“When Gaal son of Ebed moved into Shechem with his kinsfolk, the lords of Shechem put confidence in him. They went out into the field. They gathered the grapes from their vineyards and trod them. Then they celebrated. Thus they went into the temple of their god, ate and drank, and ridiculed Abimelech. Gaal son of Ebed said. ‘Who is Abimelech? Who are we of Shechem that we should serve him? Did not the son of Jerubbaal and Zebul his officer serve the men of Hamor, the father of Shechem? Why then should we serve him? If only this people were under my command! Then I would remove Abimelech. I would say to him. ‘Increase your army, and come out.’”
Abimelech seems to rule over the Canaanites in Shechem also. Gaal was from somewhere else but he may have been a distant descendent of Hamor, who may have founded Shechem, since he is mentioned with Jacob in Genesis, chapter 34. The only thing we know about Ebed is that his son was Gaal. Apparently Zebul who served under Gideon was the governor or mayor of Shechem under the rule of Abimelech. Gaal wanted to be in charge.
“When Zebul the ruler of the city heard the words of Gaal son of Ebed, his anger was kindled. He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah. ‘Look, Gaal son of Ebed and his kinsfolk have come to Shechem. They are stirring up the city against you. Now therefore, go by night, you and the troops that are with you, and lie in wait in the fields. Then early in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, get up and rush on the city. When he and the troops that are with him come out against you, you may deal with them as best you can.’”
Zebul was loyal to Abimelech. Arumah must have been within five to ten miles away from Shechem. Zebul wants Abimelech to sneak up at night and attack them in the morning.
“So Abimelech and all the troops with him got up by night, and lay in wait against Shechem in four companies. When Gaal son of Ebed went out and stood in the entrance of the gate of the city, Abimelech and the troops with him rose from the ambush. When Gaal saw them, he said to Zebul. ‘Look, people are coming down from the mountain tops!’ Zebul said to him. ‘The shadows on the mountains look like people to you.’ Gaal spoke again and said. ‘Look, people are coming down from Tabbur-erez, and one company is coming from the direction of Elon-meonenim.’ Then Zebul said to him. ‘Where is your boast now, you who said, ‘who is Abimelech, that we should serve him?’ Are not these the troops you made light of? Go out now and fight with them.’ So Gaal went out at the head of the lords of Shechem, and fought with Abimelech. Abimelech chased him. Gaal fled before him. Many fell wounded, up to the entrance of the gate. So Abimelech resided at Arumah. Zebul drove out Gaal and his kinsfolk, so that they could not live on at Shechem.”
Abimelech attacked Shechem, while Zebul asked Gaal about his many boasts. Gaal saw all the troops coming from different directions. Abimelech and Zebul then drove Gaal and his kinsfolk out of Shechem.