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The Power-Grabbing Judge

Submitted by on Wednesday, 17 August 2011No Comment

abimelech-slays-his-brothers

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Judges 9:6-15
  • Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 21
  • Gospel Reading:  Matthew 20:1-16

Jotham’s Denunciation of the Abimelech-Affair

Today’s selection is from the parable of Jotham the youngest of the seventy sons of Gideon, the only one who excaped the massacre perpetrated by Abimelech, Gideon’s son from a Shechemite concubine.

Abimelech was a power-grabber. He turns the people of Shechem against the house of Gideon and convinces them to crown him king right where Joshua had before put up a mazzebah to record the covenant renewal. Gideon had refused to be king declaring that it is the Lord who is King of Israel. By making himself king, Abimelech somehow anticipates what the Israelites will do during the time of Samuel: to have a king so that they can be like the other nations around them.

abimelech3

The full story of Abimelech can be outlined as follows:

  • Abimelech grabs power (9:1-6)
  • The prophetic parable of Jotham (9:7-21)
  • The Revolt against Abimelech
    • The men of Shechem turn against Abimelech (9:22-25)
    • Gaal’s rebellion (9:26-29)
    • Zebul informs Abimelech, the subsequent war and the defeat of Gaal (9:30-41) li>the destruction of Shechem (9:42-49)
  • the death of Abimelech
    • the assault on Thebez (9:50)
    • a woman drops a millstone on Abimelech (9:51-55)
  • The fulfillment of Jotham’s prophecy (9:56-57)

More on Abimelech

The Parable of the Vineyard Owner

The parable that we read in Matthew 20:1-16 explains the saying about "the last being the first, and the first being the last." It can have the following applications:

  • God calling each one to service at different stages of life (Pope Gregory)
  • Jews and Gentiles with respect to the Kingdom
Judges 9:6-15
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
6And all the men of Sichem were gathered together, and all the families of the city of Mello: and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak that stood in Sichem.
7This being told to Joatham, he went and stood on the top of mount Garizim: and lifting up his voice, he cried, and said: Hear me, ye men of Sichem, so may God hear you.
8The trees went to anoint a king over them: and they said to the olive tree: Reign thou over us.
9And it answered: Can I leave my fatness, which both gods and men make use of, to come to be promoted among the trees?
10And the trees said to the fig tree: Come thou and reign over us.
11And it answered them: Can I leave my sweetness, and my delicious fruits, and go to be promoted among the other trees?
12And the trees said to the vine: Come thou and reign over us.
13And it answered them: Can I forsake my wine, that cheereth God and men, and be promoted among the other trees?
14And all the trees said to the bramble: Come thou and reign over us.
15And it answered them: If indeed you mean to make me king, come ye and rest under my shadow: but if you mean it not, let fire come out from the bramble, and devour the cedars of Libanus.
Matthew 20:1-16
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3And going about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle.
4And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.
5And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.
6But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?
7They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard.
8And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.
9When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny.
11And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,
12Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.
13But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?
14Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.
15Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good?
16So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.
Matthew 20:1-16
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3And going about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle.
4And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just.
5And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner.
6But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle?
7They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard.
8And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first.
9When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny.
11And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house,
12Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats.
13But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny?
14Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee.
15Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good?
16So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.

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