Judges 9:57 OJPS

and all the wickedness of the men of Shechem did God requite upon their heads; and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.

My understanding on this book is still growing, and so I do not want to assume. I have a very little understanding about "The Parable of the Trees" Thanks to God, The biblical commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki), and Danno.

So to understand a little better I am hoping to learn what this curse was. I hope also to learn what specifically took place to fulfill this curse. Thank you so much.

2 Answers 2


Judges – Chapter 9 The Rise and Fall of Avimelech

The curse was that those who rely of improper leaders will eventually be destroyed by those leaders.

Note that Gideon was Yerubaal (because he destroyed the idol) and Yosam is another transliteration of Jotham. Thus "curse" of Yosam was that he declared that the people of Shechem would be punished by being destroyed by the "thornbush" (inappropriate leader) that they backed and would be punished for the murder of Gideon's children.

Note that the thornbush is something that would catch fire and destroy those things that are wrapped in it ("protected" by it). This shows that the burning of the tower and the death of the people of Shechem was "midah keneged middah" (tit for tat).

The Rise and Fall of Avimelech By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Avimelech stirred up trouble in the city of Shechem. He suggested that all 70 of Gidon’s sons would become rulers over the nation and wouldn’t it be better if there was just one (i.e., him)? The people of Shechem were from Avimelech’s mother’s side of the family. They gave Avimelech 70 pieces of silver with which he hired mercenaries who killed all the other sons of Gidon, except for Yosam, the youngest, who hid. (Avimelech had them killed at a particular rock, a fact that will become important later on.) The people of Shechem then crowned Avimelech king.

Yosam then called out to the people of Shechem. He used a parable likening the great leaders Osniel, Devorah and Gidon to an olive tree, a fig tree and a grape vine, all of whom refused to be monarch over the nation, but Avimelech is like a thornbush – no fruit, only fuel for fire and destruction. Since the people of Shechem acted with malice against Gidon’s family, they would be repaid in kind.

Avimelech ruled for three years, after which time the people of Shechem rebelled. Gaal son of Eved stirred up opposition against Avimelech and offered to depose him. Z’vul, a loyal city leader, sent word to Avimelech warning of the mutiny and asking him to put it down. Avimelech’s army went forth and battled Gaal’s forces. Avimelech set fire to the tower of Shechem and killed about a thousand people.

Proceeding to Teibeitz, Avimelech started to lay siege to another tower, but a woman dropped a millstone on his head, mortally wounding him. Avimelech asked his armorbearer to kill him so that history would not record that he was killed by a woman. After Avimelech’s death, his army dispersed. Both Avimelech and the people of Shechem were repaid for their treachery against Gidon’s family.

So, remember that Avimelech had his brothers killed at a particular rock? He was repaid in kind by being killed by a rock. Furthermore, we see the power of ego. Avimelech was so vain that with his dying breath he was worried that history would record that he was killed by a woman. In the end, not only does the Bible record that a woman killed him, but that he was so worried about his ego, even in death.

  • 2
    Your answer could be improved by mentioning that Gideon is Jerubaal and that Yosam is another transliteration of Jotham. People not familiar with the story of Gideon himself and/or (ashkenazi) Hebrew.
    – Yitzchak
    May 13, 2014 at 14:03
  • I do appreciate the summary of events that occurred between the death of Gideon and the Death of Avimelech. God knows that I need a deeper understanding to all of this. I still fail to completely see where he even stated a curse. Yet I give you points because it has been explained how the curse was fulfilled, and also the generally understood meaning behind the curse. Both of which I did really need, so thank you, and honor to your household.
    – Decrypted
    May 13, 2014 at 19:42

Yes, the Bible expressly mentions the curse in Judges chapter 9 verse 20. Jotham, Gideon's lone youngest son that survived the slaughter of being killed on the one rock; he stood up like a man and gave them a lecture about the trees and the vines. Jotham stated in verse 9:20, "But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the men of Shechem and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo and devour Abimelech ." So Abimelech was slain by a woman throwing the stone from the tower before it burned and then he was also burned when the tower fell from the burning . And in Judges chapter 9 verse 52 -57, shows that the fire that appears to be started by man; apparently the curse was fulfilled and that the fire was really from from Jehovah. So Jotham told the curse and it was fulfilled 3 years later. He was killed by a stone or rock, the same object that Gideon's sons were slain by.


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