JUDGES CHAPTER 9
1 Abimelech by conspiracy with the Shechemites, and murder of his brethren, is made king. 7 Jotham by a parable rebuketh them, and foretelleth their ruin. 22 Gaal conspireth with the Shechemites against him. 30 Zebul revealeth it. 34 Abimelech overcometh them, and soweth the city with salt. 46 He burneth the hold of the god Berith. 50 At Thebez he is slain by a piece of a millstone. 56 Jotham’s curse is fulfilled.
1. Shechem. Situated 30 mi. north of Jerusalem in a narrow fertile valley. It probably had been under the jurisdiction of Gideon. At least it was the residence of Gideon’s concubine and her kinsmen. As soon as Gideon was buried, Abimelech went to Shechem to try to induce his relatives, who seem to have been prominent citizens of the town, to help him obtain the same governing authority as his father had exercised.
2. Men of Shechem. The Hebrew word here translated “men” is the plural of lאאב, signifying “possessors,” or “citizens.” The inhabitants were of mixed nationality, some being Israelites, some Canaanites, and some, like Abimelech, perhaps shared the blood of both. They lived side by side, amalgamating to a certain extent, yet sharing a mutual dislike. Verse 28 indicates that the Canaanites were predominant in this particular city.
Whether is better? Abimelech thought this an overwhelming argument. We need not necessarily conclude that all the 70 sons of Gideon were seeking to gain for themselves the ruling authority of their father. Abimelech was stating the case in the worst possible light, playing on the fears and prejudices of the populace.
Your bone. Abimelech seems to be appealing to the Canaanite group of the populace. Even if this were not the case, the Israelites in Shechem were of the tribe of Ephraim, and he well knew of their ambition to be the leading tribe. They had no doubt resented the fact that Gideon, a man of Manasseh, should be the chief man of the whole area. Therefore they would readily grasp at the opportunity to elevate Gideon’s son from Shechem to the office of his father.
4. House of Baal-berith. Anciently the temples served as depositories for personal and civic funds, as the banks do today. In addition, each temple had its own treasury made up of accumulated funds from the payment of vows, penalties, and gifts. Abimelech’s support for his undertaking came from a temple of Baal. What a disgrace that the son of one who had begun his career by showing the futility of Baal worship should launch his career with a gift from Baal’s temple and with it murder all his brethren Such is the end result of polygamy, ambition, and a lack of godliness. There is little affection and much jealousy in polygamous households.
Threescore and ten. This money amounted to a shekel for each brother slain, probably about 21 cents.
Vain and light persons. Literally, “empty [worthless] and reckless men.” Many bloody revolutions have been conducted through hiring such disreputable and reckless followers.
5. Slew his brethren. This was the usual way of usurpers in securing their throne; the person who had no right destroyed all those who had right, so that he might have no competitors. Despots anticipated conspiracies, and so destroyed all their brothers and near kinsmen.
Upon one stone. Like sacrificial beasts (1 Sam. 14:33–35), Abimelech slew his brothers, perhaps on the rock on which Gideon had built his altar.
Jotham. Literally, “the Lord is perfect.” That Gideon would give such a name to his 70th son indicates that he remained a loyal believer in the Lord despite the ephod he had made.
6. House of Millo. Millo was probably a place not far from Shechem. It is not clear whether the word “house” used here means the family or the inhabitants of Millo, or, a building. Here and in v. 20 the phrase seems to be parallel to “the men of Shechem.” Hence it may refer to people of the clan, or family, of Millo. On the other hand, it could very well designate a building. In v. 46 reference is made to “the tower of Shechem” in such a way that it may be the equivalent of “house of Millo.”
Plain. Heb. ’elon. The word means an oak or terebinth tree (see Judges 6:11; Gen. 35:8). This tree in Shechem was probably the same as the one under which Jacob made his family bury the idolatrous earrings and amulets (Gen. 35:4) and under which Joshua raised his stone of witness (Joshua 24:26).
Pillar. This was one of the sacred stones customarily used by Hebrews and Canaanites in their places of worship (Gen. 28:18; Ex. 24:4; Deut. 12:3). Abimelech was proclaimed king at the same place where Joshua had held the last national assembly to renew the covenant of Israel with Jehovah (Joshua 24:1, 25, 26). It was the custom to choose a king at some sanctuary or sacred spot (1 Sam. 11:15).
7. Top of mount Gerizim. Probably not the “top” of the mountain, 900 ft. (274.3 m.) above the town, but more likely somewhere nearer, on the slopes of the mountain. Jotham, the only son of Gideon who had escaped being put to death by Abimelech, learned that the men of Shechem were proclaiming Abimelech king. Taking his life in his hands, he climbed to a projecting rock above the people who were assembled near the oak tree. Having gained the attention of the throng that had just made Abimelech king, Jotham shouted a message to the group. His speech consisted of two parts. The parable contrasts the attitude of Gideon and his sons with the adventurous Abimelech, and predicts that the course of the Shechemites in electing Abimelech king will end in disaster. The speech is one of the masterpieces of literature.
8. Trees went forth. Allegories of this sort in which inanimate things speak and act were loved by the people of antiquity.
To anoint a king. Jotham was well acquainted with the desire of the people to have a king, not only to be like the other nations around them, but because they felt that their frequent sufferings at the hands of their enemies were due to a defect in their form of leadership, whereas their sufferings were due to their apostasy. This demand for a king first expressed itself in the people’s offer to make Gideon king. It continued to grow stronger until this abortive attempt was made. In the days of Saul it became so strong that the prophet Samuel, under instruction from God, finally acquiesced and led out in choosing a king.
Olive tree. In Palestine the olive tree is the most valuable tree known. Extensive groves of such trees still abound in the fertile vale of Shechem. The olive tree, the fig tree, and the vine, which were offered the kingship in succession, represent men who, like Gideon, were interested in the welfare of the community more than in personal advancement.
9. Should I leave? Gideon had refused to leave the legitimate work of judge to assume a position that, although he may have had the capacity for it, God had not called him to fill. His answer was, “The Lord shall rule over you” (ch. 8:23). His assumption of kingship would have been as incongruous as that of a tree leaving its own useful function to become a king of trees.
Honour God. Olive oil was used in connection with sacrifices, offerings, and consecrations in the tabernacle service, as well as an article of diet. Perhaps the word ’elohim used here should be translated “gods,” as it may properly be, for Jotham accommodated the parable to the idolatrous state of the Shechemites (see also v. 13).
10. Fig tree. The other sons of Gideon, or perhaps even some of the former judges. These may have had capabilities and qualities for rulership far in excess of Abimelech’s. It may be that some offer had been made to one or several of them to become king, but they had rejected it.
13. Wine. Heb. tirosh, the juice of the grape, either newly made or fermented.
Cheereth God. Or, “cheereth gods” (see on v. 9), as an accommodation of the parable to the customs familiar to the idolatrous Shechemites. They would be well acquainted with the frequent offerings of wine to heathen deities who were actually supposed to partake of it.
On the other hand, wine was also used in libations in the temple service (Ex. 29:40; Num. 15:7, 10; etc.).
To be promoted. Literally, “to wave.” The action represents a gesture of authority. All three of the trees that yielded most abundant blessings for man, the olive, fig, and vine, consecutively refused the honor of becoming the king of trees. Their reasons were all the same: why leave the function whereby they were rendering a most valuable service to assume a function that they felt was not necessary?
The figure “wave over the trees” is an apt image of popular will—uncertain and affected by every wind. A position gained as a result of popular favor could be maintained only by bending to every breeze, or else, by losing true nobility in the effort to maintain the position by force of arms. Jotham’s words indicate that Gideon also realized the fickle nature of the Israelites. No man of real worth would leave a position of usefulness to assume kingship over a people whose desires and aims shifted as quickly as the wind.
14. Bramble. The buckthorn, a straggling, thorny bush that is common in the hills of Palestine. It represented the antithesis of the valuable trees that had turned down the offer of kingship.
15. In truth. That is, with serious purpose. The bramble, recognizing its inferior worth as compared to the other trees, suspects that the offer is made only as a jest or in mockery.
Put your trust in my shadow. This may also be translated, “take refuse in my shadow.” The foolish bramble in all seriousness offers a preposterous invitation. The low branches afford no shadow, and they are full thorns. This is biting irony. It depicts the absurdity of the situation in which the Shechemites found themselves. Abimelech, Jotham tells the people, can no more provide protection for them than the scraggly bramble bush can provide shadow and protection for the olive and fig trees. It was all promise and no performance.
If not. Not only is the bramble eager to be king, but it utters spiteful and dangerous threats—the counterpart of those intimidations, doubtless, which had been used by Abimelech to discourage any withdrawal of the offers of support the people of Shechem had given him.
Let fire come out. Bramble bushes were evidently the cause of frequent fires inasmuch as they ignited easily and the fire spread rapidly (Ex. 22:6; cf. Ps. 58:9; Isa. 9:18). Although Abimelech, like the bramble, had no power or ability to help, he had great power to harm. Those who had made Abimelech king were in a dilemma. If they remained loyal to him, they would enjoy his mocking protection. If they deserted him, he would bring them to ruin.
The condensed moral of the whole parable is this: Weak, worthless, and wicked men will ever be foremost to thrust themselves into power, and, in the end, to bring ruin upon themselves and the unhappy people over whom they preside.
16. If you have done truly. Jotham begins the application of the parable. Their action in making Abimelech king—even they would have to admit—was performed thoughtlessly and in a cavalier fashion.
According to the deserving. Having shown the dangerous situation in which the people of Shechem had involved themselves, Jotham sternly rebuked them for the ingratitude they had shown toward Gideon by financing Abimelech’s raid on Gideon’s house during the course of which Abimelech had massacred 69 of his own half brothers. This was the reward the inhabitants of Shechem gave the family of one who had risked his life to deliver the inhabitants of Palestine from the Midianite hordes. Great favors often meet with ill returns, especially from posterity.
18. Have slain his sons. Because they financed Abimelech in his evil deed Jotham held the men of Shechem jointly responsible for the murder of his brothers.
Maidservant. That is, a slave concubine. The term is intentionally contemptuous. Chapter 9:1 indicates that Gideon’s concubine was probably a freewoman, perhaps from an influential family.
19. Have dealt truly. The words are ironical. If your conduct is just and right, I wish you much joy in it. May your bramble-king bring you peace and prosperity, if you have acted in good faith.
20. But if not. Jotham’s hearers knew they had not acted in good faith, and this imprecation must have been like a knell of doom.
Let fire come out. Jotham’s curse was that Abimelech and the men of Shechem would perish by mutual destruction. Frequently the unity of bad men speedily changes into enmity and reciprocal extermination. This malediction was exactly fulfilled as recorded in the remainder of the chapter (see vs. 56, 57).
21. Beer. Signifying “well.” There were many places in Palestine that bore this name. This renders exact identification of the place impossible. Jotham would likely have been safe anywhere in the territories of Judah or Banjamin, and he probably fled to one territory or the other.
22. Over Israel. That is, over all the Israelites, who would accept his authority. This comprised probably chiefly those in the area of Shechem.
23. God sent. That is, God did not interfere with the natural consequences of a course of evil. That which God allows is often presented as though He is the author. Those who do not choose to serve God thereby leave themselves open to the control of Satan.
Evil spirit. This may mean an evil temper or attitude. The word “spirit” is often used to describe attitude or disposition (see Num. 14:24).
Dealt treacherously. the men of Shechem now began to deal with Abimelech as they had helped him to deal with the sons of Gideon. It was only natural that those who were unfaithful to Gideon would be unfaithful to Abimelech. The record does not state the immediate cause of the break between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Perhaps they found all too soon that he was an iron-handed despot who did not hesitate to take advantage of them after he had been made king.
24. Aided him. Literally, “strengthened his hands.”
25. Set liers in wait. Abimelech probably took up his residence at Ophrah after he had destroyed his brothers there. The men of Shechem, in their disaffection, laid an ambush in the hope of capturing Abimelech at a time when he was escorted by only a few men. While waiting for their victim to appear, the ruthless men who formed the ambush began to rob all travelers and caravans that came along. The countryside was soon in a state of insecurity that was damaging to Abimelech’s prestige and popularity.
Top of the mountains. Probably near Shechem. This town was on the two main arteries of travel through the mountains of Ephraim. All the roads could easily be commanded from the heights of the twin mountains, Ebal and Gerizim. This section of Palestine has always been a favorite haunt of highwaymen.
26. Gaal. His name means “scarab.”
His brethren. Evidently brothers or relatives formed the nucleus of Gaal’s coterie of followers.
Went over. This may suggest that Gaal had previously lived beyond the Jordan.
27. Merry. Heb. hilulim, from the root halal, “to praise.” Hilulim is translated “praise” in Lev. 19:24. The wine-gathering festival in Palestine was the most joyous of all the year. Among the Canaanites it was generally accompanied with orgiastic feasting, drinking, and hilarious merriment. This is the kind of gathering described here. On such an occasion the latent dissatisfaction with Abimelech’s rule would certainly come to the surface. Under the influence of wine and merrymaking they became bold and rash enough to abuse Abimelech and to speak openly against him. In the very temple where they had plotted with Abimelech and had taken its treasures to finance his first nefarious foray, they now cursed him and contrived his ruin.
28. Who is Abimelech? Obviously contemptuous, like, “Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse?” in 1 Sam. 25:10.
Who is Shechem? Probably a reflection on the city also for allowing such a one as Abimelech to rule over its inhabitants. Did Shechem naturally and traditionally belong to Abimelech?
Zebul his officer. “We are not even being ruled by Abimelech,” he said in effect, “but merely by Zebul, his underling, who is of no account at all.” Zebul had apparently been placed by Abimelech as governor or prefect of the city (see v. 30). Gaal was preparing the way to usurp Zebul’s position and authority.
Men of Hamor. How much better to make as your leader a pure-blooded Canaanite, descendant of our old native prince Hamor, the hereditary owner of Shechem (see Gen. 33:19; Joshua 24:32).
29. Would to God Heb. mi, literally, “who,” an idiomatic exclamation, meaning, “O that I might have” Actually the word “God” is not in the Hebrew. The KJV translates the clause into idiomatic English. A further example of idiomatic translation introducing the name of God is found in the NT expression “God forbid” (Rom. 3:31; etc.). The original simply has “may it not become.”
As to Gaal’s methods, compare the similar method Absalom used to undermine David’s position (2 Sam. 15:4). The statement is directed against Zebul. Gaal infers that if he were the governor of the city in the place of Zebul, he would make short work of Abimelech.
He said. The LXX reads “I would say.” According to the context, this is probably the correct reading. In the Hebrew the two forms are very similar, and it is possible that a copyist mistook one for the other. Verse 31 suggests that Zebul sent word secretly to Abimelech notifying him concerning what was taking place. If Gaal had openly challenged Abimelech face to face, there would have been no need for a secret mission. If the translation “and he said” is retained, it can be interpreted to mean that Gaal spoke to Abimelech in animated, imaginary, oratorical dialogue. If this be so, then the applause of the Shechemites emboldened the wine-heated orator to the extent that he turned, as if addressing Abimelech, and boastingly said, “Increase thine army, and come out.”
30. Ruler of the city. See on v. 28.
Heard the words. Betrayers are often betrayed in turn by those of their own number. The cursing of a king is carried by a bird of the air (Eccl. 10:20). Gaal’s drunken boast reached the ears of Zebul, who became angry over it, for his own overthrow, he learned, was to be connected with Abimelech’s. This narrative, though simple, is superbly told, enabling us to trace clearly the advancing progress of the conspiracy, in which secret treachery and open dissipation, boasting and jealousy, conspire together to bring doom to the city.
31. Privily. Heb. betormah. This may be translated either “in secret” or “in Tormah.” If the latter is correct, Abimelech was dwelling in a town named Tormah. Verse 41 states he lived in Arumah. Unless the two names describe the same town, the first translation, “in secret,” is undoubtedly correct. Zebul acted secretly. He was not strong enough to deal with Gaal, so he did not openly oppose him. Had Gaal been wiser, he might have dealt more subtly with Zebul.
35. Entering of the gate. During the judges period the city gate was the regular place where officials met with the people. Zebul came to the gate this particular morning because he was expecting trouble. Gaal came also, for he was intently watching developments in the city, that he might further his own ends.
36. There come people. During the night Abimelech’s forces had come as near to the city as they could without causing alarm. In the early morning, after the gates were open and many of the people had gone out of the walls to their fields, Abimelech’s soldiers began to advance upon the city. Gaal, who was standing watch at the gate, immediately detected them, and excitedly shouted the information to Zebul. We may imagine the latter, in order to gain time for Abimelech, leisurely going out to look, and then replying with deceit and mockery, “You’re unnecessarily excited It is only shadows cast by Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim.” Zebul seems to treat him as if he were still partially suffering from the intoxication of the night before.
37. Middle of the land. Literally, “land’s navel.” It was probably the name of a hill, so called because it was halfway between the Jordan and the sea.
Another company. From all points commanding the avenues of the city, troops of Abimelech’s soldiers advanced, to the consternation of Gaal and the surprise of the citizens.
The plain. The preferable translation is “oak tree” (see on v. 6).
Of Meonenim. Probably more correctly translated “of the diviners” than as a proper name. This sacred oak was probably the seat of a family or sect of sooth-sayers.
38. Where is now thy mouth? “Mouth” is here used metaphorically for “boastfulness.” It is an expostulation against Gaal’s past rashness and audacity. Although Zebul still seems to be in no position openly to oppose Gaal for fear of his own personal safety, yet he does, by his taunts before bystanders, goad Gaal to fulfill his boast (v. 28) by going out to fight with Abimelech’s forces. Insolent, boastful men are often made to change their rash attitude in a brief time, and to dread those whom they have previously insulted.
40. Overthrown and wounded. Better, “fell slain.” Abimelech won a complete victory without much trouble. Evidently Gaal’s followers suffered heavy losses. We are left in uncertainty as to why Zebul did not close the city gates to cut off Gaal’s retreat. Perhaps Gaal left a strong force of men to protect the gate in order that he and his men might find safety within the walls if they were defeated.
41. Dwelt at Arumah. That is, Arumah being Abimelech’s home, he now returned thither. He did not try to storm Shechem. Its walls were sufficiently formidable so that he decided to take it by stratagem. Therefore he returned to his home at Arumah as though, having disposed of Gaal, he would not press the quarrel with the Shechemites. By withdrawing his forces he succeeded in lulling the Shechemites into an unwise sense of security.
Thrust out Gaal. Gaal’s inability to oppose Abimelech cost him his following in Shechem. No one had confidence in him any more, and, perhaps, hoping that Abimelech would be appeased if Gaal were sent away, the men of Shechem acquiesced to Zebul. Gaal and the few men he had left with him were asked to leave the city, which they did.
43. Smote them. After many of the townspeople had gone to work in the fields, Abimelech’s men attacked and ruthlessly destroyed them. It is difficult to understand how the inhabitants of Shechem foolishly believed that Abimelech would be content with the banishment of Gaal and not follow up his initial victory by an attack upon the city.
44. Entering of the gate. Abimelech’s strategy was better this time. As soon as the attack began, he led one group of his men to the city gate and captured it. By means of this perilous sally he was able to prevent the Shechemites outside the city from getting back inside, or those within to get out to rescue their comrades. There is no denying Abimelech’s courage.
45. Took the city. The inhabitants of Shechem fought bitterly. It took all day for Abimelech to widen his beachhead at the gate and finally to devastate the city. He let no one escape. Presumably the entire population perished by sword or fire.
Sowed it with salt. Abimelech’s anger was not assauged until the entire city, edifices and walls, had been thrown down. Then Abimelech sprinkled salt over the ruins in a symbolic action, to express the wish that it might be barren and uninhabited forever (see Deut. 29:23; Ps. 107:34, margin). It would have been difficult to put enough salt there to spoil the land, at least over an appreciable area. That is hardly what the passage means. Similar actions have been reported of the Assyrians, Attila, and Charles IX of France. Shechem was a prosperous city again in Solomon’s time (1 Kings 12:1). Its vicinity was too fertile and its location at a crossroad too advantageous to remain unoccupied for long.
46. Tower of Shechem. This may be the “house of Millo” (see on v. 6).
An hold. Heb. ṣeriach. An underground cellar or excavation (see 1 Sam. 13:6, ASV, where it is translated “covert”). In this instance the “hold” was connected with a temple.
God Berith. It is not clear whether this temple of the god Berith was the same as that of Baal-berith mentioned earlier in the chapter (v. 4). The supposition is that they were identical.
In antiquity temples were regarded as places of asylum. This was so among the Jews (1 Kings 2:28–34) and the heathen (1 Macc. 5:43). Classical Greek literature abounds with illustrations of men fleeing to the temples for political asylum. The residents in the vicinity could have fought it out in their fortified tower, but they chose to go to the temple and plead for mercy. Had Abimelech not been ruthless, he would probably have respected this ancient custom and spared the people. However, mercy seemed totally foreign to his nature.
48. Mount Zalmon. An unknown hill close by.
49. Set the hold on fire. It is evident that the hold was not intended for defense. It was a walled cellar of the temple precinct into which the refugees had fled expecting that Abimelech would honor their right of asylum there. The intense heat of the pitchy branches soon set the wooden paneling on fire, with the result that everyone in the cavernous rooms perished, perhaps as many as 1,000 men and women in all.
The prophecy of Jotham was literally fulfilled. Fire had gone forth from the bramble-king and destroyed the people of Shechem (v. 20). Many of the people were probably in no way concerned with the quarrel or with making Abimelech king. Perhaps they had not meddled with either side. However, all through the centuries men of turbulent spirits cause others to perish with them. Millions of innocent people still perish in cruel wars brought on by a few evil men.
50. Thebez. There is at the present time a town named Tûbâṣ about 9 mi. (14.4 km.) northeast of Shechem. Many believe this is the place here mentioned, but the identity is questionable. Thebez had apparently followed Shechem in the rebellion against the rule of Abimelech.
51. Top of the tower. Towers like this have been found in Palestine with stone walls as much as 14 ft. thick. There were floors or stories within the tower with a platform on top from which to defend it. Into this last formidable citadel the citizens of Thebez fled after Abimelech had broken through their city walls. The frequent mention of towers reflects the unsettled state of the country.
52. Went hard unto the door. With his characteristic fury and bravery Abimelech attacked the tower. When the defenders resisted his furious attacks, Abimelech tried to set the wooden door on fire. If he had succeeded in burning the door down, his men could have successfully stormed the tower.
53. A certain woman. Even the women were helping with the defense. While the men would use bows and spears, women could roll down heavy stones on those who exposed themselves by venturing near the base of the tower.
Piece of a millstone. Literally, “millstone of riding”; that is, the upper half of the millstone that was turned while grinding in contrast to the lower stone that remained stationary. The fact that this woman had a millstone suggests that the tower may have been stocked with grain and instruments for grinding flour in anticipation of a siege.
All to brake his skull. An obsolete English phrase over the meaning of which there has been much controversy. The Hebrew says, “crushed his skull.” The word for “skull” here is gulgoleth, from which comes the name Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified. Even if Abimelech had been wearing a heavy helmet, such an object falling from a height of 30 or 40 ft. would crush his head.
54. His armourbearer. Military leaders usually had an aide-de-camp or squire as a token of importance as well as to carry the master’s heavy shield and spear when no battle was in progress (see Judges 7:10; 1 Sam. 14:6; 31:4).
That men say not. The horror of being slain by a woman was not confined to the Hebrews (see chs. 4:9; 5:24–27). The same feeling is expressed in Greek and Roman literature. Abimelech probably feared also lest, mortally wounded as he was, he should fall into the hands of his enemies, who would treat him with insult and torture. Despite all his pains to end his life by other means, Abimelech still did not escape the odium of being slain by a woman (see 2 Sam. 11:21).
Abimelech in his dying moments might well have given consideration to what men thought of his life, for that is the basis on which posterity finally judges a man. Even to this day the matters about which men are most sensitive are often not the basic things of life that really matter. Those who in life consult only their pride and ambition will usually die as they have lived, more solicitous that their reputation should be preserved on earth than that their souls be saved from destruction.
Thrust him through. The first man who sought to exercise kingship over Israel, and the first real king of Israel, Saul, sought to die similarly (see 1 Sam. 31:3, 4).
55. Every man unto his place. The death of a leader was generally sufficient to break up and scatter an ancient army (see 1 Sam. 17:51).
56. Thus God rendered. These words give the moral of the whole account. The writer of this book felt deeply that God controlled the events of history, punishing both individual and national crimes. The murderer of the sons of Gideon “upon one stone” is killed by a stone striking his head, whereas the wicked Shechemites who used temple money to hire assassins of good men were burned to death in that same temple by the one they aided in the deed. The curse of Jotham had been completely fulfilled.
ELLEN G. WHITE COMMENTS
1–6 PP 556, 557