Jotham’s Flight

“And Jotham fled. And he fled and went to Be’erah, dwelling there from the face of his brother Abimelek.”

(Judges 9:21)

The point of the first part of the verse? Jotham ran and ran hard to get away from his brother. There are actually two verbs used in this first clause, simply to emphasize this reality. With the pronouncement of this curse, there is nothing left for Jotham here. Interestingly, beyond a mention of Jotham’s curse at the end of this chapter, this is the last we hear of Jotham as well. Not only is Jotham fleeing for his life, but he understands as well that it is not God’s plan to have a king over the people at this point in history, thus, at Abimelek’s death, we do not see Jotham re-emerging to take power, a reminder that this is not a squabble over power, but a pronouncement of what God declares to be right.

One of the challenges in life is discerning when it is time to stand and fight for what is right and when it is time to run and hide. We see this again in the life of David, for instance, but we also see it at many times in church history. During the Reformation, for example, under Roman Catholic persecution, some of the pastors remained in their places only to be arrested and brutally executed for their faith while others fled to safer parts of Europe, like Geneva. It seems that there is no hard and fast answer to give to a question such as this. There are times when God will work mightily through our martyrdom, yet there are times when God will use our flight to preserve a remnant for his glory. Prayer and discernment must be applied and if one flees, one must have a clear understanding that they are not fleeing out of fear but because God has a different plan for them. It is my conviction that the Holy Spirit will guide such questions as well as using mature believers in the body of Christ to aid in our discernment.

In this case, Jotham has completed his job and has fled to Be’erah (or Beer, in some of our translations). In this case, his flight leads him south toward the Negev and the Wilderness of Sin (a place where David would sojourn). He becomes a kind of hermit, staying hidden from the public eye until his death sometime later. And so, we hear from him no more, only his curse remains.

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