I am amazed that I could complete a course with Dr. Waltke of Regent, and read commentaries that purport to understand the covenantal context of Judges, and none of them mention the significance of Jotham delivering his curses from Mt. Gerizim, the place where the law prescribed for the recitation of blessing. However, such is the significance of this whole narrative of Abimelech and Jotham. The nation, when they rebelled, nevertheless thought that they were entitled to blessing, including power and wealth, and the defeat of their enemies. However, the most significant point in their history was the fact that the LORD renewed his covenant with them, as per recorded in Deuteronomy, and as Moses concluded the fifth book of the Pentateuch, there would be blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience. We cannot confuse this with election, some of the elect also suffered in the nation, for the prevailing sin of the nation as a whole. Here, Abimelech massacre’s the 70 sons of Gideon, because he thought that this would solidify for him power and wealth, he would become Israel’s first king, and this is what the majority wanted.
The people desired a king like all the other nations, and as the LORD would reveal to Samuel, this was a rejection of Samuel the last of the judges, to usher in the reign of Saul. That we have OT professors who claim to understand the background of the law, and Deuteronomy in particular, miss this most important point is sad and pathetic. Today’s professors know less than the average protestant reformed layman. Waltke was disappointed with the biblical illiteracy of his students, but I am surprised at his! He should have treated the reformed heritage as more than a train stop in his chaotic academic journey. I guess refusing to state that the God created everything in the span of six days meant he couldn’t stay there. Shechem, where Joshua renewed the covenant (24), is the place where this conspiracy and rebellion finds root, so it was only fitting that Jotham, the only son of Gideon to survive the massacre, would deliver, as a prophet no less, his curses from Mt. Gerizim, for they had turned to warrior LORD of hosts against themselves. Their blood was now on their own heads.
Three years later, Jotham showed himself to be a true prophet when his predictions concerning Abimelech and the people of Shechem were fulfilled in their destroying each other, for the same selfish and rebellious reasons and motives. Applying the same principle of nepotism, one Gaal had the gall to think that one even closer to the people should be their king. It is interesting that the closer the people came to getting a king, the less area and people he would be a king of. However, Abimelech had an ally in Zebul, a man no one should trust. In any case, those who worshipped Baal berith (meaning ‘covenant’) would suffer the curses of the covenant as Jotham had prophesied. Abimelech thought that he could gain a victory over an otherwise innocent neighbour by repeating the plan to burn down their tower, but again a woman comes to the fore with more brains than him, and not a little bit f cunning and strength, for she kills him with a millstone, despite the actions of his armour bearer. The narrator’s opinion of theis narrative should be clear to all (9:56-57).