Judges 9 recounts the sad and bad exploits of Abimelech, son of Gideon by a slave girl, and assassin of 69 of Gideon’s sons, with Jotham the sole survivor. He ruled Israel for three years before “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem.” They had originally conspired with him as leader since he had been a resident in their community.
In the “good old days” of peace between them, the citizens had withdrawn 1 ¾ pounds of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith. (Not that they stole the money. In ancient times temples were often bankers entrusted with wealth.) Anyway, Abimelech used the cash to hire “reckless adventurers”—AKA known as “soldiers of fortune.”
Hiring such men to serve as militia and a standing army wasn’t unusual in that day—or this. King George III couldn’t persuade enough Englishmen to fight his American colonies, so he paid Hessians from Hesse in Germany. To this day, Americans who love to fight, and prove they can fight, will always find work killing people somewhere in the world—or even as bodyguards for drug lords, but no less savage protecting their bosses.
All of this introduces the essential point: Israelite kings often resorted to hiring mercenaries as warriors. Check Judges 11:3, I Kings 11:23-25, II Chronicles 13:6-7. David’s two ego-centric sons Absalom and Adonijah loved the display of having the appearance of an army by hiring 50 armed guards to serve as their vanguard II Samuel 15:1, I Kings 1:5. David’s constitutional inability to discipline his sons encouraged their publicity-seeking adventures. End Part I