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What tree represents Jotham and/or Abimelek? Or am I completely missing the point of this parable? Help would be appreciated.

Judges 9:7-15 OJPS

7 And when they told it to Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim, and lifted up his voice, and cried, and said unto them: 'Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you. 8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive-tree: Reign thou over us. 9 But the olive-tree said unto them: Should I leave my fatness, seeing that by me they honour God and man, and go to hold sway over the trees? 10 And the trees said to the fig-tree: Come thou, and reign over us. 11 But the fig-tree said unto them: Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruitage, and go to hold sway over the trees? 12 And the trees said unto the vine: Come thou, and reign over us. 13 And the vine said unto them: Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to hold sway over the trees? 14 Then said all the trees unto the bramble: Come thou, and reign over us. 15 And the bramble said unto the trees: If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shadow; and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon.

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I think the answer is in verse 20. –  david brainerd May 10 at 3:47

1 Answer 1

The biblical commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) explains the following (from the chabad.com website):

On verse 8

the trees went forth: This is allegorical.

to the olive tree: Referring to Othniel the son of Kenaz from the tribe of Judah, which is called an olive tree, as it says, (Jer. 11:16) “Like a fresh olive tree, beautiful in form, etc.” (this refers to the cities of Judah mentioned in v. 13 ibid).

on verse 10

to the fig tree: Deborah.

on verse 12

to the vine: Referring to Gideon who descended from Joseph of whom it is said, (Gen. 49:22) “A fruitful son is Joseph; blessed as a vine standing by the water” (as per Onkelos).

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Who then does the Bramble represent? –  Only he is good. May 11 at 1:36
    
Comparing verse 15 to 20, it seems that the thorn is Avimelech –  Danno May 11 at 1:50
    
I see your connection between "and if not, let fire come out of the bramble"(15) and "But if not, let fire come from Avimelech"(20). Yet in 15 "And the bramble said unto the trees: If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shadow; and if not" making it appear to me as an alternate perspective. Yet I am careful not to jump to the conclusion that the identity is Jotham because it also mentions "and let fire come from the men of Shechem and from Beth Millo and devour Avimelech"(20) as well. Thoughts? –  Only he is good. May 11 at 2:09
    
in 15, the thorn speaks of having been named king. In 16, the text relates that Avimelech was made king. Add those to the parallels from 15 and 20 and it seems that the thorn is Avimelech. –  Danno May 11 at 3:28
    
Yet he said "if not, let fire come". If fire did come, is that not a sign that the bramble was not made king? Thank you while I try to grasp this all. Or did fire not come? –  Only he is good. May 18 at 0:05

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