Judges 9:45 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 9:45, NIV: All that day Abimelek pressed his attack against the city until he had captured it and killed its people. Then he destroyed the city and scattered salt over it.

Judges 9:45, ESV: And Abimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and killed the people who were in it, and he razed the city and sowed it with salt.

Judges 9:45, KJV: And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

Judges 9:45, NASB: Abimelech fought against the city that whole day, and he captured the city and killed the people who were in it; then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.

Judges 9:45, NLT: The battle went on all day before Abimelech finally captured the city. He killed the people, leveled the city, and scattered salt all over the ground.

Judges 9:45, CSB: So Abimelech fought against the city that entire day, captured it, and killed the people who were in it. Then he tore down the city and sowed it with salt.

What does Judges 9:45 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abimelech wants to end Shechem and everything in it once and for all. The leaders of the city made him their ruler. They had even helped hire murderers to assist Abimelech in executing his brothers, making him the undisputed heir of Gideon's authority (Judges 9:1–6). It didn't take long for conflict to arise between the two sides, however (Judges 9:22–25). Shechem's leaders wanted him dead and gone. Yet Abimelech had routed them and their puppet leader in battle (Judges 9:38–41). Unsatisfied, Abimelech then ambushed and killed the people of the city who came out to work the fields the next day (Judges 9:42–44).

Even that level of slaughter is not enough for Abimelech. Nor is his goal to force the survivors to serve him or be exiled from their home. Instead, once the field workers are dead, he takes his forces into the city and wreaks havoc. During a day of fierce fighting, he soon captures the city. No prisoners are taken: Abimelech and his men simply murder everyone. They tear down all the buildings in the lower part of the city, leaving the upper area around the temple for later.

In a final act of spite and symbolism, Abimelech "sows" the city with salt. Contaminating fields with massive quantities of salt was a tactic used in ancient times. This was meant to ruin the land's ability to support crops. Eventually, the salted soil would recover, but not before bringing ruin to anyone depending on it for food. Salt was also used as a symbol of agreements and covenants. Scattering salt in and around Shechem may have been a symbolic act to declare that this city would never rise again. Whatever Abimelech does is effective: the city will be empty and barren for almost two hundred years, rebuilt during the time of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:25).

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, at least one temple remains standing. This is perhaps attached to the defensive tower of Shechem. This will not last long, either (Judges 9:46–49).