The men of Ephraim became angry with Gideon because he had not called them to war against the Midianites. Gideon and his men, although physically exhausted, continued to pursue the Midianites. Arriving in pursuit at Succoth, Gideon asked for some food to be provided to his men as they were exhausted from their pursuit. The men of Succoth refused and Gideon responded that once he was done with the Midianites, he would return and tear their flesh with thorns and briars. Gideon and his men traveled to Penuel and requested food from that city as well with the same response of no provided to them. Gideon declared he would return to that city and would tear down their tower.
Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor along with their armies, a total of about 15,000 men. Gideon and his men attacked the camp of Zebah and Zalmunna, routing the whole army and forcing those two kings to flee, capturing both of them.
Returning from the battle, Gideon came to Succoth and found out where the leaders of Succoth were staying. Gideon showed those men Zebah and Zalmumma and then took the leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with thorns and briars as he had promised. Gideon then went to Penuel, tore down their tower and killed the men of the city.
Having capture Zebah and Zalmunna, Gideon told his firstborn son Jether to kill them. He refused and Zebah and Zalmunna taunted Gideon saying if he had any strength as a man, he would kill them. Gideon did as they suggested, taking the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.
The men of Israel asked Gideon to rule over them, but he refused, telling them God would rule over them. Gideon did make a request of the men, asking them to give him the earrings captured as plunder. They gladly gave Gideon those earrings. Gideon made an ephod out of those earrings and set it up in Ophrah. All Israel played the harlot there with the ephod and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.
The land remained quiet under Gideon for 40 years. His concubine bore Gideon a son named Abimelech. When Gideon died, the people once again did what was evil in the sight of God, serving the baals, making Baal-Berith their god.
Abimelech went to Shechem to his mother’s brothers and asked them if it was better that 70 men ruled over them or only one. The men of Shechem gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to follow him. He went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers and the 70 sons of Jerubbaal. Only the youngest son remained alive because he had hid himself. The men of Shechem made Abimelech their king.
When this was told to Jotham, the youngest son who had survived and hid himself, Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and cried out to the men of Shechem that what they had done with Abimelech was wrong and they had forgotten all Gideon had done for them, let alone what God had done for them.
Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years, but God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem so the crime committed against the sons of Jerubbaal might be settled.
The end of Abimelech came in a rather interesting manner. As he camped against the city of Thebek and came against that city to take it, he encountered a strong tower in the city where all the men and women of the city had fled. Abimelech came against the tower and fought against it and he came near the door of the tower in order to set it on fire. A woman dropped an upper millstone on his head, crushing his skull. So that he would not be known as having died at the hands of a woman, Abimelech asked his armorbearer to take his sword and kill him which he did. When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech had died, they returned to their homes.