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Judges 9:1

ESV Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives and said to them and to the whole clan of his mother’s family,
NIV Abimelek son of Jerub-Baal went to his mother's brothers in Shechem and said to them and to all his mother's clan,
NASB Now Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem, to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the entire family of the household of his mother’s father, saying,
CSB Abimelech son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem and spoke to his uncles and to his mother's whole clan, saying,
NLT One day Gideon’s son Abimelech went to Shechem to visit his uncles — his mother’s brothers. He said to them and to the rest of his mother’s family,
KJV And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother's brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother's father, saying,

What does Judges 9:1 mean?

Shechem was an ancient city, even in Gideon's time. It dated back as far as the time of Abraham. Situated north of Jerusalem, it occupied a strategic place in a valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Archaeologists have discovered a great temple in the ruins of ancient Shechem, which stood for hundreds of years before being destroyed, as described in this chapter.

Judges chapter 9 is a fascinating departure from the pattern of the rest of the book. Most segments of the book of Judges continue after the death of one champion by explaining Israel's fall and redemption under another judge (Judges 2:11–19). In this case, the text includes a concluding chapter tied to Gideon's story. In a way, this is a post-script of Gideon's influence, since he has died by the time this passage begins. The story depicts what became of Gideon's son by his concubine in the town of Shechem (Judges 8:29–31). Scholars suggest she was a Canaanite, since Shechem was a center of Canaanite worship.

Though many English translations suggest Gideon named this son Abimelech, the wording allows that the name came from the boy's mother. Gideon's concubine likely did not come and live with him as his other wives did. She would have been kept apart from the family. Gideon would have come to see her from time to time. This would partly explain why the child would be given a name meaning "the king is my father," though Gideon was not literally a king (Judges 8:22–23). Further, this separation would likely have meant Abimelech grew up separately from his half-brothers.

Abimelech's story begins with his visit to see his mother and her extended family in Shechem. He considers them his native people and wants their local leaders to support his plan.
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