Jotham in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

jo'-tham (yotham, "Yahweh is perfect"; Ioatham): (1) The youngest son of Gideon-Jerubbaal, the sole survivor of the massacre of his seventy brothers by Abimelech (Jdg 9:5), and (by Jdg 8:22) the legitimate ruler of Shechem after their death. Recognizing, however, that he is powerless to assert his claim, Jotham delivers from the summit of Gerizim his famous fable (Jdg 9:7-15), applies it to the situation in hand, and then flees for his life to Beer (Jdg 9:21). Nothing more is told of him, but the downfall of Abimelech is referred in part to his "curse" (Jdg 9:57). The fable tells of the kingship of the trees which, after having been declined by all useful plants, was finally offered to the bramble. The latter, inflated by its unexpected dignity, pompously offers its "shade' to its faithful subjects, while threatening all traitors with punishment (brambles carry forest fires), quite in the manner of an oriental monarch on assuming the throne. Having thus parodied the relationship of the worthless Abimelech to the Shechemites, Jotham ironically wishes both parties joy of their bargain, which will end in destruction for all concerned. Otherwise the connection between the fable and its application is loose, for, while the fable depicts the kingship as refused by all properly qualified persons, in the application the Shechemites are upbraided for their treachery and their murder of the rightful heirs. In fact, the fable taken by itself would seem rather to be a protest against kings as a class (compare 1 Sam 8:10-18; 12:19, etc.); so it is possible that either the fable or its application has become expanded in transmission. Or an older fable may have been used for the sake of a single salient point, for nothing is more common than such an imperfect reapplication of fables, allegories and parables...

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