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Verses 7-21

Jotham’s fable 9:7-21

Before Abimelech’s sole surviving brother went into hiding, he uttered a protest against Abimelech that predicted the effect of his rule. Jotham (lit. Yahweh is perfect, honest) stood on the same mountain where six of Israel’s tribes had declared the blessings of abiding by the Law of Yahweh and denounced the Shechemites for their foolish and wicked actions. The contrast between the Israelites’ commitments in Joshua 8, 24 and this passage must be one reason the writer included Abimelech’s story in Judges.

Jotham’s fable was a parable with a moral (cf. 2 Samuel 12:1-4; 2 Kings 14:9-10). It is generally recognized as the first parable in the Bible. The olive and fig trees and the grape vine represented productive human beings-oil, figs, and wine being among the most important products of Canaan. Brambles bore no fruit and offered no shelter or protection. They only injured those who got too close to them. Moreover they spontaneously burst into flames in hot weather and sometimes caused much damage consequently (Judges 9:15). Obviously the bramble represented Abimelech, the trees and vine more noble individuals, and the cedars of Lebanon the upright leaders of Shechem. [Note: For parallels to this fable in ancient Near Eastern literature, see W. C. van Wyk, "The Fable of Jotham in its Ancient Near Eastern Setting," in Studies in Wisdom Literature, pp. 89-95.]

Having finished his message Jotham fled to Beer (lit. Well, site uncertain) where he hid from his brother’s wrath. However, Beer may not have been the name of a town. Jotham may have hidden in some empty well for a long time (cf. 2 Samuel 17:18-21).

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