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GAAL (gā'ăl, Heb. ga‘al, loathing). A son of Ebed (Judg.9.26-Judg.9.41), captain of a band of free-booters who incited the Shechemites to rebel against the rule of Abimelech. After the death of his father Gideon, Abimelech murdered all but one of his seventy brothers so that he might become king of Shechem (Judg.9.1-Judg.9.5). After gaining the confidence of the men of Shechem, Gaal boasted under intoxication that he could overcome Abimelech if made leader of the Shechemites. Zebul, the governor of Shechem, was jealous of Gaal and secretly relayed this information to Abimelech who set up an ambush by night with four companies against Shechem. In the morning when Gaal went out and stood in the gate of the city, Abimelech and his army rose up out of hiding and chased Gaal and his company into the city, but Zebul turned them out. Abimelech fought against the rebels, killed them, destroyed their city, and sowed it with salt (Judg.9.42-Judg.9.45). Nothing more is known of Gaal, but clearly Abimelech’s weakness was foolhardy boasting, which he failed to make good in action.

GAAL gā’ əl (גַּ֤עַל, LXX Γααλ, scarab, or loathing). The son of Ebed who with a select group of men from among his relatives gained the confidence of the inhabitants of Shechem and stirred them up to revolt against Abimelech (Judg 9:26-41). While they were having a great banquet, Gaal and the men of Shechem became drunk and scoffed at Abimelech. In the midst of their revelry, Gaal boasted that with adequate support he could overthrow Abimelech. When Zebul, the ruler of Shechem heard this, he sent word to Abimelech urging him to quell the rebellion at once. He advised Abimelech to set an ambush around the city during the night. The next morning as Gaal and Zebul stood in the city gate watching, they saw the troops of Abimelech arise from hiding and approach the city. Zebul challenged Gaal to make good his boast to overthrow Abimelech. Gaal and his men were defeated and driven from the field, and they were repulsed from the city by Zebul. The next day Abimelech captured Shechem, destroyed it, and sowed it with salt. This was seen by the Scripture writer as the just judgment of God on the Shechemites who supported Abimelech in the assassination of his seventy brothers.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A man of whose antecedents nothing is known, except that his father’s name was Ebed. He undertook to foment and lead a rebellion on the part of the inhabitants of Shechem against Abimelech, son of Gideon, and his rebellion failed (Jud 9:26-45).