What does Judges 9:47 mean?
ESV: Abimelech was told that all the leaders of the Tower of Shechem were gathered together.
NIV: When Abimelek heard that they had assembled there,
NASB: And it was reported to Abimelech that all the leaders of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
CSB: Then it was reported to Abimelech that all the citizens of the Tower of Shechem had gathered.
NLT: Someone reported to Abimelech that the citizens had gathered in the temple,
KJV: And it was told Abimelech, that all the men of the tower of Shechem were gathered together.
Verse Commentary:
In bloody revenge, Abimelech is destroying the city and people of Shechem. The city leaders had turned against him and plotted to overthrow him (Judges 9:22–25). Abimelech defeated those leaders in battle (Judges 9:38–41). Not content to leave it at that, Abimelech has declared total war. In English, his tactics are sometimes called "scorched-earth," meaning the goal is to obliterate people, buildings, and agriculture alike. Abimelech and his men destroyed everything and everyone except for the defensive tower and the temple to El-berith (Judges 9:42–46). The leaders of the tower have locked themselves into the temple, a structure that had stood for hundreds of years.

These last leaders of Shechem have taken refuge in the "stronghold" of the temple, along with the rest of the survivors. This likely means some kind of underground cave or room that could be secured against an attacker. About a thousand people, are in this stronghold, but Abimelech has a plan to finish them all (Judges 9:48–49).
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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