What does Judges 9:12 mean?
ESV: And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’
NIV: Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come and be our king.'
NASB: Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You, come, reign over us!’
CSB: Later, the trees said to the grapevine, "Come and reign over us."
NLT: 'Then they said to the grapevine, ‘You be our king!’
KJV: Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou, and reign over us.
This is part of a fable told by Jotham, the only survivor of his brother's murderous ambition (Judges 9:1–5). He is shouting this parable from a mountainside, over Abimelech's coronation in the city of Shechem, below (Judges 9:6–11).
So far, in the story, the trees have failed to find a king of their own. They have been turned down by both the olive tree and the fig tree. Both indicated that their current work was more rewarding and more valuable than being a ruler of other trees. Neither were driven to seek power over others. Now the trees turn to the grape vine. As were olives and figs, grapes were a central product of ancient near eastern agriculture.
As they did with the others, the trees ask the grape vine to become their king; the vine will also refuse (Judges 9:13).
Judges 9:6–21 contains a parable and prophecy spoken by the sole surviving son of Gideon. Jotham was the only one missed in a massacre orchestrated by his half-brother, Abimelech (Judges 9:1–6). During the coronation ceremony making Abimelech a local ruler, Jotham shouts out a curse against Abimelech and Shechem's leaders. This takes the form of a fable about trees making a bramble bush their king. The prediction intended by Jotham's declaration is that Shechem's leaders did not act in integrity, so they and Abimelech will destroy each other. Jotham then flees the area.
Shechem's leaders conspire with a concubine's son to kill Gideon's other seventy sons. They make this man, Abimelech, their ruler. Gideon's youngest son survives, however, and delivers a curse. Using a fable, he says Abimelech and Shechem's leaders will destroy each other. God causes a division between Shechem's leaders and Abimelech. The noblemen attempt to kill Abimelech and unite behind a new leader. Abimelech discovers the plot and kills everyone in Shechem, destroying the city. When attacking a tower in a nearby town, however, Abimelech's skull is crushed by a thrown millstone. The curse is fulfilled.
Gideon successfully defeated Midianite raiders but declined to become Israel's official king. His sons, however, were held in high esteem during his remaining years (Judges 8). After Gideon's death, ambitious men conspire to kill almost all those heirs. This results in a series of bloody events. Eventually, judgment comes on those responsible. Israel fails to learn from the tragedies. Chapter 10 explains further idolatry and sin, before introducing the next major judge, Jephthah, in chapter 11.
The Book of Judges describes Israel's history from the death of Joshua to shortly before Israel's first king, Saul. Israel fails to complete God's command to purge the wicked Canaanites from the land (Deuteronomy 7:1–5; 9:4). This results in a centuries-long cycle where Israel falls into sin and is oppressed by local enemies. After each oppression, God sends a civil-military leader, labeled using a Hebrew word loosely translated into English as "judge." These appointed rescuers would free Israel from enemy control and govern for a certain time. After each judge's death, the cycle of sin and oppression begins again. This continues until the people of Israel choose a king, during the ministry of the prophet-and-judge Samuel (1 Samuel 1—7).
Accessed 12/6/2023 10:54:47 PM
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