Judges, book of the Bible, seventh book of the Old Testament in the order of the Authorized Version. It is the sequel of Joshua in the biblical history, telling of the Hebrews in the Promised Land from Joshua's death up to the time of Samuel. As stated in its introduction, the book is an account of Israel's successive apostasies from God and their consequences—first, punishment at the hands of a foreign nation, then delivery from it by God, who raises up a leader. The leaders are called judges; they are primarily military leaders, the heads of tribes. The chronology of Judges is impossible to untangle, partly because of occasional failure to give the length of time between the judges. The book consists mainly of lengthy accounts of a few judges: Deborah with Barak, Gideon, Gideon's usurping son Abimelech, Jephthah, and Samson. The other judges receive less attention, some a bare mention: Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar before Deborah; Tola and Jair before Jephthah; and Ibzan, Elon and Abdon before Samson. The opening chapter of the book is out of order, for it belongs to the period of Joshua; the closing chapters contain two appended stories of violence, one laid in Dan, the other in Benjamin. For critical views of the composition and for bibliography, see Old Testament.
In the Book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible, Abimelech was a son of the great judge Gideon (); thus his name אֲבִימֶלֶךְ / אֲבִימָלֶךְ can best be interpreted "my father, the king". "Abimelech", a name claiming the inherited right to rule, was also a common name of the Philistine kings. He was, however, merely the son of Gideon's concubine, and to make good his claim to rule over Ephraim, he resorted to force. Aided by his mother's relatives, he put to death all of his half-brothers, seventy in number, "on one stone," at Ophrah, only the youngest, Jotham, escaping. Abimelech ruled just three years in Shechem after the death of his father ().

He was an unprincipled, ambitious ruler, often engaged in war with his own subjects. When engaged in reducing the town of Thebez, which had revolted, he was struck on the head by a mill-stone, thrown by the hand of a woman from the wall above. Realising that the wound was mortal, he ordered his armor-bearer to thrust him through with his sword, so that it might not be said he had perished by the hand of a woman ().

Some scholars have pointed with interest to the similarities between Abimelech's story and that of Labaya in the Amarna letters.

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