Judges and Ruth


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Judges and Ruth Faithlessness and Faith in the Promised Land

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose?



What was Judges’ structure and content?



What was Ruth’s date and purpose?



What was Ruth’s structure and content?



How do Judges and Ruth point us to Jesus and the NT?

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose? •

We need to distinguish between the date the events took place and the date when the book was written. •

The events themselves took place between Joshua’s death (1:1; either mid-14th or late-13th century, depending on when the exodus is dated) and the rise of Samuel and Saul (mid-11th century)

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose? •

We need to distinguish between the date the events took place and the date when the book was written. •

The book itself was likely written early in David’s reign as king. •

1:21: “So the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day”; this would’ve been before David conquered the city for Judah in 2 Samuel 5



What about 18:30-31? Likely refers to the fall of Shiloh as a religious center to the Philistines, described in 1 Samuel 4.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose? •

Purpose? In order to get at purpose, we have to ask two questions: •

First, what is a “judge”? •

Remember, Israel moves from a central charismatic leader (Moses and Joshua) to a decentralized tribal administration in the Promised Land. They were to be ruled by God as their King (8:23).



In the OT, a judge was not simply a legal authority on the Mosaic law (although see Exodus 18);



Rather, they were charismatic (i.e. Spirit-empowered) military leaders whom God raised up and empowered for specific tasks of deliverance (2:16).

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose? •

Purpose? In order to get at purpose, we have to ask two questions: •

First, what is a “judge”? •

These judges weren’t necessarily heroic individuals—some were worthy of emulation, but most had some significant flaw. In addition, there was a downward spiral even in their own spirituality (from Othniel to Samson).



There are twelve judges presented in the book and they will fight and administer justice in every area of Israel’s territory.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ date and purpose? •

Purpose? In order to get at purpose, we have to ask two questions: •

Second, what is the book’s refrain? •

The book’s key refrain is, “In there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25). The implication is that in order for Israel to maintain covenant faithfulness, they required a central, charismatic leader who would enforce God’s law.



Taking these two things together—the temporary, regional, and flawed nature of the judges and the book’s refrain—we can say that the purpose of Judges is to prepare us for the coming of God’s King who would lead God’s people according to God’s law (Deut 17:14-20).



And if the book was written in the Davidic period, then it could be seen as buttressing his rule—David is this promised divine King who ruled according to God’s law.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

We have to remember how Deuteronomy relates to the historical books themselves: the historical books evaluate Israel in the light of whether they are obeying or disobeying God’s covenant established in Deuteronomy.



And so, central to Judges’s structure and story is Israel’s pattern of disobedience and idolatry and God’s repeated judgment that sought Israel’s repentance and renewal.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

Introduction (1:1-2:5) •

The conquest continues with representative battles fought by Judah and “Joseph” (i.e. Ephraim); again those two tribes are the key representatives of the northern ten and southern two tribes.



Six tribes (Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan) fail to drive out the Canaanites and become content to have them dwell in their midst, opposed to God’s instructions.



God brings judgment upon them (2:1-5) for their failure and promises that “they shall become thorns in your sides and their gods shall be a snare to you.”

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

Downward spiral (2:6-16:31) •

And that’s just what happens: the summary of the pattern (2:6-3:6) •

The generation that does not know the Lord (2:10)



The generation that “does what is evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord” (2:11-12a)



God gave them over to plunders and oppressors and enemies (2:14)



God raised up judges who saved them (2:16)



But Israel would not listen but continued to whore after false gods (2:17)



Each cycle actually moved downward on a spiral (2:19)

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

Downward spiral (2:6-16:31) •

Twelve cycles of the downward spiral (3:7-16:31) •

There are twelve judges listed; six “major” and six “minor” judges.



These judges are not necessarily chronological



They are distributed geographically—every area of Israel had a judge operative



The judges decline in spiritual quality: Samson

Judge

Reference

Tribe

Oppressor

Othniel

3:7-11

Judah

Mesopotamians

Ehud

3:12-30

Benjamin

Moabites

Shamgar

3:31

Deborah

4-5

Ephraim

Canaanites

Gideon

6-8

Manasseh

Midianites

Tola

10:1-2

Issachar

Jair

10:3-5

Gilead-Manasseh

Jephthah

10:6-12:7

Gilead-Manasseh

Ibzan

12:8-10

Judah or Zebulun?

Elon

12:11-12

Zebulun

Abdon

12:13-15

Ephraim

Samson

13-16

Dan

Philistines

Ammonites

Philstines

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

Depths of Apostasy (17-21) •

Samson’s sorry story prepares us for these two shocking stores of religious and moral deterioration.



Religious deterioration (17-18) •

This Levite, who is supposed to serve the tabernacle, hires himself out as a priest for a family (then a tribe) and a priest of an idol.



And punchline? This Levite is “Jonathan, the son of Gershom, son of Moses” (18:30).

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Judges’ structure and content? •

Depths of Apostasy (17-21) •

Moral deterioration (19-21) •

This account of the Levite and his concubine has also sorts of problems: •

Concubinage, which was against the divine command for Levites



The behavior of the Benjaminites (in Gibeah—not just where Eleazar is buried [Josh 24:33], but also from where Saul will be [1 Sam 10:26]): replicating the worst sexual acts of Sodom and Gomorrah



The dissection of the dead concubine



The “Holy War” slaughter of Benjamin



The strange provision of women for Benjamin after the fact

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Ruth’s date and purpose? •



It is against the backdrop of Israel’s faithlessness that you have this account called “Ruth”— •

The connection with Judges (1:1); in the Hebrew Bible, it comes between Proverbs and Song of Solomon.



But it also provides a rationale for kingship—in the same way that Judges ends, “In those days there was no king in Israel,” Ruth ends with a genealogy of David, Israel’s great king.

This provides a sense of date (after 1010 BC and likely during David’s reign) and purpose (justification of the Davidic kingship, perhaps against the former Saulide rule?).

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Ruth’s structure and content? •



The key verse is Ruth 1:21—Naomi went out full, but came back empty. •

Why was she empty? And how did that relate to Israel’s emptiness? (1:1-5)



And yet, even though she (and Israel) knew emptiness because they had forsaken the true God and cooperated with foreign peoples, God would provide for her fullness and redemption (1:16-17).

And so, Ruth is a story about how God will fill empty Naomi/Israel once again through the provision of a King.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

What was Ruth’s structure and content? •

Four “scenes” that speak to emptiness and fullness: •

Scene 1: the emptiness of Naomi and the provision of Ruth (1)



Scene 2: the emptiness of the women and the provision of grain (2)— key verse 2:12-13



Scene 3: the emptiness of Ruth and the provision of Boaz (3)—key verse 3:9-11



Scene 4: The redemption of Boaz and the fullness of Ruth and Naomi (4:1-17)—key verse 4:14-15



Appendix: The provision of a King (4:17b-22)

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

How do Judges and Ruth point us to Jesus and the NT? •

Because both books set the stage for the Davidic King —the godly King who rules God’s people according to God’s law—both books look beyond David to the perfect Davidic King, Jesus. •

As such, they serve to remind us that even David will not be able to fix the problems of the human heart from which disobedience and apostasy spring.

Approaching Judges and Ruth •

How do Judges and Ruth point us to Jesus and the NT? •

Some of the judges are mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah)—why? Hebrews looks at them as “men of faith” in the role of “conquering kingdoms,” i.e., serving as God’s judges to deliver Israel. •



However, that does not mean that their lives are worthy of imitation or that their sin and failure was insignificant and excusable.

Ruth is mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1:5), reminding us of the implicit connection found at the end of Ruth (Ruth 4:22)