What does Judges 9:5 mean?
ESV: And he went to his father 's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.
NIV: He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding.
NASB: Then he went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself.
CSB: He went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on top of a large stone. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerubbaal, survived, because he hid.
NLT: He went to his father’s home at Ophrah, and there, on one stone, they killed all seventy of his half brothers, the sons of Gideon. But the youngest brother, Jotham, escaped and hid.
KJV: And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
NKJV: Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers, the seventy sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, because he hid himself.
Verse Commentary:
In a terrible scene, Abimelech (Judges 8:30–31) goes to the home of his father Gideon in the town of Ophrah. To become undisputed heir to Gideon's authority, Abimelech must eliminate his brothers. He approaches with a gang of hired goons (Judges 9:1–4). With the help of these "worthless and reckless" men, depicted as brutish hooligans, he kills all but one of the seventy sons of Gideon (Judges 8:30).

While the text doesn't mention it, it's easy to imagine Abimelech carried resentment toward his father and his brothers. He was the son of a concubine, not a "full" wife. He likely had no hope of enjoying the status of other sons of a renowned man. To dishonor his father with open brutality, so soon after his death, suggests deep anger toward that side of his family. Gideon's choice to take the Shechemite woman—almost certainly a Canaanite (Deuteronomy 7:3–4)—as his concubine brings destruction to his entire family.

Murdering nearly seventy people is bad enough. Worse, the text says these killings took place "on one stone." This means the brothers were not merely assassinated but rounded up and publicly executed—possibly even in a ritual style. Some commentators speculate the murders were carried out on an altar dedicated to Baal-berith (Judges 8:33), though this would have been unusual. It's also possible Abimelech killed the male children of those sons, as well, to remove their claims to leadership.

Only the youngest brother escapes the carnage, hiding from Abimelech's men. His name is Jotham, but no other details are given. He will live to cast a prophetic shadow over Abimelech's coronation by the people of Shechem (Judges 9:7).
Verse Context:
Judges 9:1–5 describes a plot favoring Abimelech, Gideon's son by a concubine (Judges 8:31). He conspires with leaders of the city of Shechem to slaughter Gideon's other seventy sons. In exchange, Abimelech is made their leader. Only the youngest of Gideon's sons survives the massacre.
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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