GAAL (Heb. גַּעַל), the son of Ebed, head of a band that fought *Abimelech son of Gideon (Judg. 9:26–41), who, with the help of mercenaries, had imposed his rule over Mt. Ephraim. Gaal's band is reminiscent of those that accompanied Jephthah (Judg. 11:10) and David (I Sam. 22:2; 23:1–13). During Abimelech's absence from Shechem, Gaal incited the inhabitants to revolt and took advantage of the social, and possibly also of the racial, tension prevailing among the various sections of the town's population. It appears that Gaal conspired with the ancient nobility in the locality, which claimed descent from Hamor the father of Shechem (9:28) and which apparently belonged to the Canaanite population hostile to Abimelech. The immediate cause of the friction was the highway robbery conducted by the Shechemites (9:25). Apparently, the ruling families seized control of the roads and interfered with Israelite commerce. Informed by Zebul, the city prefect, Abimelech quickly returned and, by a clever stratagem, crushed the revolt. Gaal was driven from the city (9:30–41) and was not heard of again.
A. Malamat, in: B. Mazar (ed.), Ha-Historyah shel Am Yisrael (1967), 226–8; idem, in: H.H. Ben-Sasson (ed.), Toledot Am Yisrael bi-Ymei Kedem (1969), 77. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Amit, Judges (1999), 171–80.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.