士師記 9

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1 耶路巴力的兒子亞比米勒到了示劍見他的眾母舅,對他們和他外祖全家的人

2 請你們問示劍的,是耶路巴力的眾子七十都管理你們呢?還是管理你們呢?你們又要記念我是你們的

3 他的眾母舅便將這一切為他示劍人聽,示劍人的就歸向亞比米勒。他們:他原是我們的弟兄;

4 就從巴力比利土的廟中取了七十舍客勒亞比米勒;亞比米勒用以雇了些匪徒跟隨他。

5 他往俄弗拉到他父親的家,將他弟兄、耶路巴力的眾子七十塊磐上;只下耶路巴力的小兒子約坦,因為他躲藏了。

6 示劍人和米羅人都一同聚集,往示劍橡樹旁的柱子那裡,立亞比米勒為

7 有人將這事告訴約坦,他就去站在基利心頂上,向眾人大聲喊示劍人哪,你們要我的話,也就你們的話。

8 有一時樹木,管理他們,就去對橄欖:請你作我們

9 橄欖回答:我豈肯止住供奉和尊重人的油,飄颻在眾之上呢?

10 樹木無花果樹:請你來作我們的王。

11 無花果樹回答:我豈肯止住所結甜美的果子,飄颻在眾之上呢?

12 樹木對葡萄:請你來作我們的王。

13 葡萄回答:我豈肯止住使和人喜樂的新酒,飄颻在眾之上呢。

14 荊棘:請你來作我們的王。

15 荊棘回答:你們若誠誠實實地我為,就要投在我的蔭下;不然,願荊棘裡出,燒滅利巴嫩的香柏

16 現在你們立亞比米勒為王,若按誠實正直善待耶路巴力和他的全家,這就是酬他的勞。

17 從前我父冒死為你們爭戰,救了你們脫離米甸人

18 你們如今起來攻擊我的父家,將他眾子七十塊磐上,又立他婢女所生的兒子亞比米勒為示劍的王;他原是你們的弟兄。

19 你們如今若按誠實正直待耶路巴力和他的家,就可因亞比米勒得歡樂,他也可因你們得歡樂;

20 不然,願從亞比米勒發出,燒滅示劍人和米羅眾人,又願示劍人和米羅人中出來,燒滅亞比米勒。

21 約坦因怕他弟兄亞比米勒,就逃跑,來到比珥,在那裡。

22 亞比米勒管理以色列人年。

23 使惡魔降在亞比米勒和示劍人中間,示劍人就以詭詐待亞比米勒。

24 這是要叫耶路巴力七十個兒子所受的殘害歸與他們的哥哥亞比米勒,又叫那流他們血的罪歸與幫助他弟兄的示劍人。

25 示劍人在頂上設埋伏,等候亞比米勒。凡從他們那裡經過的人,他們就搶奪。有人將這事告訴亞比米勒。

26 以別的兒子迦勒和他的弟兄示劍示劍人都信靠他。

27 示劍人出城到田間去,摘下葡萄,踹酒,設擺筵宴,進他們的廟中,咒詛亞比米勒。

28 以別的兒子迦勒:亞比米勒是誰?示劍是誰?使我們服事他呢?他不是耶路巴力的兒子麼?他的幫手不是西布勒麼?你們可以服事示劍的父親哈抹的後裔。我們為何服事亞比米勒呢?

29 惟願這民歸我的,我就除掉亞比米勒。迦勒又對亞比米勒:增添你的軍兵出來罷。

30 邑宰西布勒見以別的兒子迦勒的,就發怒,

31 悄悄地打發人去見亞比米勒,說:以別的兒子迦勒和他的弟兄到了示劍,煽惑城中的民攻擊你。

32 現在你和跟隨你的人今夜起來,在田間埋伏。

33 早晨太陽一出,你就起來闖城。迦勒和跟隨他的人出來攻擊你的時候,你便向他們見機而做。

34 於是,亞比米勒跟隨他的眾人夜間起來,分作隊,埋伏等候示劍人。

35 以別的兒子迦勒出去,站在城門口。亞比米勒和跟隨他的人從埋伏之處起來

36 迦勒見那些人,就對西布勒哪,有人從頂上來了。西布勒:你的影子,以為是人。

37 迦勒又:看哪,有人從,又有隊從米惡尼尼橡樹的上而

38 西布勒對他:你曾,亞比米勒是誰,叫我們服事他?你所誇的在哪裡呢?這不是你所藐視的民麼?你現在出去,與他們交戰罷!

39 於是迦勒率領示劍人出去,與亞比米勒交戰。

40 亞比米勒追趕迦勒;迦勒在他面前逃跑,有許多受傷仆倒的,直到城

41 亞比米勒在亞魯瑪。西布勒趕出迦勒和他弟兄,不准他們示劍

42 次日,民出到田間,有人告訴亞比米勒;

43 他就把他的人分作隊,埋伏在田間,見示劍人從城裡出來,就起來擊殺他們。

44 亞比米勒跟隨他的一隊向前闖去,站在城門口;那兩隊直闖到田間,擊殺了眾人。

45 亞比米勒整攻打城,將城奪取,了其中的居民,將城拆毀,撒上了

46 示劍樓的人見了,就躲入巴力比利土廟的衛所。

47 有人告訴亞比米勒說:示劍樓的人都聚在一處。

48 亞比米勒和跟隨他的人就都上撒們。亞比米勒拿斧子,砍下一根枝,扛在肩上,對跟隨他的人:你們我所行的,也當趕緊照樣行。

49 就各砍一枝,跟隨亞比米勒,把樹枝堆在衛所的四圍,放燒了衛所,以致示劍樓的死了女約有一

50 亞比米勒到提備斯,向提備斯安營,就攻取了那城。

51 城中有一座堅固的樓;城裡的眾人,無論男女,都逃進樓去,上門,上了樓頂。

52 亞比米勒到了樓前攻打,挨,要用焚燒。

53 個婦人把塊上磨石拋在亞比米勒的上,打破了他的腦骨。

54 他就急忙喊拿他兵器的少年人,對他:拔出你的刀來,了我罷!免得人議論我,他為一個婦人所。於是少年人把他刺透,他就死了

55 以色列人見亞比米勒死了,便各回自己的地方去了。

56 這樣,報應亞比米勒向他父親所行的惡,就是了弟兄七十個人的惡。

57 示劍人的一切惡,也都報應在他們上;耶路巴力的兒子約坦的咒詛歸到們身上了。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 士師記 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.

*****

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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