Ga’al Routed

“And so Ga’al went out in front of the masters of Shekem and he came to blows with Abimelek. And Abimelek chased him and he fled from him. And many were slain up to the entrance of the gate. Abimelek set camp at Arumah. And Zebul drove out Ga’al and his brothers from dwelling in Shekem.”

(Judges 9:39-41)

Forced to save face, Ga’al and his compatriots charge out of the city to do battle with Abimelek. Ga’al quickly realizes that he is outmatched and turns to flee back to the city with Abimelek in pursuit. Ga’al makes it to the gate, but only at the cost of many of his allies being slain (literally the text reads: “dropping to the ground slain”), trying to make it to the safety of the city gates. Having won the field, Abimelek sets up his headquarters at the nearby Arumah, leaving soldiers still surrounding the city.

Remember, in ancient times as well as in more modern times, the way to capture a city was not solely with brute force, but by laying siege, keeping the people trapped in the city and separated from food, water, and reinforcements. It is a slow, patient process. It seems to be that this is what Abimelek’s strategy against Shekem is designed to be.

With Ga’al humiliated, Zebul takes the initiative to drive him out of the city and this is the last that we hear about the “despicable son of a slave.” Where did he go? We are not sure. Perhaps he fled in the direction of Thebez, explaining why Abimelek moves against that city as well. We simply are not told. In the end, God’s judgment is falling on the wicked…that we are told. Woe to the ones who stand against the Almighty!

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