Judges 9:20 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 9:20, NIV: But if you have not, let fire come out from Abimelek and consume you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and let fire come out from you, the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo, and consume Abimelek!'

Judges 9:20, ESV: But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.”

Judges 9:20, KJV: 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.

Judges 9:20, NASB: But if not, may fire come out of Abimelech and consume the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and may fire come out of the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo, and consume Abimelech.'

Judges 9:20, NLT: But if you have not acted in good faith, then may fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leading citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo; and may fire come out from the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo and devour Abimelech!'

Judges 9:20, CSB: But if not, may fire come from Abimelech and consume the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo, and may fire come from the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo and consume Abimelech."

What does Judges 9:20 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jotham brings his proclamation from the mountaintop (Judges 9:7) to an abrupt end. This is a prophecy of destruction for all below: the people of Shechem and the murderous Abimelech, whom they anointed after paying him to kill Gideon's sons (Judges 9:1–6). This is also described as a curse of vengeance from the sole survivor of Abimelech's massacre.

The uninvited speech included a fable about trees, who selected the worthless bramble as their king (Judges 9:8–15). The point of Jotham's tirade is that Shechem has not acted sincerely or honestly. They funded murder, dishonored Gideon, and are anointing someone they know full well is not qualified for the role. In the fable, the bramble promised fire and death if his new subjects were not acting "in good faith."

Knowing Shechem has not acted "in good faith," Jotham prophecies fire—meaning destruction and ruin—will come from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem. It will also consume the well-to-do area inside Shechem known as Beth-millo. As well, they will send death and harm back on Abimelech. This curse predicts that the new king and citizens of Shechem will destroy each other. The story that follows shows how true Jotham's prophecy was (Judges 9:56–57).