“And Ga’al, the son of Eber, said, ‘Who is Abimelek? And who is Shekem that we should serve him? Is he not a son of Jeruba’al and Zebul his superintendent? Serve the men of Hamor the father of Shekem, but on what account should we serve him? If only this people were put in my hand, I would push aside Abimelek and say to Abimelek, ‘Raise up your army and come out.’’”
And so, out of the drunken revelries comes the challenge. Ga’al wishes to depose Abimelek. At least we can say one positive thing about this Ga’al…the “dispicable son of a slave”… and that is he is honest and straightforward about his goals, no matter how nefarious those goals happen to be. And, not only does he choose to rise up against Abimelek, but he seeks the traitorous people of Shekem to be his aides. They deposed a rightful ruler, why not use them to depose an illegitimate ruler? If one is willing to betray once, what will stop them from betraying again? The cycle continues.
The difference between the first coup and this one is that this time there will be no subterfuge, Ga’al is calling Abimelek out, along with his armies, for battle. And a battle will follow — the trees and the brambles have begun to burn, as Jotham had spoken. As Solomon will write many years later, wicked men lie in wait for their own blood (Proverbs 1:18) — in other words, their evil will come back upon them.
Solomon’s proverb and the reminder of the Shekemites is no less true today. God’s people are called to walk in the light, to act with godly motives, and not to ambush others along the road. Yet, how often there are wolves in sheeps clothing that only look for opportunities to betray and harm those around them. God will indeed bring vengeance on the wicked, thus we need not fear such men (or women). At the same time, we must examine our hearts and motives as well, lest we fall into that same trap.