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Verses 7-21

The Parable of Jotham

v. 7. And when they told it, the entire story concerning the election of Abimelech, to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of Mount Gerizim, overlooking Shechem from the south, and lifted up his voice, and cried and said unto them, Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you, a summons after the manner of the prophets. Now follows his parable.

v. 8. The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them, no special reason being given for this desire; and they said unto the olive-tree, Reign thou over us.

v. 9. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, have I lost my oil, have I become worthless, and go to be promoted over the trees, waving back and forth in an uncertain rule, an honor which may be taken from him at any time, by the fickleness of the subjects.

v. 10. And the trees said to the fig-tree, Come thou and reign over us.

v. 11. But the fig-tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

v. 12. Then said the trees unto the vine, a symbol of government, as that which gives peace and comfort, Come thou and reign over us.

v. 13. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, a proverbial saying signifying that wine cheers all persons, even the highest and noblest, and go to be promoted over the trees? So all these trees rightly considered their calling of bearing precious fruits for the use of mankind of more importance than the uncertain honor of an elective kingship.

v. 14. Then said all the trees unto the bramble, the thorn-bush, Come thou and reign over us.

v. 15. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth, a fact which she could as yet hardly believe, ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow, words which contain a cutting irony, as the Shechemites soon found out to their sorrow; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, the despised and dangerous weed, also on account of its combustibility, and devour the cedars of Lebanon, the noblest trees in the country. Jotham now himself makes the application of his parable.

v. 16. Now, therefore, if ye have done truly and sincerely in that ye have made Abimelech, that dangerous thorn-bush, king, and if ye have dealt well with Jerubbaal, who refused royal honors in Israel, and his house, and have done unto him according to the deserving of his hands, if it was such treatment which they had really deserved at the hands of the Shechemites or of all Israel;

v. 17. (for my father fought for you, and adventured his life far, and delivered you out of the hand of Midian;

v. 18. and ye are risen up against my father's house this day, and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons, upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maid-servant, for that was the actual position of Gideon's concubine, the mother of Abimelech, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;) all these facts having been duly considered by them,

v. 19. if ye, then, have dealt truly and sincerely, in faithfulness and uprightness, with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice ye in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you, an expression of bitter scorn over their murderous faithlessness;

v. 20. but if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house, the inhabitants, of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech. So both the sinful trees and their tyrannical king were destined to be consumed.

v. 21. And Jotham ran away, before the men of the city could recover from their surprise, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech, his brother, for Abimelech was a tyrant and might put him to death, if he caught him. The government of tyrants and godless persons always brings misfortune upon a people and especially upon the Church.

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