Judges 9:46 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 9:46, NIV: On hearing this, the citizens in the tower of Shechem went into the stronghold of the temple of El-Berith.

Judges 9:46, ESV: When all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem heard of it, they entered the stronghold of the house of El-berith.

Judges 9:46, KJV: And when all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that, they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.

Judges 9:46, NASB: When all the leaders of the tower of Shechem heard about it, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith.

Judges 9:46, NLT: When the leading citizens who lived in the tower of Shechem heard what had happened, they ran and hid in the temple of Baal-berith.

Judges 9:46, CSB: When all the citizens of the Tower of Shechem heard, they entered the inner chamber of the temple of El-berith.

What does Judges 9:46 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abimelech is systematically destroying the city of Shechem and its people. The leaders of the city, the ones who put him in office as king (Judges 9:1–6), rebelled against him (Judges 9:22–25). They aligned themselves with a man named Gaal and planned to remove Abimelech from the throne by force (Judges 9:26–29).

Instead, at the advice of an officer of the city, Abimelech ambushed Gaal and the city's leaders, chasing them off or eliminating them completely (Judges 9:30–41). The next day, he and his men killed all the citizens who came out to the fields to work (Judges 9:42–44). Then they captured the lower part of the city, killed the people, tore down the buildings, and even salted the ground (Judges 9:45).

All that remains after these atrocities is the upper part of the city. This is the location of the tower of Shechem and a temple to El-berith. Scholars disagree whether El-berith and Baal-berith are different names for the same deity (Judges 8:33; 9:4). It's possible El-berith was a version of the God of Israel, and that both were worshiped at this time even by the people of Israel. The tower and the large temple appear to be a single integrated structure.

Most of the leaders of Shechem have already been disposed of. Those responsible for the tower remain, along with hundreds of other men and women. They know Abimelech has destroyed the rest of the city. They know he is coming for them. So, they enter the temple stronghold to escape Abimelech's wrath.

Archaeologists have uncovered the ruins of what was likely this temple on the acropolis at Shechem. It was roughly square, approximately 100 feet, or 30 meters, on each side. This was an exceptionally large structure in that era. More importantly to those hiding inside, it included some kind of "stronghold," possibly an underground area like a modern-day bunker. The Hebrew word describing this location is also used in connection with "cisterns," meaning underground water stores.

The people hoped Abimelech could not find a way inside. As it happens, he won't need to (Judges 9:47–49).