What does Judges 9:41 mean?
ESV: And Abimelech lived at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives, so that they could not dwell at Shechem.
NIV: Then Abimelek stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his clan out of Shechem.
NASB: Then Abimelech stayed in Arumah, but Zebul drove out Gaal and his relatives so that they could not stay in Shechem.
CSB: Abimelech stayed in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers from Shechem.
NLT: Abimelech returned to Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem.
KJV: And Abimelech dwelt at Arumah: and Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brethren, that they should not dwell in Shechem.
NKJV: Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they would not dwell in Shechem.
Verse Commentary:
Perhaps the conflict between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem caused him to move his headquarters outside the city (Judges 9:22–25). It's also possible his absence from Shechem may have aggravated their disapproval. In either case, it is clear Abimelech and his men are not living in Shechem currently. After routing the rebellion of the city's leaders and Gaal (Judges 9:26–29; 39–40) Abimelech returns to nearby Arumah for the night.

Zebul, Abimelech's officer in Shechem, does not allow Gaal and his relatives to return to the city after being chased off by Abimelech. He drives them all out of town for good. Their initial arrival in Shechem might have been a return to their old hometown. Regardless, Zebul doesn't want them in his city any longer. As it happens, that might have worked out very well for Gaal and his friends. Very soon, nobody will live in Shechem (Judges 9:45).
Verse Context:
Judges 9:22–57 describes the brutal fulfillment of Jotham's curse against his brother, Abimelech, and the leaders of the city of Shechem. God allows the two sides to be split by an evil spirit. First, Shechem's leaders attempt to kill Abimelech. Then they plot with a man named Gaal to overthrow him. Helped by his officer in the city, Abimelech and his men ambush Gaal and Shechem. They kill all the people and destroy the city. They then move on to the town of Thebez to do the same, but Abimelech is killed. Jotham's prediction of divine vengeance (Judges 9:19–20) comes true.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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).
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