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Judges 9:30–41

When Zebul, the ruler of the city, heard the words of Gaal the son of Ebed, his anger was aroused. And he sent messengers to Abimelech secretly, saying, “Take note! Gaal the son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem; and here they are, fortifying the city against you. Now therefore, get up by night, you and the people who are with you, and lie in wait in the field. And it shall be, as soon as the sun is up in the morning, that you shall rise early and rush upon the city; and when he and the people who are with him come out against you, you may then do to them as you find opportunity.”

So Abimelech and all the people who were with him rose by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. When Gaal the son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance to the city gate, Abimelech and the people who were with him rose from lying in wait. And when Gaal saw the people, he said to Zebul, “Look, people are coming down from the tops of the mountains!”

But Zebul said to him, “You see the shadows of the mountains as if they were men.”

So Gaal spoke again and said, “See, people are coming down from the center of the land, and another company is coming from the Diviners’ Terebinth Tree.”

Then Zebul said to him, “Where indeed is your mouth now, with which you said, ‘Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the people whom you despised? Go out, if you will, and fight with them now.”

So Gaal went out, leading the men of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. And Abimelech chased him, and he fled from him; and many fell wounded, to the very entrance of the gate. Then Abimelech dwelt at Arumah, and Zebul drove out Gaal and his brothers, so that they would not dwell in Shechem.

Abimelech wins round one of what has now become a classic civil war. It’s a battle for the throne except that there’s no throne. Wow.

As long as we’re on the subject of people being amazingly stupid, let’s note Gaal’s actions. He makes a speech in Shechem busting on Abimelech and his officer Zebul, the ruler of the city. Zebul hears about it—no surprise there—and is none too happy. So he lays a trap.

But just a few verses later, we see Gaal and Zabul chit-chatting about what they see in the hills outside the city. Moreover, Zabul ridicules him by quoting what Gaal said in his speech—“Who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?” Zabul is revealing that he knows what Gaal said.

But Gaal’s very next sentence (in verse 28) was, “Is he not the son of Jerubbaal, and is not Zebul his officer?” Zabul has to know that part too. So, it hits Gaal that he’s standing next to a man he has offended.

Yet when challenged to go out and fight a battle he cannot win, he takes the bait. What was he thinking?

This isn’t about thinking; it’s about pride. Zabul’s challenge is essentially a dare. People often respond stupidly to a dare (by accepting it). That has to be pride; the person making the dare is no friend.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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