Some people shy away from the Old Testament because we want the Bible to be nice. We want nice stories that make us feel good. Many of the Old Testament; however, remind us how little human nature has changed over the centuries.
In today's first reading we hear how one son of Gideon orchestrates the death of 68 of his brothers and his own rise to power. His father Gideon aka Jerbbaal (the one who contended with Baal) has many wives and a total of 70 sons who after his death shared the leadership of the people.
Abimelech goes to his mother and has her begin a whispering campaign among her people. The whispering makes two simple points:
Wouldn't it be better to be ruled over by one than by 70? and
Remember that I am one of you
And so whispering one person to another abimelech is able to use his own mother to sow the seeds of division and discord among the people.
He then hires mercenaries to go with him to his father's house and kills all of his brothers but the youngest Jotham who hides and escapes.
Division, dissention, and death (fratricide), all started with a whisper.
Abimelech knew what is still true today. If you can get enough people to repeat something, the people will believe it is true.
The power of a whisper