Jotham’s brief appearance in the book of Judges proves that words can be more powerful than swords. It’s a story of betrayal and slaughter… and Jotham played the part of an angry messenger.
Jotham (“the Lord is Perfect”) was the youngest son of Jerub-Baal; we know him as Gideon. Gideon was one of the more celebrated judges in Israel’s history, but he had a problem; his many wives had given him 70 legitimate sons, including Jotham. Gideon also had an illegitimate son named Abimelech. The term “sibling rivalry” doesn’t begin to describe what took place after Gideon died.
Jotham was the only son who survived the massacre that Abimelech conducted. Abimelech intended to slaughter all 70 of his half-brothers, and take up Gideon’s mantle of leadership uncontested. Jotham went into hiding… but eventually emerged, angry to hear that the people of Shechem – an important city in Israel – intended to crown Abimelech as their king!
Jotham climbed a mountain and watched the coronation, and then delivered a speech, comparing Abimelech to a thorn bush. Abimelech got the point – thornbushes have not value and choke the life out of the more useful plants – and Abimelech didn’t like it.
Before Jotham turned away to run for his life, he prophesied that Abimelech and the people of Shechem would be one another’s downfall. Just as they had conspired to betray Jotham’s brothers, soon they would turn on each other… and an even greater slaughter would commence. 3 years later, Jotham’s curse came to pass. The people rebelled against Abimelech, who responded with ruthless aggression. Abimelech met his end when a random woman in a besieged tower dropped a millstone down on his head – and Jotham’s family was finally vindicated.
Jotham’s name says it… “the Lord is perfect”.
His story is anything but a happy one… but it serves to remind us that God’s justice is beyond question. Even though it often seems a long-time coming, God’s justice does not – WILL NOT – let wickedness – like the murder of Jotham’s brothers – go unpunished.
You can read Jotham’s story in Judges 9.