va-YAY-lekh a-vee-ME-lekh ben y’-ru-BA-al sh’-KHE-mah el a-KHAY i-MO vai-da-BAYR a-lay-HEM v’-el kol mish-PA-khat bayt a-VEE i-MO lay-MOR
א וַיֵּלֶךְ אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בֶּן־יְרֻבַּעַל שְׁכֶמָה אֶל־אֲחֵי אִמּוֹ וַיְדַבֵּר אֲלֵיהֶם וְאֶל־כָּל־מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית־אֲבִי אִמּוֹ לֵאמֹר׃
The city of Shechem appears many times in the Bible. Yaakov purchases part of the city (Genesis 33:18-20) and later gives it as a special gift to his son Yosef (ibid. 49:22-26). Later, when the Children of Israel enter the Land of Israel, they bury Yosef in Shechem. Other important sites in Israel were also acquired via purchase, such as the Temple Mount in Yerushalayim (II Samuel 24) and the cave of Machpelah in Chevron (Genesis 23). The Rabbis explain that because of the public nature of these sales, the entire world must recognize Jewish ownership over these three cities.
2 “Put this question to all the citizens of Shechem: Which is better for you, to be ruled by seventy men—by all the sons of Yerubaal—or to be ruled by one man? And remember, I am your own flesh and blood.”
ב דַּבְּרוּ־נָא בְּאָזְנֵי כָל־בַּעֲלֵי שְׁכֶם מַה־טּוֹב לָכֶם הַמְשֹׁל בָּכֶם שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ כֹּל בְּנֵי יְרֻבַּעַל אִם־מְשֹׁל בָּכֶם אִישׁ אֶחָד וּזְכַרְתֶּם כִּי־עַצְמֵכֶם וּבְשַׂרְכֶם אָנִי׃
ד וַיִּתְּנוּ־לוֹ שִׁבְעִים כֶּסֶף מִבֵּיתּ בַעַל בְּרִית וַיִּשְׂכֹּר בָּהֶם אֲבִימֶלֶךְ אֲנָשִׁים רֵיקִים וּפֹחֲזִים וַיֵּלְכוּ אַחֲרָיו׃
5 Then he went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed his brothers, the sons of Yerubaal, seventy men on one stone. Only Yotam, the youngest son of Yerubaal, survived, because he went into hiding.
ה וַיָּבֹא בֵית־אָבִיו עָפְרָתָה וַיַּהֲרֹג אֶת־אֶחָיו בְּנֵי־יְרֻבַּעַל שִׁבְּעִים אִישׁ עַל־אֶבֶן אֶחָת וַיִּוָּתֵר יוֹתָם בֶּן־יְרֻבַּעַל הַקָּטֹן כִּי נֶחְבָּא׃
8 “Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’
ח הָלוֹךְ הָלְכוּ הָעֵצִים לִמְשֹׁחַ עֲלֵיהֶם מֶלֶךְ וַיֹּאמְרוּ לַזַּיִת מלוכה [מָלְכָה] עָלֵינוּ׃
9 But the olive tree replied, ‘Have I, through whom Hashem and men are honored, stopped yielding my rich oil, that I should go and wave above the trees?’
ט וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַזַּיִת הֶחֳדַלְתִּי אֶת־דִּשְׁנִי אֲשֶׁר־בִּי יְכַבְּדוּ אֱלֹהִים וַאֲנָשִׁים וְהָלַכְתִּי לָנוּעַ עַל־הָעֵצִים׃
10 So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’
י וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָעֵצִים לַתְּאֵנָה לְכִי־אַתְּ מָלְכִי עָלֵינוּ׃
11 But the fig tree replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my sweetness, my delicious fruit, that I should go and wave above the trees?’
יא וַתֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַתְּאֵנָה הֶחֳדַלְתִּי אֶת־מָתְקִי וְאֶת־תְּנוּבָתִי הַטּוֹבָה וְהָלַכְתִּי לָנוּעַ עַל־הָעֵצִים׃
12 So the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’
יב וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָעֵצִים לַגָּפֶן לְכִי־אַתְּ מלוכי [מָלְכִי] עָלֵינוּ׃
13 But the vine replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my new wine, which gladdens Hashem and men, that I should go and wave above the trees?’
יג וַתֹּאמֶר לָהֶם הַגֶּפֶן הֶחֳדַלְתִּי אֶת־תִּירוֹשִׁי הַמְשַׂמֵּחַ אֱלֹהִים וַאֲנָשִׁים וְהָלַכְתִּי לָנוּעַ עַל־הָעֵצִים׃
14 Then all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘You come and reign over us.’
יד וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָל־הָעֵצִים אֶל־הָאָטָד לֵךְ אַתָּה מְלָךְ־עָלֵינוּ׃
15 And the thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you are acting honorably in anointing me king over you, come and take shelter in my shade; but if not, may fire issue from the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’
טו וַיֹּאמֶר הָאָטָד אֶל־הָעֵצִים אִם בֶּאֱמֶת אַתֶּם מֹשְׁחִים אֹתִי לְמֶלֶךְ עֲלֵיכֶם בֹּאוּ חֲסוּ בְצִלִּי וְאִם־אַיִן תֵּצֵא אֵשׁ מִן־הָאָטָד וְתֹאכַל אֶת־אַרְזֵי הַלְּבָנוֹן׃
16 “Now then, if you acted honorably and loyally in making Avimelech king, if you have done right by Yerubaal and his house and have requited him according to his deserts
17 considering that my father fought for you and saved you from the Midianites at the risk of his life,
יז אֲשֶׁר־נִלְחַם אָבִי עֲלֵיכֶם וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת־נַפְשׁוֹ מִנֶּגֶד וַיַּצֵּל אֶתְכֶם מִיַּד מִדְיָן׃
18 and now you have turned on my father’s household, killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and set up Avimelech, the son of his handmaid, as king over the citizens of Shechem just because he is your kinsman
19 if, I say, you have this day acted honorably and loyally toward Yerubaal and his house, have joy in Avimelech and may he likewise have joy in you.
יט וְאִם־בֶּאֱמֶת וּבְתָמִים עֲשִׂיתֶם עִם־יְרֻבַּעַל וְעִם־בֵּיתוֹ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה שִׂמְחוּ בַּאֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְיִשְׂמַח גַּם־הוּא בָּכֶם׃
24 to the end that the crime committed against the seventy sons of Yerubaal might be avenged, and their blood recoil upon their brother Avimelech, who had slain them, and upon the citizens of Shechem, who had abetted him in the slaying of his brothers.
27 They went out into the fields, gathered and trod out the vintage of their vineyards, and made a festival. They entered the temple of their god, and as they ate and drank they reviled Avimelech.
כז וַיֵּצְאוּ הַשָּׂדֶה וַיִּבְצְרוּ אֶת־כַּרְמֵיהֶם וַיִּדְרְכוּ וַיַּעֲשׂוּ הִלּוּלִים וַיָּבֹאוּ בֵּית אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ וַיְקַלְלוּ אֶת־אֲבִימֶלֶךְ׃
28 Gaal son of Ebed said, “Who is Avimelech and who are [we] Sh’chemites, that we should serve him? This same son of Yerubaal and his lieutenant Zebul once served the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem; so why should we serve him?
30 When Zebul, the governor of the city, heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, he was furious.
ל וַיִּשְׁמַע זְבֻל שַׂר־הָעִיר אֶת־דִּבְרֵי גַּעַל בֶּן־עָבֶד וַיִּחַר אַפּוֹ׃
לא וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל־אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בְּתָרְמָה לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה גַעַל בֶּן־עֶבֶד וְאֶחָיו בָּאִים שְׁכֶמָה וְהִנָּם צָרִים אֶת־הָעִיר עָלֶיךָ׃
32 Therefore, set out at night with the forces you have with you and conceal yourself in the fields.
לב וְעַתָּה קוּם לַיְלָה אַתָּה וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר־אִתָּךְ וֶאֱרֹב בַּשָּׂדֶה׃
33 Early next morning, as the sun rises, advance on the city. He and his men will thereupon come out against you, and you will do to him whatever you find possible.”
לג וְהָיָה בַבֹּקֶר כִּזְרֹחַ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ תַּשְׁכִּים וּפָשַׁטְתָּ עַל־הָעִיר וְהִנֵּה־הוּא וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר־אִתּוֹ יֹצְאִים אֵלֶיךָ וְעָשִׂיתָ לּוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא יָדֶךָ׃
35 When Gaal son of Ebed came out and stood at the entrance to the city gate, Avimelech and the army with him emerged from concealment.
לה וַיֵּצֵא גַּעַל בֶּן־עֶבֶד וַיַּעֲמֹד פֶּתַח שַׁעַר הָעִיר וַיָּקָם אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְהָעָם אֲשֶׁר־אִתּוֹ מִן־הַמַּאְרָב׃
36 Gaal saw the army and said to Zebul, “That’s an army marching down from the hilltops!” But Zebul said to him, “The shadows of the hills look to you like men.”
לו וַיַּרְא־גַּעַל אֶת־הָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־זְבֻל הִנֵּה־עָם יוֹרֵד מֵרָאשֵׁי הֶהָרִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו זְבֻל אֵת צֵל הֶהָרִים אַתָּה רֹאֶה כָּאֲנָשִׁים׃
37 Gaal spoke up again, “Look, an army is marching down from Tabbur-erez, and another column is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim.”
לז וַיֹּסֶף עוֹד גַּעַל לְדַבֵּר וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה־עָם יוֹרְדִים מֵעִם טַבּוּר הָאָרֶץ וְרֹאשׁ־אֶחָד בָּא מִדֶּרֶךְ אֵלוֹן מְעוֹנְנִים׃
38 “Well,” replied Zebul, “where is your boast, ‘Who is Avimelech that we should serve him’? There is the army you sneered at; now go out and fight it!”
לח וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו זְבֻל אַיֵּה אֵפוֹא פִיךָ אֲשֶׁר תֹּאמַר מִי אֲבִימֶלֶךְ כִּי נַעַבְדֶנּוּ הֲלֹא זֶה הָעָם אֲשֶׁר מָאַסְתָּה בּוֹ צֵא־נָא עַתָּה וְהִלָּחֶם בּוֹ׃
40 But he had to flee before him, and Avimelech pursued him, and many fell slain, all the way to the entrance of the gate.
מ וַיִּרְדְּפֵהוּ אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וַיָּנָס מִפָּנָיו וַיִּפְּלוּ חֲלָלִים רַבִּים עַד־פֶּתַח הַשָּׁעַר׃
42 The next day, when people went out into the fields, Avimelech was informed.
מב וַיְהִי מִמָּחֳרָת וַיֵּצֵא הָעָם הַשָּׂדֶה וַיַּגִּדוּ לַאֲבִימֶלֶךְ׃
43 Taking the army, he divided it into three columns and lay in ambush in the fields; and when he saw the people coming out of the city, he pounced upon them and struck them down.
מג וַיִּקַּח אֶת־הָעָם וַיֶּחֱצֵם לִשְׁלֹשָׁה רָאשִׁים וַיֶּאֱרֹב בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה הָעָם יֹצֵא מִן־הָעִיר וַיָּקָם עֲלֵיהֶם וַיַּכֵּם׃
44 While Avimelech and the column that followed him dashed ahead and took up a position at the entrance of the city gate, the other two columns rushed upon all that were in the open and struck them down.
מד וַאֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְהָרָאשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עִמּוֹ פָּשְׁטוּ וַיַּעַמְדוּ פֶּתַח שַׁעַר הָעִיר וּשְׁנֵי הָרָאשִׁים פָּשְׁטוּ עַל־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיַּכּוּם׃
45 Avimelech fought against the city all that day. He captured the city and massacred the people in it; he razed the town and sowed it with salt.
46 When all the citizens of the Tower of Shechem learned of this, they went into the tunnel of the temple of El-berith.
48 Avimelech and all the troops he had with him went up on Mount Zalmon. Taking an ax in his hand, Avimelech lopped off a tree limb and lifted it onto his shoulder. Then he said to the troops that accompanied him, “What you saw me do—quick, do the same!”
49 So each of the troops also lopped off a bough; then they marched behind Avimelech and laid them against the tunnel, and set fire to the tunnel over their heads. Thus all the people of the Tower of Shechem also perished, about a thousand men and women.
51 Within the town was a fortified tower; and all the citizens of the town, men and women, took refuge there. They shut themselves in, and went up on the roof of the tower.
נא וּמִגְדַּל־עֹז הָיָה בְתוֹךְ־הָעִיר וַיָּנֻסוּ שָׁמָּה כָּל־הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְכֹל בַּעֲלֵי הָעִיר וַיִּסְגְּרוּ בַּעֲדָם וַיַּעֲלוּ עַל־גַּג הַמִּגְדָּל׃
52 Avimelech pressed forward to the tower and attacked it. He approached the door of the tower to set it on fire.
נב וַיָּבֹא אֲבִימֶלֶךְ עַד־הַמִּגְדָּל וַיִּלָּחֶם בּוֹ וַיִּגַּשׁ עַד־פֶּתַח הַמִּגְדָּל לְשָׂרְפוֹ בָאֵשׁ׃
53 But a woman dropped an upper millstone on Avimelech‘s head and cracked his skull.
נג וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אִשָּׁה אַחַת פֶּלַח רֶכֶב עַל־רֹאשׁ אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וַתָּרִץ אֶת־גֻּלְגָּלְתּוֹ׃
54 He immediately cried out to his attendant, his arms-bearer, “Draw your dagger and finish me off, that they may not say of me, ‘A woman killed him!’” So his attendant stabbed him, and he died.
נד וַיִּקְרָא מְהֵרָה אֶל־הַנַּעַר נֹשֵׂא כֵלָיו וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ שְׁלֹף חַרְבְּךָ וּמוֹתְתֵנִי פֶּן־יֹאמְרוּ לִי אִשָּׁה הֲרָגָתְהוּ וַיִּדְקְרֵהוּ נַעֲרוֹ וַיָּמֹת׃
56 Thus Hashem repaid Avimelech for the evil he had done to his father by slaying his seventy brothers;
נו וַיָּשֶׁב אֱלֹהִים אֵת רָעַת אֲבִימֶלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְאָבִיו לַהֲרֹג אֶת־שִׁבְעִים אֶחָיו׃