The Canticle of Ruth (Ruth 1:15-1:18)

“So she said. ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Return after your sister-in-law. But Ruth said.

‘Do not press me to leave you.

Or to turn back from following you!

Where you go, I will go.

Where you lodge I will lodge.

Your people shall be my people.

Your God shall be my God.

Where you die, I will die.

There will I be buried.

May Yahweh do thus and so to me.

May he do more as well.

Even if death parts me from you’

When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.”

This is the beautiful poetic words of Ruth, ‘Whither you go, so shall I…’ Although it sounds like a lovely marriage vow, it is really a daughter-in-law showing her love for her mother-in-law. Now Ruth was not allowed in the cult of Yahweh because she was a Moabite, as per Deuteronomy, chapter 23.

Naomi decides to return to Israel (Ruth 1:6–14)

“Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab. She had heard in the country of Moab that Yahweh had considered his people. He had given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law. They went on their way to go back to the land of Judah.”

Things got better in Israel so Naomi decided to return to her home in Bethlehem since she was going to leave Moab. It might have been strange to have Israelite men take Moab wives.

“Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law. ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May Yahweh deal kindly with you, just as you have dealt with the dead and with me. May Yahweh grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them. They wept aloud. They said to her. ‘No, we will return with you to your people.’ But Naomi said. ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husband’s? Turn back, my daughters, go your way. I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought that there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of Yahweh has turned against me.’ Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.”

Naomi wanted her daughter-in-laws to return to their mothers, but they were reluctant. They wanted to go with her. Finally after much sobbing and embracing, Orpah decides to go home, return to her mother and her gods. However, Ruth goes with Naomi. It is still unclear why Naomi had come to Moab or why Ruth feels such an attachment to her mother-in-law. She feels that Yahweh had turned against her so that she wants to return to her family.

Setting the scene (Ruth 1:1–1:5)

“In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab. He went with his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech. The name of his wife was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died. She was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives. The name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. When they lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.”

This is a nice simple story that focuses on a single family, not the grand theme of a country or nation. The setting for this romantic story is the time of the judges before the kings came to be, sometime over a thousand years before Christ. This book was probably written a few hundred years later after this oral story was repeated over and over again, maybe even written by a woman. The famine was a common theme in the Bible as Abraham, Jacob, and many others experienced this lack of food. Naomi and her husband with their two sons were from Bethlehem in the tribe of Judah, about five miles south of Jerusalem. They went to Moab, which is east of the Jordan, the place where the Israelites were not treated well. The Israelites believed that the Moabites could trace their origin to Lot, the nephew of Abraham, in Genesis, chapter 39, since Lot had an incestuous relationship with his daughter that led to the birth of Moab. The Moab territory had a mixed relationship in Israelite history as the Moabite women had enticed the Israelites to follow them in worship. Although Elimelech and Naomi were from the tribe of Judah, they were also descendants from Ephraim, as Ephrathites. The two son’s names have a meaning of weak and consumption. In this story all the men, Naomi’s husband and two sons, die.


Outline of the Book of Ruth

Outline of the Book of Ruth


Ruth General Structure (per Jerusalem Bible)


I. Ruth and Naomi

Setting the scene (Ruth 1:1–1:5)

Naomi decides to reurn to Israel (Ruth 1:6–1:14)

Canticle of Ruth (Ruth 1:15-1:18)

Lamentation of Naomi in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19–1:22)


 II. Ruth and Bo

Boaz (Ruth 2:1-2:1)

Ruth in the field of Boaz (Ruth 2:2–2:7)

The conversation between Ruth and Boaz (Ruth 2:8–2:17)

Ruth reports to Naomi (Ruth 2:18–2:23)


III. Boaz sleeping

Naomi reveals her plan to Ruth (Ruth 3:1–3:5)

Ruth at the threshing-floor of Boaz (Ruth 3:6–3:15)

Ruth reports to Naomi (Ruth 3:16–18)


IV .Boaz marries Ruth

Boaz with the kinsman and the men at the gate (Ruth 4:1–4:6)

Boaz agrees to purchase the land and family of Elimelech (Ruth 4:7–4:12)

A son is born to Naomi (Ruth 4:13–4:17)

Genealogy appendix (Ruth 4:18–4:22)



Thank you – 7

May 31, 2014

Thank you – 7


I just finished blogging the Book of Judges. Every time I finish a book of the Bible, I will send a thank you. I usually post five blogs a day covering a chapter or two of the biblical books. Sometimes I do not do this regularly, but I hope that to be an average amount. So far I have posted about 765 blogs about the individual paragraphs of the first five books of the Torah, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. With Joshua and Judges, this makes seven books of the Bible that are now complete.


Over 160 people have said that they are following this project.   The following people have begun following me on wordpress, the “Eugene Finnegan Bible Project,” or on searchgi since I finished the book of Joshua earlier this month. I just want to thank all of you.   Some of you want to moderate my comments, which is fine with me.  I especially want to thank pingback and humanity777 for their comments. If you want to contact me directly, my email is


Here is the list of the people who tried to contact me within the last two weeks. Obviously all of you are not using your own name, but that is fine with me.





International Bellhop

Uncle Tree


Curly Miri

Jose C Rivera


Peace – love – joy

Gene Finnegan



My Understanding of Judges

The Book of Judges is a series of odd stories about the twelve judges in Israel. Some judges seem important and others do not. There was no set pattern of how the judges came to be judges. However, all of them receive ‘the Spirit of Yahweh.’ These judges seem more like military leaders who are then somehow put in charge to keep peace.

However, there is a practical mini-play within each judge story. The Israelites do evil or bad things that displease Yahweh. They usually turn away from Yahweh to Baals or other gods. Then the enemies of Israel get an upper hand. So then the people cry to Yahweh for a leader. Yahweh then sends his ‘Spirit’ on this new leader. The new leader or judge defeats the enemy. Peace is then restored temporarily or for a period of time, until the next incident occurs.

The basic structure is simple. There are two introductions summarizing what had happened to Canaan and what was going on there. Then the stories of the twelve judges unfolded. Finally there is an appendix about the Danites and Benjaminites and what happened to them.

Judges seems to have two sources. One seems to be a collection of oral stories about local tribal heroes. The second source might be a lost book about the wars of Israel. It is not clear whether this was a compilation of stories or the work of one individual putting them together. Clearly there was a monarchist tendency with a pro-Judah stance that would date it to the time of the kings or later. Judges talks about this period being a time without kings so that everyone did what they thought was right. It definitely is in the Deuteronomytradition, following up on Joshua. Once again, this would put the final redaction and writing of this book in the sixth or seventh century BCE around the time of the Exile. In fact, in the appendix there is a mention of ‘up to the time of the captivity.’

The six major judges are Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, a female judge, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, a real super hero. The six lesser judges are Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon. The last six are barely mentioned with just a sentence or two about them. On the other hand, the major judges have wonderful stories or incidents around their lives. The four major ones, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson have longer more elaborate stories, while Othniel and Ehud have only one simple story about them.

Each judge had an enemy. Othniel fought the King of Aram. Ehud killed the fat King Eglon the Moabite in his chamber. Deborah with Barak the field general fought Sisera, the captain of King Jabin at Hazor. Judges then has a beautiful canticle where Deborah empathizes with Sisera’s mother. Gideon fought against the gods of Baal. He was involved in a lot of battles with the people on the east side of the Jordan, particularly the Midianites and the Amalekites. Abimelech, the bastard son of Gideon, killed his seventy brothers. He was like the first king, at least of a certain area around Shechem. Jephthah fought against the Ammonites. Then, of course, super hero strong Samson fought against the Philistines. There are some fantastic stories about Samson, his riddles, his super strength, Delilah and the cutting his hair, with his final suicide destruction of the Philistine temple.

The Appendix at the end of this book has two stories without judges, about the Danites and Benjaminites. Both stories are quirky. Somehow this guy Micah had his own little shrine. However, the Danites took his Levite priest and his idol. They then attacked the northern town of Laish and established themselves in northern Israel.

The other story took place at Gibeah, where there was this terrible incident that almost led to the extinction of the Benjaminites. Some townspeople raped and killed the concubine of a Levite, who got everyone relied up against the people of Gibeah. The Benjaminites took issue and were nearly wiped out in a battle with the rest of Israel. Then they find a strange way to help the Benjamin tribe survive.

So the period of time when everyone did what they wanted was slowing coming to an end. Judges is a fairly good example of the various tribal skirmishes that took place in the Promised Land. Sometimes, it was tribe against tribe, while other times, there was a common enemy. Each one of the judges had a call from Yahweh. They were not kings, but more like fighting prophets filled with the ‘Spirit of Yahweh.’

The lack of a king in Israel (Judg 21:24-21:25)

“The Israelites departed from there at that time by tribes and families. They went out from to their own territories. In those days there was no king in Israel. All the people did what was right in their own eyes.”

So ends the book of Judges. There was no king, so that a lot of strange things happened. However, there was authority with the various judges and the other group leaders. A king will not solve all these human problems. Everyone tried to do what was right in their own eyes. This was a very selfish or self-centered approach. Because a few people in one town do some terrible thing, they almost wipe out a tribe, killing thousands of people.

The abduction of the daughters of Shiloh (Judg 21:15-21:23)

“The people had compassion on Benjamin because Yahweh had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. Then the elders of the congregation said. ‘What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since there are no women left in Benjamin?’ They said. ‘There must be heirs for the survivors of Benjamin, in order that a tribe may not be blotted out from Israel. Yet we cannot give any of our daughters to them as wives.’ For Israelites had sworn. ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to Benjamin.’

Suddenly, everyone was worried about Benjamin. That is the problem with war. Everyone is eager to start it, but they never know what to do when it is over. There were no Benjaminite women for the men. They did not worry about the dead, only the fact that the tribe of Benjamin might disappear. They were not going to give their daughters to the Benjaminites.

“So they said. ‘Look the yearly feast of Yahweh is taking place at Shiloh, which is north of Bethel, on the east of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and south of Lebonah.’ They instructed the Benjaminites. ‘Go and lie in wait in the vineyards! Watch! When the young women of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come out of the vineyards. Each of you can carry off a wife for himself from the young women of Shiloh. Then go to the land of Benjamin. Then if their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, we will say to them. ‘Be generous and allow us to have them, because we did not capture in battle a wife for each man. But neither did you incur guilt by giving your daughters to them.’ The Benjaminites did so. They took wives for each one of them from the dancers whom they abducted. Then they went and returned to their territory. They rebuilt the towns and lived in them.”

Wow! The answer to the lack of women is to have the Benjaminite men wait in the vineyards while there is a big feast at Shiloh for Yahweh. Then they would abduct the female dancers at this feast. Are not these women, the daughters of other Israelites since only Israelites would be celebrating a Yahweh feast? If a father or brother of these women complained, explain that this is one way of giving your daughter to the Benjaminites without incurring guilt. Shiloh was in Ephraim territory. This is the only mention of Lebonah, which was close to Shiloh. What a stupid solution to a stupid problem!

The virgins of Jabesh-gilead given to the Benjaminites (Judg 21:8-21:14)

“Then they said. ‘Is there anyone from the tribes of Israel who did not come up to Yahweh to Mizpah?’ It turned out that no one from Jabesh-gilead had come to the camp, to the assembly. For when the roll was called among the people, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there.  So the congregation sent twelve thousand soldiers there and commanded them. ‘Go! Put the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead to the sword, including the women and the little ones. This is what you shall do. Every male and every woman who has laid with a male you shall devote to destruction.’ They found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man. They brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.”

They tried to figure out who did not make the oath of not letting our young women marry the Benjaminites. One place that did not send anybody to the meeting at Mizpah was Jabesh-gilead. This town was on the east side of the Jordan, obviously in Gilead, in the territory of Manasseh. They decide to kill all the people in this town except for the virgins, which was around 400, so that they could become the wives of the Benjaminites.

“Then the whole congregation sent word to the Benjaminites who were at the rock of Rimmon. They proclaimed peace to them. Benjamin returned at that time. They gave them the women whom they had saved alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead. But they did not suffice for them.”

Now there is a peace treaty with the remaining 600 Benjaminites at Rimmon. They will get the 400 virgins of Jabesh-gilead. However, since there were 600 men that meant that they still needed another 200 women.

The regret of the Israelites (Judg 21:1-21:7)

“Now the Israelites had sworn at Mizpah. ‘No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.’ The people came to Bethel. They sat there until evening before God. They lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. They said. ‘O Yahweh, the God of Israel, why has it come to pass that today there should be one tribe lacking in Israel?’ On the next day, the people got up early. They built an altar there. They offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of well-being. Then the Israelites said. ‘Which of all the tribes of Israel did not come up in the assembly to Yahweh?’ A solemn oath had been taken concerning whoever did not come up to Yahweh to Mizpah. ‘That one shall be put to death.’ But the Israelites had compassion for Benjamin their brother, and said. ‘One tribe is cut off from Israel this day. What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by Yahweh that we will not give them any of our daughters for wives?’”

The Israelites seem to have buyer’s remorse. They just wiped out the tribe of Benjamin, but now they were worried about losing one of the 12 tribes. They had sworn not to give their daughters in marriage to the Benjaminites. Now what were they to do for the less than 1,000 Benjaminites who had no women to marry? Clearly Bethel is the chief place of worship. The Israelites built an altar there and offered sacrifices.