abimelech went to the men of Shechem, where his mother’s family lived, and asked them if they would rather be ruled by seventy sons, or by him. The men of Shechem agreed it would be better to have one king, so they gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal. Using the silver, Abimelech hired men to come with him, and they killed the seventy sons of Gideon except the youngest, Jotham, who hid. Then they anointed Abimelech king.

When Jotham heard the news, he stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and taunted the men of Shechem with a parable. In his parable, the trees were searching for a king to lead them; they ask the olive, then the fig, then the vine to rule over them. Each refuses, because they do not want to give up their special purpose. Finally, the bramble agrees to lead them, but gives them the choice of either sheltering in its non-existent shade or being consumed by its own fire.

Jotham explained the parable, warning that Abimelech and the men of Shechem would more than likely tear each other down in the end. Then he fled to Beer to escape his brother’s vengeance.

After Abimelech had ruled Israel for three years, the Lord sent an evil spirit to spark ill-will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. This evil spirit was meant to avenge the killing of Gideon’s seventy sons.

The rest of this chapter describes the city’s descent into chaos, illustrating the various manifestations of evil and falsity through many examples. Robbers were sent to ambush travellers in the mountains, the people of Shechem drunkenly cursed Abimelech in the temple of their god, and the tower of Shechem was burned, killing a thousand hiding in it. Finally, Abimelech lay siege to Thebez, and the people took shelter on the top of a tower there. When he tried to burn that tower, a woman hurled down a millstone to break Abimelech’s skull. In his final moments, Abimelech commanded his armourbearer to kill him with his sword, so that people would not say he was killed by a woman. All of these incidents depict the absolute corruption under Abimelech’s rule.

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The key to understanding this story is that Gideon’s son, Abimelech, is the son of a concubine, not a lawful wife. Spiritually speaking, a concubine stands for a love that has become distorted. A genuine love for someone is a love for sake of that other person, while a distorted love means loving someone for what we can get from them (see Swedenborg’s work, Divine Love and Wisdom 271[2], on the love of dominating for the sake of self-love).

The references to Gideon’s seventy sons stand for the enormity of Abimelech’s wrongdoing. The number ‘seven’ stands for something fully worked through, and seventy even more so.

Jotham’s parable presents three levels of pure love: the love of the Lord (the olive with its fragrant oil), the love of truth (the vine with its rich wine), and the love of use (the fig with its abundant seeds). The bramble, with its painful grip, stands for a love of evil and falsity (see Swedenborg’s work, Arcana Caelestia 273).

The evil spirit sent by the Lord seems to show that God was punishing his own people, but that is only how things appear (Arcana Caelestia 1838). When we look deeper, we will realize that we are punished by our own evil actions, for evil breeds more evil and there is no rest for the wicked (see Isaiah 48:22). In regeneration, the process of breaking down the power of evil and false states in ourselves is called “vastation”. Once we have done the grueling work to minimize these influences over us, we can fully appreciate the joys of spiritual life (Arcana Caelestia 2694[2]).

Spiritually, an ambush depicts the way hell attacks our minds: without warning. Drunkenness and cursing a former ally stands for the abandonment of all values and integrity. The tower represents the pride which rises up in self-love and love of dominance, and beyond that, Abimelech’s aversion to being killed by a woman stands for the rejection of all that is good and true. Her millstone grinds corn to make it edible, in the same way that we must process truths to put them to use (see Swedenborg’s work, Apocalypse Explained 1182).

This powerful chapter shows the descent of evil into greater evils, until they become so consuming they have no vestige of good left, and no recognition of truth remaining. The final two verses state: “Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Gideon.”

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