Wednesday 19 August 2009

Bible Book:

"So all the trees said to the bramble, 'You come and reign over us.'" (v.14)

Judges 9:6-15 Wednesday 19 August 2009


This verse comes in the middle of 'Jotham's fable', which iswithin an unusual chapter where there are no external enemies, anduntil the very last two verses (56-57) no mention of God. The storyof Abinmelech comes right after that of Gideon who had made noattempt to be called king. Abinmelech on the other hand attempts tofound a monarchy and the story exposes the problems of a monarchywith this fable a powerful critique.

The first six verses describe how Abinmelech became king in a wayentirely opposite to the raising of judges. Abinmelech recruitsBaal (a foreign god) to his cause and with money from Baal's templerecruits a gang who kill all 70 of his half-brothers. They arekilled on one stone just as if they are animals sacrificed at hiscoronation. Only one escapes - Jotham.

Verses 7-15 are a parable told by Jotham to highlight theworthlessness of King Abinmelech. In the parable, the trees arelooking for a king and start by asking the most valuable, mostproductive, most important tree, which in that culture was theolive. Each tree that is asked refuses to become king because whatthey produce is too valuable to be abandoned for kingship.

After the olive, fig and vine have all refused the kingship they goto the bramble (or thornbush in some translations. Some think itwould be buckthorn which is a apparently a constant menace tofarmers in the hills of Israel.)

The bramble offers shade, just as a king ought to offer protectionto his subjects, but then concludes with the threat of destructionby fire (see Exodus22:6 and Isaiah9:18 for references to fire spreading from thornbushes).

In the following verses, Jotham explicitly connects this fable withthe choice of Abinmelech as king. If you are choosing wisely andfor the right reasons (which they are clearly not) then this kingwill protect you, otherwise there will be destruction, just as byfire. By the end of the chapter that destruction has takenplace.

To Ponder

In the past months there has been controversyabout our politicians. How do we select our leaders? Why are theychosen? Does this fable have any relevance to us today?

How do you respond to people who abuse power? Towhat extent is a fable like Jotham's helpful to you in respondingto abuse of power in the community, at work, at home or in theChurch?

Reflect on your relationship with power in yourlife. Are you eager for power, or do you think that what you do ismore valuable?

Previous Page Tuesday 18 August 2009
Next Page Thursday 20 August 2009