JOTHAM

JOTHAM (Heb. יוֹתָם; "YHWH is perfect"), the youngest son of gideon the judge. Jotham was the only one to survive the massacre conceived by his half brother abimelech , whose hired assassins slew 70 of the 71 sons of Gideon (Jerubbaal) "on one stone" (Judg. 9:1–6). Jotham alone survived. Perhaps the writer is punning on his name in that in Hebrew yatom means orphan. He escaped to Mt. Gerizim above the city of Shechem and, with sparkling irony, denounced the Shechemites for accepting Abimelech as king. Jotham relates the fable of the trees (Judg. 9:8–15) which tells how the trees once anointed one of their number king. The good trees – the olive, fig, and vine – to whom the crown was offered, refused to trade their unique capacities for honoring both God and man in return for mere power, but the fruitless bramble accepted the throne. From the subsequent verses (16–20) it is clear that the trees represent the rulers of Shechem, while Abimelech, whom they had crowned, is the bramble. The oration concludes with a curse upon both the Shechemites and Abimelech. Jotham's fable has frequently been interpreted as a piece of anti-monarchical irony exposing the unproductive and ultimately disastrous nature of kingship. However, the fable does not denounce the institution as such nor are its details in consonance with the historical reality. Unlike the trees, the Shechemites had not taken the initiative, nor had they offered the crown to anyone; Gideon's sons had inherited their position of rulership, and no reference to the murder of the 70 brothers is to be found in the fable. Therefore Jotham's fable is probably an ancient etiology explaining how the lowly, useless thornbush became an incendiary danger to all trees, even to the mighty cedars. The trees, in their folly, gave the bramble power because the good trees had evaded their duty. But in the mouth of Jotham, the fable becomes a parable warning of the fatal danger of placing royal power in the wrong hands (Kaufmann, p. 202 in bibl.). After he delivered his oration, Jotham fled to Beer (Judg. 9:21) and is not heard of again. The subsequent downfall of Abimelech is seen as the fulfillment of the curse (9:57). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bright, Hist, 151–60; E.H. Maly, in: CBQ, 22 (1960), 299–305; Y. Kaufmann, Sefer Shofetim (1962), 199–206. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Amit, Judges (1999), 165–70. (Nahum M. Sarna and Robert G. Boling)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • JOTHAM — (Heb. יוֹתָם; YHWH is perfect ; c. 758–743 B.C.E.), king of Judah; son of uzziah (Azariah) and Jerusha, daughter of Zadok (II Kings 15:32–33; II Chron. 27:1). Jotham became king at the age of 25 and, according to II Kings 15:33, reigned 16 years …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Jotham — ( God is perfect ; also Yotam Hebrew: יותם) is the name of two people of the Hebrew Bible:1. The youngest of Gideon s seventy sons. He escaped when the rest were put to death by the order of Abimelech (Judges 9:5). When the citizens of Shechem… …   Wikipedia

  • Jotham — Jotham, Sohn des Königs Usias von Juda, wurde, während sein Vater aussätzig war, Reichsverweser in Juda u. folgte demselben 757 als König; er st. 741 vor Beendigung des Kriegs mit Israel u. Syrien; sein Nachfolger war sein ihn unähnlicher Sohn… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Jotham — Jotham, 1) Sohn des Richters Gideon, entging nach Richt. 9 dem Blutbade, das sein Halbbruder Abimelech den übrigen Gideonssöhnen bereitet hatte. Er trat dem Brudermörder, den man in Sichem zum Könige gewählt hatte, in einer am Berge Gerisim… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Jotham — Jotham, König des Reichs Juda 740 735 v. Chr., führte schon unter seinem aussätzigen Vater Usia die Regentschaft; unter ihm trat der Prophet Jesaias auf …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Jotham —    Jehovah is perfect.    1) The youngest of Gideon s seventy sons. He escaped when the rest were put to death by the order of Abimelech (Judg. 9:5). When the citizens of Shechem and the whole house of Millo were gathered together by the plain of …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Jotham — This most interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a variant form of the patronymic Judson or Jutson. The male given names Jud(d) or Jut(t) are themselves pet forms of the very popular medieval name Jordan, from …   Surnames reference

  • Jotham —    1) (fl. c. 12th cent BCE)    Israelite, youngest son of Gideon. He was the sole survivor of Abimelech s massacre in which all his brothers died (Judges 9). He escaped to Mount Gerizim where he denounced the Shechemites for accepting Abimelech… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Jotham — Jọtham   [hebräisch eigentlich »Jahwe ist vollkommen«], biblische Gestalt aus der Richterzeit Israels; nach Buch der Richter 9,5 der jüngste Sohn Gideons; die ihm zugeschriebene Fabel (Buch der Richter 9, 7 15) warnt vor der Einführung des… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Jotham — 1) The youngest son of Jerubbaal (Gideon) who protested when the men of Shechem chose Abimelech to be their ruler (Judg. 9:7–21). 2) Son of Uzziah of Judah, king 750–734 BCE and therefore a contemporary of Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah [[➝  …   Dictionary of the Bible

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