After Gideon had helped deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Midianites they requested that he rule over them,but he declined.

Judges 8:22 NASB

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you

But years later they made the same request to Abimelech the son of Gideon who agreed to lead them

Judges 9:6 NASB

6 All the men of Shechem and all [e]Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the [f]oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.

He went on to rule over them for three years

Judges 9:22 NASB

22 Now Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. 23 Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,

Could Abimelech be regarded as the first king of Israel?


4 Answers 4


It is only the men of Shechem and the house of Millo which the text mentions. It is not even a complete tribe. So, therefore, significant though the use of the word 'king' is, the last words in Judges still stand :

In those days there was no king in Israel.

  • 2
    Well done - suitably succinct. +1
    – user25930
    May 16, 2019 at 11:40

Abilimek becomes King in Judges 9:4 rules over Isreal 3 years (9:22) and dies in Judges 9:54.

By the time we get to Judges 21 many years have passed and there is no King in Isreal in those days.

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    Mar 2, 2021 at 19:31
  • This is an intriguing question that you have given a very short answer to. If, however, you could extract some quotes from the text to lead readers through a sequence of events, or even refer to some Bible commentaries that throw further light on this, your answer would be improved.
    – Anne
    Mar 5, 2021 at 17:16

Judges 9:22 When Abimelech had reigned three years over Israel,

Can't be clearer than this.

  • 2
    I agree that's pretty clear. But how do you account for Judges 21:25 as mentioned in Nigel J's answer? Mar 2, 2020 at 0:50

Abimelech may not have been a consensus king of Israel as Saul was later on, but Holy Scripture does state in Judges 9:4-22, that he was king of ISRAEL and names so by Israelites (even-tough a small amount of them). He reigned 3 years as well. He reigned as something , to some people. But as for being the King of the entire nation of Israel, I don’t think that’s what this was. He was a regional leader, a rebel, who obviously didn’t win over the hearts of Israel as a whole.

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