Tag Archives: Cursed Creation

Bad Boys Of The Bible: Abimelech

Bad Boys of the Bible

Abimelech

Judges 9 The Voice

1 Abimelech, the son of Jerubbaal, went to Shechem to the clan of his mother.

Abimelech (to his mother’s family): 2 Go, and say this so that all the leaders of Shechem can hear you: “Is it better that 70 sons of Jerubbaal should be your rulers, or only one of them?” And remember that I share your own bone and flesh.

3 So Abimelech’s mother’s kinsmen went out and repeated these words to the leaders of Shechem, and they were favorably disposed toward him because they said, “He is our brother.” 4 They gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver out of the treasury of Baal-berith, and he used the money to hire some reckless and worthless men who followed him and did his dirty work.

5 He went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed all 70 of his half-brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. (Only Jotham, the youngest, was left alive, because he hid.) 6 Then all the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo came together and crowned Abimelech king by the great oak tree at the pillar in Shechem.

7 When Jotham was told what had happened, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim.

Jotham: Listen to me, all you who are the leaders in Shechem, so that God may listen to you.

8 The trees once decided to go out
and anoint a king to rule them all.
They said to the olive tree,
“Reign over us.”
9 But the olive tree refused, saying,
“Should I stop producing the rich oil used to honor both gods and mortals so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
10 Then the trees went to the fig tree, saying,
“You come and reign over us.”
11 But the fig tree refused, saying,
“Should I give up my sweetness and stop producing my delicious fruit so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
12 Then the trees said to the grapevine,
“You come and reign over us.”
13 But the vine refused, saying,
“Should I stop producing the wine that cheers both gods and mortals so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
14 At last the trees came to the worthless thornbush, saying,
“You come and reign over us.”
15 And the thornbush said to the trees,
“If in good faith you want to anoint me as your king,
then come and take refuge in my shade (of which there was precious little).
But if you haven’t come in good faith, then let fire come from my brambles
and burn down the cedars of Lebanon.”

16 Now if you have made this decision to crown Abimelech king in good faith, with sincerity, have acted honorably toward my father Jerubbaal and his family, and have treated him as his actions toward you deserve; 17 you know how my father fought for you, risked his life for you, rescued you from the hand of the Midianites. 18 But now here you are, rising up against my father’s house, killing all of his sons, 70 of them, on one stone; and you have made Abimelech, the son of my father’s slave woman, king over all the leaders of Shechem, simply because he is your kinsman. 19 Well, I say, if you have acted honorably toward Jerubbaal and his family, then now may you take joy in Abimelech, and may he take joy in you.

20 But if you have not acted honorably, then may fire come out of Abimelech and burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo. May fire come from you and burn up Abimelech.

21 When he had said these words, Jotham fled for his life to Beer, where he stayed because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.

22 Abimelech was king over Israel for three years. 23 Then the one True God sent an evil spirit to stir up dissension between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem. Consequently the leaders of Shechem acted with treachery against Abimelech; 24 and all of this happened so that the brutal murder of Jerubbaal’s 70 sons might be avenged and their bloodguilt laid upon their brother Abimelech, who had ordered their deaths, and on the leaders of Shechem who had lent their strength to his cause.

25 As a result of their new hatred for Abimelech, the leaders of Shechem began to ambush travelers along the mountain roads, robbing everyone who passed by, and these robberies were reported to Abimelech.

26 When Gaal, the son of Ebed, arrived in Shechem with his family, the leaders of Shechem trusted him. 27 After they had been in the fields, gathered the grapes, and trampled them for wine, they celebrated a festival in the temple of their god. While they ate and drank, they insulted Abimelech.

Gaal: 28 Who is this Abimelech, and who are we here in Shechem that we should serve him? Didn’t the son of Jerubbaal and his deputy, Zebul, serve the men of Hamor, Shechem’s father? Why then should we serve him? 29 I wish this people were under my command! I would get rid of Abimelech. I would tell him, “Go ahead. Call out your army!”

30 When Zebul, who governed the city, heard what Gaal, the son of Ebed, said, he was furious. 31 Secretly he sent messengers to Abimelech.

Zebul’s Message: Here’s what’s happening: Gaal, son of Ebed, and his family have come to Shechem, and they are igniting the city against you. 32 You should go by night with your troops and lie in wait in the fields. 33 Then in the morning, when the sun comes up, march on the city; and when Gaal and his forces come out to defend it, you can deal with them.

34 Abimelech and his troops prepared to do just as Zebul suggested. Four companies of men waited for morning. 35 When Gaal, the son of Ebed, went outside, stood in the gate of the city, and looked out, Abimelech and his troops rose from their hiding places to attack.

Gaal (seeing them): 36 Look, Zebul, people are coming down from the mountaintops!

Zebul: It’s just the shadows on the mountains. They must look like men to you.

Gaal: 37 No, look! One company is coming right down the center, and another company is coming from the direction of the fortune-teller’s tree!

Zebul: 38 Where are your big words now? Where is the loudmouth who said, “Who is this Abimelech, that we should serve him?” Aren’t these the men you insulted? Go on, fight them!

39 So Gaal gathered the leaders of Shechem, and they fought against Abimelech’s forces. 40 Abimelech overwhelmed Gaal and chased him and his men, many of whom were wounded and fell along the way as they retreated, all the way to the gate. 41 Abimelech remained in Arumah, and Zebul threw Gaal and his people out of Shechem.

42 The next day the people of Shechem went out to work the fields. After hearing this news, Abimelech 43 took his troops, divided them into three groups, and set an ambush in the fields.

When he saw the people emerge from Shechem, he ordered his troops to attack them. 44 Abimelech and his men captured a forward position at the city gate, cutting off any retreat. Then the other two companies of Abimelech’s men swept down on the people trapped in the fields and cut them down. 45 Abimelech continued his attack all day long, until he had captured Shechem and killed everyone in it. Then he demolished the city and scattered salt over the place where it had once stood.

Abimelech here carries out a devastating act in antiquity that ensures the death of an agricultural area, both food and water sources, for subsequent generations.

46 When those leaders inside the tower of Shechem heard this news, all of them entered into the stronghold of the temple of El-berith. 47 Abimelech learned that all the leaders were in the tower, and 48 he took his men up Mount Zalmon. There he took an ax, cut a bundle of firewood, and hoisted it atop his shoulders, ordering his men to quickly do the same. 49 When they had all cut and loaded their wood, they followed Abimelech back to the stronghold, where they piled the wood against the walls and set fire to it, killing about 1,000 men and women inside the tower of Shechem.

50 Next, Abimelech went on to Thebez. He laid siege to it, captured it, and 51 discovered that in the city was a strong tower where the leaders and men and women of the city had locked themselves in to escape and had climbed onto the roof. 52 So he stormed the tower, ready to burn this tower as he had the other. 53 But this time as he approached the entrance, a woman dropped an upper millstone upon him, crushing his skull.

Abimelech (to his armor-bearer): 54 Take your sword and kill me. I won’t have anyone say that I died like this—killed by a woman.

The young man killed Abimelech with the sword.

55 When the people of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went back home.

56 So God avenged the evil that Abimelech had committed against his father by murdering his 70 brothers, 57 and the evil of the leaders of Shechem God brought back on their heads; everything happened just as Jotham, son of Jerubbaal, had prophesied when he cursed them all.

More Bad Boys Of The Bible

Undead: How Faith & The Living Dead Intersect

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 Undead. Author Clay Morgan explores death and the supernatural, explaining how faith and the living dead intersect.

Zombies aren’t just around for Halloween anymore, with the genre finding huge success in Hollywood. AMC’s hit show, The Walking Dead, is just one of the many Zombie-focused stories out there today.

Recently, Morgan shared with CBN.com about this phenomenon, what we can learn from these supernatural stories and how Jesus is the epitome of the “anti-zombie”.

What’s a Christian doing writing a book about zombies?

Clay Morgan: I wrote a book about zombies for much the same reason C.S. Lewis wrote a book like The Screwtape Letters about demons—to find light in the darkness. Tales of the supernatural are ready-made for Christianity. Zombies are ridiculously popular and culturally relevant, so zombies are a great way to get someone’s attention. From there we can have a marvelous discussion about spiritual life and spiritual death.

I’m also genuinely interested in the topic and pop culture in general. Millions of people never go to church or learn about biblical faith. For them, entertainment may be the sole medium informing their beliefs of the supernatural. If someone walks out of a movie about zombies or vampires asking questions about life beyond the grave then that’s a great opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about eternal things.

Have you received any criticism for examining themes like horror and zombies?

CM: Nothing major yet, but I certainly expected some. I’m sure some people don’t want anything to do with zombies, even as a starting point for discussing biblical miracles, but anyone who reads the book will see that it’s about much more. The stories are fun, so there’s not much of a horror/zombie vibe for most readers.

Why are we fascinated by the living dead?

CM: In part I think we’re compelled by the world in which they live, a post-apocalyptic environment where humanity as we know it is over. There are no more bills to pay or jobs to pursue or social circles to navigate. There’s equality in the face of death.

As for the monsters, it’s hard to look away from such an uncompromising threat. And on a deeper level we recognize the meaning of an existence with no hope for redemption. Their totality is so threatening. One misstep and it’s over. And the victims in these stories often don’t just die; they are turned into evil monsters which is more terrifying than anything.

Why is being scared entertaining?

CM: For most people it’s exciting, an adrenaline rush. The key is that we aren’t in any real danger, so we pay a lot of money for the illusion of such things. Maybe some of us are just thrill seekers. I suspect that part of it is a desire to find out what our thresholds are. What I do know is that if a horror movie plot like a zombie outbreak really happened it would not be fun! The real thing would be so truly terrifying, but entertainment is a different thing.

What’s your favorite zombie film, and why?

CM: I think the first zombie movie that truly captivated me was 28 Days Later in which a man wakes from a coma after London has already been devastated by plague. In addition to the quality of the filmmaking and suspense the story makes you think about fate and the meaningful relationships in our lives. Most of all, you have to consider what humanity becomes in the face of ultimate depravity. After all, zombies are a visible representation of cursed creation.

If I have a clear favorite, it’s probably Zombieland which balances humor with the fright of a world gone wrong. That one really allows you to see the empty stores and communities and consider what the world might look like during an apocalypse.

What spiritual lessons do zombie stories teach us?

CM: The biggest lesson might be that it’s possible to exist without truly being alive. A lot of us shamble through life, thoughtlessly going through the motions while feeling dead inside. That includes people in churches and youth groups. We may look like we’re alive to the people around us while masking the decay in our heart.

I used to punch in on Sundays and walk away largely unchanged. What are we living for? What is the meaning of our existence? Zombies aimlessly roam around looking for one more chance to gorge on an appetite of destruction, yet no matter how much they feed on what they desire they are always empty. If anybody has ever wondered what’s missing in life they can probably relate to that kind of emptiness. Fortunately, we don’t have to stay that way. God offers ultimate fulfillment, an abundant life.

A section of your book is titled, ‘Undead in the Bible’. Are you saying there are zombies in the Bible?

CM: That idea is really the heart of the book. Most of the chapters in Undead describe the six individuals in the New Testament who were raised from the dead by God. Jesus performed three of these jaw-dropping miracles and became the fourth. Peter and Paul were also used to bring someone back from the dead.

Of course, these individuals weren’t zombies in the Hollywood sense. Like Lazarus, those folks were restored to full life. But the wordplay makes sense since culture is so fascinated with dead people coming back to life. I thought it was pretty cool to show how many times that type of thing happened in the Bible. The same God who brought people back from physical death in the first century is still able to bring us back from spiritual death today.

In Undeadyou say we see ourselves in zombies. How’s that?

CM: The thing about zombies is that they look familiar in their t-shirts, jeans, curlers, and slippers. Other monsters—such as aliens, vampire, or werewolves for example—look so different. We see ourselves in zombies, the worst possible version of our neighbors and ourselves. They hit close to home.

Metaphorically, some of us see frightening reflections of ourselves when we look in the mirror because we know ugly, personal truths.

A major theme of a lot of zombie films and stories is when the living become more monstrous than the zombies in their quest for survival. What is it about zombie movies that help us to examine the dark side of human nature?

CM: You’ve nailed it. Zombie fiction is always about the survivors and how they’ll interact. The title of that show The Walking Dead isn’t a reference to the zombies but to the people attempting to go on. These stories reduce everything to its base. Money and social status don’t help anyone. In such dire circumstances the truth about human nature is revealed, and we know it isn’t pretty. The ancient prophet Jeremiah said that our hearts are deceitful above all else and even desperately wicked. Any good zombie story shows how wicked some people can be.

“Jesus is the anti-zombie”. Please, do explain.

CM: Zombies are the complete opposite to Jesus. They come back from the dead to take lives. Jesus came back from the dead to give life to all. Zombies are damaged, decaying, and terrifying. Jesus came back resurrected in perfection, a beautiful sight to all who believe. Zombies transform people from life to death. Jesus offers transformation from death to life. That’s why I call him the anti-zombie.

Undead also gets into vampires. How does that folklore play into this?

CM: Monster stories often subvert God’s story. For example, vampires receive immortality at the expense of their soul. They take blood to have life which is completely the opposite of Jesus who gave blood so that others might have life. Blood is a central theme throughout both scripture and vampire lore.

The other thing about vampires is that they are the ultimate in selfishness which is something I used to really struggle with. To use another metaphor, spiritual vampires are takers and they can be found anywhere, churches included. We need to make sure we’re not acting like vampires to the people around us by losing sight of what it means to be a servant like Jesus.

Beyond talk of zombies and vampires, this book speaks to deeper issues. What is the message?

CM: The ultimate message of Undead is that God is able to breathe life into each one of us. He wants to transform us, and it will be the most awesome miracle we’ve ever experienced. Spiritual death isn’t just about ignoring God. If we’re honest, some of us may be in churches every week but know that something big is missing from our lives. Like Lazarus, it’s possible to be a friend of Jesus for a while before experiencing a whole new level of his miraculous, life-giving power in a new way.

Who do you know that needs to hear about the transforming power of God? Maybe they’re not even interested in going to church but they just might find Undead engaging enough to discover the mind-blowing force of God’s love.


Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah’s bio page.


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