“But there was a fortified tower within the city and all the men and women and all the masters of the city fled there and they shut themselves into it. And they went up to the roof of the tower. And Abimelek approached the tower and fought against it and he went up to the door to burn it with fire. And there was this woman who threw an upper-millstone on the head of Abimelek and crushed his skull.”
Remember, here we have a somewhat different context than we had in Shekem. In Shekem, the people fled to the vault that was located under the temple they had there. Here, they flee to the fortified tower in the center of the city. And here is a mark once again of God’s ironic justice. In Shekem the trees were being brought down by the fire from the bramble (see Judges 9:20). The strength of the trees is found in its roots, so when the roots are destroyed deep underground, the trees will perish. But now it is time for fire to come from the trees to destroy the bramble and thus they are high up in a fortified (probably stone) tower and the destruction (as we will see) comes from above.
The suggestion that the tower is of stone comes from the fact that it is fortified (stone being the obvious choice) and because Abimelek is bringing fire to the door of the tower and not trying to light the whole tower on fire. His plan is to tear down the door with fire and then continue the battle within the tower. Obviously, in God’s design, that does not yet take place.
So, the people of the city (not just the leaders as had taken place in Shekem) fled into the tower to the upper levels with the leadership on top, presumably to drop things on heads and to shoot bows. At least one of the women had an idea and she (and arguably perhaps a few others), dropped the millstone from where they were down, striking the skull of Abimelek and crushing his skill (literally, the Hebrew says it was smashed into pieces — could this be what Jesus had in mind when he spoke about those who lead those who believe in Him away? (Matthew 18:6). Perhaps.). As with Sisera, Abimelek was struck down by a woman…in this case, a nameless one. So, who gets the glory? God.
And so, the bramble is destroyed. Abimelek is dead. Such is the fate of those who would rise up against the name of God and his anointed ones. No, it may not happen right away — God is patient with the sins of men, but his justice will be exercised in one fashion or another…in His time. Beware. Repent and believe while it is still day.