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Judges 9:55

ESV And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home.
NIV When the Israelites saw that Abimelek was dead, they went home.
NASB Now when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, each left for his home.
CSB When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
NLT When Abimelech’s men saw that he was dead, they disbanded and returned to their homes.
KJV And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place.

What does Judges 9:55 mean?

The writer of Judges adds a surprising detail in this verse. Abimelech is dead: his skull crushed by a millstone thrown from a tower and finished off by his own armor-bearer (Judges 9:50–54). The reign of this murderous, power-crazed son of Gideon and a concubine has ended (Judges 8:31; 9:1–6). With nobody left to take orders from or fight for, Abimelech's followers leave the people of Thebez alone and return to their homes.

Here, it is revealed that Abimelech's men were Israelites. Shechem was a largely Canaanite city, and the leaders of Shechem who put Abimelech in place were likely Canaanites. The city was a center of worship to the Canaanite god El-berith, also perhaps known as Baal-berith (Judges 8:33; 9:4). To this point, a reader might naturally assume Abimelech's men were also largely Canaanites.

Instead, we see that Abimelech had earned the following of Israelite men. That's not entirely surprising; he was a son of Gideon. He had also come to Thebez as an act of war against Israel's traditional enemies. Those Israelites who longed for a king to rule over them may have seen Abimelech as their best chance to accomplish that. Yet God had no intention of allowing Israel to have a king just yet (Judges 8:22–23). The Lord also fulfilled Jotham's curse against Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem (Judges 9:8–20). Abimelech's reign was doomed from the start, no matter who followed him.
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