Gideon’s Sons

Jotham giving parable

Bible Reference: Judges chapter 9

Heart of the Story: A parable and curse came true because God intervened in the situation.

Back Story: Jotham was the youngest son of the judge Gideon. One of the many positive characteristics of Gideon was that he refused to be king of the Israelites after defeating the Midianites. His words were, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23). Gideon had 70 sons by his wives and one son, Abimelech, by his concubine. Abimelech lived with his mother’s people in Shechem. After Gideon’s death, Abimelech negotiated with the men of Shechem to make him king.

Story Line: Abimelech and a group of paid adventurers murdered Gideon’s legitimate sons with the exception of the youngest son, Jotham. Jotham was heartsick. Not only did his father, the stable person in his life, die; but, his half-brother, Abimelech, murdered every one of his brothers. Although the Bible doesn’t say so, likely Abimelech seized all of Gideon and his brothers’ lands. Jotham, legitimate son of Gideon, was left with nothing. On top of everything else, the men of Shechem and surrounding areas proclaimed Abimelech king. Jotham was outraged by the injustice perpetrated by Abimelech and the people who Gideon fought to free from the rapacious Midianites.

On the day that Abimelech was crowned, Jotham climbed Mount Gerizim and loudly proclaimed a parable to the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo over whom Abimelech was to rule. Jotham began the parable by saying, “One day the trees went out to anoint a king” (Judges 9:8). The trees said to the olive tree, “Be our king.” The olive tree declined as did the fig tree and the vine. Finally, the trees said to the thorn bush, “Come be our king.” The thorn bush responded, “If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, then let fire come out of the thorn bush and consume the cedars of Lebanon” (Judges 9:15).

Jotham didn’t end his indictment with his insightful parable; he included a curse. Jotham’s curse was that if the people acted honorably toward Gideon who fought for them and rescued them from the Midianites, then Jotham wished them joy in their new king. However, if they didn’t act honorably, then let fire come out of Abimelech and consume the citizens of Shechem and Beth Millo and let fire come out of the towns and consume Abimelech.

Pondering Relationships: After giving this parable and curse from Mount Gerizim, Jotham fled south to Beersheba. Jotham made his home there because he feared Abimelech. Abimelech was king for three years. Then, God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. The result was that Abimelech destroyed Shechem, setting fire to the tower of Shechem and burning the people inside. Next, Abimelech attack the town of Thebez. While attempting to capture the tower, a woman dropped a millstone on Abimelech’s head cracking his skull. When Abimelech’s men saw that he was dead, they went home. The story concluded with: God repaid Abimelech for killing his brothers and made the men of Shechem pay for their wickedness.

Reflection: Do you believe you reap what you sow?

For more Bible stories about Lesser Known Bible Characters, go to my ministry website Carolyn Roth Ministry (  In the store, you can purchase a book totally dedicated to insights from lesser known Bible characters.

Copyright September 19, 2015: Carolyn A. Roth



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