Questions to Consider
1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?
2. Briefly review lesson 8 (link above) to set the scene for this week’s passage.
3. Read 1-2. Who were Jerubbaal and Abimelech? (1) Was Gideon’s son supposed to rule over the people? (2) Who was supposed to rule over them? Before you read any farther in chapter 9, think about this: The book of Judges is a case study of what happens when people reject God’s authority over their lives in favor of their own authority over their lives. How has that worked out in Judges so far? How do you think that’s going to work out for Abimelech and the people of Shechem in Chapter 9?
How did that work out for you before you got saved? Consider that every time you sin, even as a Christian, you are rejecting God’s authority (His commands in His Word) in favor of your own (“I’ll do what I want.”). How does that work out for you, even as a Christian?
4. Read 3-21. Who was Baal-berith? (4) Explain (16-20) the parable Jotham told in 7-15. What was the message he was trying to get across to the people of Shechem and to Abimelech? Had the people of Shechem “dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved”? (16)
Compare Jotham’s courage and actions (16-21) to his father Gideon’s courage and actions. Consider Jotham’s (21) and Gideon’s actions to protect themselves and minimize danger to themselves at the hands of evil men while / after doing the right and godly thing. Does this indicate cowardice or prudence? Why?
5. Read 22-57. Summarize, in your own words, the plot line of this story. How does God’s justice bookend (23-24, 57) this story and point to God as the perfectly just judge? How does this story drive home the point that God should have been the One to rule over the people? That they should have submitted to His rule and authority instead of trading it for their own rule and authority?
The “Tower of Shechem” (46) and the “strong tower” of Thebez (51) were reinforced, military towers. Many fortified cities of the time built these towers for the exact purpose we see in this passage – so that, if the city were under siege, its leaders (and often the majority of the town, see verses 49, 51), could lock themselves into it and, hopefully, survive the onslaught. Those inside the tower had the advantage of height and could shoot (arrows) or throw things (53) down onto the enemy. Those attacking the tower had the disadvantage of being exposed in an open area. How does this knowledge help you better understand passages like these?
Compare 52-54 – Abimelech’s shame over a woman killing him – with God crediting women – Deborah and Jael – instead of Barak, with the victory over Sisera (lesson 5, link above). Does Abimelech’s shame help you get even more of a sense that the story of Deborah is not a “girl power” story but a “man up” story?
What was the “curse of Jotham ” (20) mentioned in verse 57?
6. “Bible trivia” question: Where else in Scripture is the event in 52-54 described, and why is it mentioned there? (Check your answer here.)
Verse 23 says that “God sent an evil spirit”. Does this indicate that God somehow approves of evil or that God instigates sin or forces people to sin? Consider how evil Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem already were and how many evil spirits were already hard at work in their lives and this situation. How can you tell from the text that this particular evil spirit mentioned in verse 23 was not inciting anything that was against the will of Abimelech or the men of Schechem?
Look up the cross-references for verse 23. Since God is completely sovereign over every aspect of the universe, can evil spirits (demons) go anywhere or do anything without God permitting them to do so? Think about all of the demons that must be at work in the world today. Are any of them acting outside of God’s control? Upon comparing verse 23 and its cross-references, can you see how these references to God “sending” an evil spirit are simply pulling back the curtain a bit on the spiritual realm to give us a glimpse of how God specifically uses a particular evil spirit in a particular situation?