Thursday, July 16, 2015

Influences from Book of Judges, Abimelech

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Salting the Earth

The Book of Judges (9:45) says that Abimelech, the judge of the Israelites, sowed his own capital, Shechem, with salt, c. 1050 BC, after quelling a revolt against him. This may have been part of a ḥērem ritual[2] (compare with "salt in the Bible").

Starting in the 19th century,[7] various texts claim that the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus plowed over and sowed the city of Carthage with salt after defeating it in the Third Punic War (146 BC), sacking it, and forcing the survivors into slavery. However, no ancient sources exist documenting the salting itself. The Carthage story is a later invention, probably modeled on the story of Shechem.[8] The ritual of symbolically drawing a plow over the site of a city is, however, mentioned in ancient sources, though not in reference to Carthage specifically.[9]


Killed by a Stone

Compare Judges 9:

50 Next Abimelech went to Thebez and besieged it and captured it. 51 Inside the city, however, was a strong tower, to which all the men and women—all the people of the city—had fled. They had locked themselves in and climbed up on the tower roof. 52 Abimelech went to the tower and attacked it. But as he approached the entrance to the tower to set it on fire, 53 a woman dropped an upper millstone on his head and cracked his skull.

The death of Pyrrhus by a tile flung down by a woman as he rode into the town of Argos is an historic parallel (Pausan. 1:13). The ringleader of an attack on the Jews, who had taken refuge in York Castle in 1190, was similarly killed.

And v. 54:  
Hurriedly [Abimelech] called to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’” So his servant ran him through, and he died. ....
Whether [Pyrrhus] was alive or not after the blow is dubious, but his death was assured when a Macedonian soldier named Zopyrus, though frightened by the look on the face of the unconscious king, hesitantly and ineptly beheaded his motionless body.

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