What does this fire … from Abimelek refer to? (Judges 9:20) King James Version Judges 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
Judges 9:4 - 5
ESV - 4 And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him. 5 And he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself.
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Gideon, whom God had appointed judge over Israel in Judges 6 in order to free Israel from its subjugation to the Midianites (which God had allowed to happen as punishment for Israel's idolatry) had seventy sons. After Gideon's death, Israel again reverted to idolatry, and did not show gratitude or kindness to Gideon's sons. Abimlelech (one of Gideon's sons) then sought to seize power by appealing to his mother's relatives, who lived in Shechem (associated with the current city of Nablus on the West Bank of the Jordan River), to support him as the sole successor to Gideon. With that support, Abimelech killed all of Gideon's other sons except for the youngest (Jotham). The people of Shechem and the nearby fortification of Beth-millo (not to be confused with the fortification later built in Jerusalem) then made Abimelech their king. Jotham then rebuked the citizens of Shechem for having done this, and told them (in the passage cited in the question) that, because they had not dealt fairly with Gideon's sons, then Abimlelech, as well as the citizens of Shechem and Beth-millo, would some day be destroyed. Three years later, Abimelech himself fulfilled part of this prophecy by destroying Shechem and Beth-Millo by fire in the process of quelling a revolt against his rule (Judges 9:22-49). After that (and in further fulfillment of the prophecy), when Abimelech attempted to conquer the city of Thebez (which had a strong, fortified tower within it), a woman standing on the roof of the tower threw a millstone down upon Abimelech, which crushed his skull (Judges 9:50-57).
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