External Opposition to God’s Work and the Response of God’s People in Nehemiah 2

I’d like to look at the second chapter of the book of Nehemiah today and zero-in on a particular theme. And that theme is – the opposition to God’s work, and then the proper response that we as God’s people should have to that opposition. 

The theme of enemies who oppose the work that God was doing through Nehemiah is found often throughout this book – especially in chapters two, four, six, and thirteen. We’ll just focus on what’s revealed for us in Nehemiah 2 this morning. 

Opposition in Nehemiah 2:9-11 

So, let’s look at Nehemiah 2 and verses 9-11 in which we get the first hint of opposition to God’s work in this book. 

Neh 2:9 [After getting the king’s permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it…] Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king’s letters.  

Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 

So, that’s a good thing! God was sending this godly leader to help his people to do the work he wanted them to do. Who wouldn’t rejoice about this? Verse 10… 

10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the {servant, the Ammonite,/Ammonite official} heard of {it/God sending Nehemiah to help God’s people and rebuild their city}, {it grieved them exceedingly/it was very displeasing to them/they were very much disturbed} that there was come a man to {seek/promote} the welfare of the children of Israel. 

11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 

The Opposition 

So, note the parties involved in opposing God’s work. We’re given two names. Sanballat and Tobiah. They are not Jews – they’re not God’s people. And interestingly, this list of opponents increases as we continue in this book. 

Now, how is this opposition expressed? The enemies of God’s people are grieved or displeased or disturbed. They’re happy when God’s work is hindered and God’s people are disadvantaged. But when it looks like God’s work is going to go forward,… not so much. So, these enemies start off with some negative emotion but they’re not really acting it out just yet. 

So, that’s the opposition.  

The Response of God’s People 

Now, how does Nehemiah – the godly servant of the Lord – react to this opposition? Verse 11 seems to indicate that he just ignores them completely. And that’s sometimes what we need to do with external opposition to our serving the Lord – just ignore it and get to work. There is a time for that. 

OK, so that’s the first hint we get that certain people are opposed to the work that Nehemiah is doing for the sake of God’s people.  

Opposition in Nehemiah 2:17-20 

From there Nehemiah goes on his now-famous midnight ride around the city to survey the damage that’s been done to the wall and what needs to be fixed. 

Then he speaks to his fellow-Jews in Nehemiah 2:17 

17 Then said I unto {them/Nehemiah’s fellow-Jews},  

Ye see the {distress/bad situation/problem/trouble} that we {are in/have},  

how Jerusalem {lieth waste/is desolate/lies in ruins},  

and the gates thereof are burned with fire:  

come, and let us {build up/rebuild} the wall of Jerusalem, {that/so that} we be no more {a reproach/in disgrace}. 

18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which {was good upon/had been favorable to/was gracious to} me;  

as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me.  

And they said,  

Let us {rise up and build/begin building right away!/start rebuilding}.  

So they {strengthened their hands for/put their hands to/readied themselves for} this good {work/project}. 

So, again, this is great. God’s people are encouraged and ready to start the work he wanted them to do! Right?  

Not so fast. Verse 19… 

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the {servant, the Ammonite,/Ammonite official} and Geshem the {Arabian/Arab}, heard {it/all this/about it}, they {laughed us to scorn/mocked us/derided us}, and {despised/expressed contempt toward/ridiculed} us, and said,  

What is this thing {that ye do/you are doing}?  

{will ye rebel/Are you rebelling} against the king? 

20 {Then/So} answered I them, and said unto them,  

The God of heaven, {he will prosper us/will give us success};  

therefore we his servants will {arise and build/start the rebuilding}:  

but {ye/as for you, you} have no {portion, nor right, nor memorial, in/just or ancient right in/claim or historic right to} Jerusalem. 

The Opposition 

So, what is the opposition doing now? They’re not just grieved or displeased emotionally. Now they’re scorning and laughing at God’s people and God’s work. They’re mocking with the intention of discouraging Nehemiah and his co-workers. And they’re even insinuating that what Nehemiah is doing is wrong – it’s rebellion against the king! 

And did you notice that the list of enemies has increased? We saw the familiar names Sanballat and Tobiah. But now there’s this new character – Geshem the Arab! So, the opposition is both intensifying in nature and increasing in number. 

The Response of God’s People 

Well, what’s Nehemiah’s response? Note that before the intimidation from the enemies, Nehemiah was communicating the great need that he and his fellow-Jews had. He put before their eyes the great danger they were in and how they were in a humiliating condition. 

But then he gave them a picture of what things could be like if they followed the Lord and did his will of rebuilding those walls. Nehemiah related to the people God’s providential support of their work – both directly and even as mediated through the ungodly human Persian king that Nehemiah served! And the result was that Nehemiah strengthened the hands of the workers. 

And even after the enemies tried to discourage him and his people, Nehemiah remained undaunted. He communicated his rock-solid faith that God would be with them to help them as they obediently and faithfully served him in this endeavor. 


So, may the Lord help us to face with an undaunted determination any opposition we might experience as we try to do God’s will. Let’s remember the ways in which the Lord’s hand has been so clearly displayed in our lives bringing us to this point. And let’s endeavor to strengthen each other to do the work that God has for us. 

How Many Children Did Hannah Have?

So, you’re asking yourself “How many children did Hannah have?” Yes – the Hannah from the Bible. How many children did she bear in her life time?

How Many Children Did Hannah Have? It’s complicated…

The answer is a little complicated.

Are you asking how many children Hannah had when she was first married (0)?

Or how many children she had when her first son was born (1, of course!)?

Or do you want to know how many children she finally had with her husband at the end of her life (6 total)?

So, I think when most people ask “How Many Children did Hannah have?” they’re really looking for that final number. Hannah had six (6) children by the end of her life.

But if you’re curious as to the details, let’s explore those now!

Where Hannah’s Mentioned in the Bible

References to this woman – Hannah – are found in the Old Testament only.

And within the Old Testament, she appears only in the first and second chapters of the book of 1 Samuel.

Hannah Was One of Two Wives of One Man

According to 1 Samuel 1:1-2 she was one of two wives of a man named Elkanah. He lived in a city called Ramathaim Zophim (or – for short – Ramah). That was in the hill country of the Israelite tribe Ephraim.

In case you’re curious, Hannah’s “co-wife” (weird, I know, but not unheard of in the ancient Near East!) was named Peninah. And she wasn’t very nice to Hannah.

Hannah Had No Children At First

Anyway, since we’re trying to figure out how many children Hannah had – we need to start off by saying that she had none.

Peninah had some (we don’t know how many – but according to 1 Samuel 1:4 she had “sons and daughters”).

But Hannah? She was barren. That’s what 1 Samuel 1:2 tells us.

Hannah Was More Loved

And even though Hannah may have been thought of as “less productive” in her agrarian society – Elkanah loved her very much according to 1 Samuel 1:5 – probably more so than he loved the “fertile” – but rather unkind – Peninah.

Hannah Was Hated by Peninah

And this wicked Peninah would make life miserable for Hannah by mocking her for not being able to have children (1 Samuel 1:7).

Elkanah Tried in Vain to Comfort Hannah

Elkanah would try in vain to comfort Hannah – who had no children at this point (1 Samuel 1:8).

Hannah Seeks Comfort from the Lord

So, Hannah prayed in the Tabernacle in Shiloh (before it was in Jerusalem!) one day for a son (1 Samuel 1:9). She prayed so desperately and fervently that Eli – the priest – thought she was drunk! When he discovered that she was just praying with great vigor, he blessed her.

Hannah Had One Son – Samuel!

She went back home to Ramah with Elkanah. They had marital relations. And the Lord gave her a son named Samuel.

So far then Hannah has one child – a son.

Hannah Gives Up Samuel

Then Hannah and Elkanah brought Samuel back to Shiloh eventually to have him serve the Lord in the Tabernacle there.

It’s there that Hannah breaks into poetic verse and denounces the wicked Peninah indirectly. After that, we interestingly never hear about Peninah again.

Did Hannah Have Seven Children?

Hannah also declared in 1 Samuel 2:5 that the barren woman bears seven children. That’s not to say that she herself actually had seven children – it seems that she’s just using a number to indicate completeness and wholeness – entirety – satisfaction, etc.

Eli Prays that Hannah Would Have More Children

But later on in 1 Samuel 2 we’re told that Hannah and Elkanah would come up to Shiloh to worship the Lord every year. On one such occasion, Eli the priest blesses them and prays that the Lord would give them more children. And that’s just what the Lord did! He caused Hannah to bear three sons and two daughters!

Hannah Ends Up with Six Children Total

So, that’s six children that Hannah ended up bearing, counting Samuel. That’s one less than the seven that she mentioned in her poem. And yet – it’s six more than she had in the beginning. All through God’s gracious actions on her behalf!

And Most Importantly…

One of Hannah’s six children – Samuel – would be used – as she says in 1 Samuel 2:10 – to strengthen the Lord’s king and exalt the power of the Lord’s Anointed.

That is – David – the coming King of Israel in Hannah’s day. And the future ancestor of God’s ultimate Anointed – Jesus Christ.

When did David originally promise Bathsheba that Solomon would be king?

We read in 1 Kings 1:13 that David had sworn to Bathsheba that Solomon would be king after him. Where do we see this promise origially being made?

In 1 Chronicles 28 we are given the account of David assembling the officials and telling them that Solomon will be the one to rule after him and the one to build the temple for the Lord and they anoint Solomon again as king. In 1 Kings 1:13, he asssures Bathsheba that he will rule, but it is after Nathan speaks that he calls Bathsheba back and tells her that he will make Solomon king that very day. And by David’s command, Solomon is proclaimed and annointed king.

How many more children did Hannah have after Samuel?

I Samuel 2:21 says,

“And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the Lord.”

So, Hannah had five children after Samuel. 

See also https://www.explainingthebook.com/how-many-children-did-hannah-have/ for a fuller answer to the question, “How many children did Hannah have?”

Ruth 4 Commentary Summary Sermon

We continue in our Ruth 4 commentary…

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verses 1 – 2

4:1 ¶ Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by;

So, this is the guy who is more closely related to Naomi and Ruth.

unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here.

This guy never has his name given. Actually, the only way he’s identified is this appellation “Such a One”. In Hebrew it sounds kind of funny – Peloni Almoni. It just means “a certain someone.” He’s just anonymous. And we’ll see why he remains anonymous. He’s not all that noble.

And he turned aside, and sat down. 2 And he took ten men of the elders of the city, and said, Sit ye down here. And they sat down.

I enjoy reading Boaz’s command of the situation. He says to Peloni Almoni – “sit” and he sits. Boaz gets some witnesses and commands them to sit. They do so immediately. He’s not being bossy or domineering. He’s just getting things done.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verses 3 – 4

3 And he said unto the kinsman, Naomi, that is come again out of the country of Moab, selleth a parcel of land, which was our brother Elimelech’s: 4 And I thought to advertise thee [Or “alert you”], saying, Buy it before the inhabitants, and before the elders of my people. If thou wilt redeem it, redeem it: but if thou wilt not redeem it, then tell me, that I may know: for there is none to redeem it beside thee; and I am after thee.

Moment of truth – will Ruth get to marry the godly Boaz? Or does she have to marry Peloni Almoni / the anonymous certain someone?

And he said, I will redeem it.

Well, that’s a little disappointing. But wait. Peloni Almoni wants the land. But Boaz hasn’t mentioned Ruth yet.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verse 5

5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead,

If you want the land, you need to take the Moabite woman whose husband would have owned it.

to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance.

OK – Is he still interested?

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verse 6

6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

Is Peloni telling the truth? How would marrying Ruth mar or jeopardize his inheritance? If Peloni raised up a son for Ruth, that son would inherit the property of Mahlon. He wouldn’t have to take anything that Peloni had. So, I’m thinking that he’s not being real honest. And I think this is one big reason that we aren’t given his name. He’s not ready to selflessly care for the widow of the deceased and carry out God’s will in respect to raising up a son to inherit that land. So, shame on him. But actually, I’m kind of happy that Boaz gets to marry Ruth now!

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verse 7

7 ¶ Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

So, this tells us that this story was written a while after it actually happened. The narrator has to explain a custom in Israel that would have been familiar to the characters.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verses 8 – 12

8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe. 9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. 10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day. 11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses.

And then they go on to speak really highly of what they desire to see the Lord do with this marriage.

The LORD make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Bethlehem: 12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.

So, the elders and all those in the gate call to mind these great folks of Israel’s past. They want Ruth to become like Rachel and Leah. Well, there were some things that weren’t so great about their lives. However, the people in the gate don’t talk about the mandarins or the household idol incidents. They point to the fact that they built the house of Israel. That’s what they’d like to see happen with Ruth. And Tamar and Judah is a pretty strange story. Judah wasn’t concerned to give his son to Tamar as a husband to do just what Boaz was going to do with Ruth – raise a son to inherit his dead father’s possessions. But no matter how strange that story was, God worked it for good. The result was Perez, who was a father to the tribe of Judah.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verse 13

13 ¶ So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

By the way, let this sink in. Ruth was married to Mahlon something like 10 years. And she didn’t have a single child. I’m thinking that she was barren. And that’s why the narrator here mentions that it was the Lord himself who gave her conception – the ability to conceive – and ability that she apparently didn’t have before.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verses 14 – 17

14 And the women said unto Naomi,

Not necessarily to Ruth – to Naomi

Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman,

This child that Ruth bore.

that his name may be famous in Israel. 15 And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. 16 And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. 17 And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed:

The name “Obed” seems to come from the word meaning “servant”. In other words, he’d lovingly serve his grandmother in her old age.

he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Well, that’s a pretty uplifting story. But we’re not done just yet. We finish this book with a genealogy. You probably don’t think that’s very exciting. Well, you might by the time we’re finished. This genealogy has a purpose.

Ruth 4 Commentary: Verses 18 – 22

18 ¶ Now these are the generations of Pharez:

Remember? The one born into some pretty weird circumstances. Well, despite that, he makes it into this genealogy.

Pharez begat Hezron, 19 And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, 20 And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, 21 And Salmon begat Boaz,

Do you remember whom Salmon married? Matthew 1:5 tells us that Salmon was the father of Boaz by… Rahab. You wonder if Rahab was a good mother? Well, we’ve seen the character of her son Boaz, haven’t we?

and Boaz begat Obed, 22 And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.

And David will be king. The king that Israel has needed all throughout the book of Judges. The king who will lead God’s people to do right in his eyes. The king who was promised way back in the book of Genesis. The days of the Judges were dark. But the Lord preserved his godly ones and in particular the line of his chosen king through it all.

Ruth 3 Commentary Meaning Summary Sermon

Ruth 3 Commentary: When we open to the 3rd chapter of the book of Ruth we’re coming into the middle of several story lines in the Bible.

Story of Ruth

First – obviously – we’re landing in the middle of the book of Ruth. We studied the first two chapters already. And in those chapters we saw the godly man from Bethlehem named Boaz being very kind and gracious to a Moabite named Ruth. And if that’s all that you knew, you might be a little confused. After all, Israelites weren’t supposed to let Moabites into their assembly. Ah, but Ruth is different. She parted ways with her idols a while ago. She now trusts the true God of Israel.

But how did that happen? How did Ruth hear about this God of Israel? From a family from Bethlehem, actually. There was a famine in the land of Israel and they decided to go to godless Moab. And – whether it was a punishment from God or not –the father of that family died in Moab. Then – without the family leader – the two boys married Moabite women. And again those boys died, leaving their Moabite spouses – Ruth and Orpah – and their mother Naomi. Naomi tells the girls to go home. Orpah does but Ruth refuses. And that’s where we heard of Ruth’s confession of allegiance to the Lord.

Days of the Judges

Now, all of these events happened when? In the days of…? In the days of the Judges. So, secondly, when we enter Ruth 3 we enter into the midst of the days during which the form of Israelite government was this system of tribal rulers whom we know as “judges”. And how was the spiritual atmosphere overall in the days of the judges? Not good. Things were going from bad to worse. Israel was supposed to drive out the idolatrous foreigners from the land that the Lord gave them. Instead, the people intermarried with the idolaters and even worshiped their false deities. So, in light of the very dark days in which the book of Ruth takes place – what we see of Boaz’s righteousness and of Ruth’s loyalty – these things are very encouraging to us. God was preserving righteous people even in the dark days of the judges.

Looking for a King

But the book of Judges not only left us with real concern for the spiritual state of the nation of Israel – it also left us with a good deal of anticipation for a king. A king who would lead the people to do right – not in their own eyes – but in the eyes of the Lord. So, we enter the book of Ruth and the 3rd chapter looking for a king.

And this expectation of a king over Israel wasn’t new to the book of Judges or the book of Ruth. The Hebrews had reason to believe that they would have a king all the way back in the Law. Deuteronomy 17:15 tells the Israelites that they will have a king appointed over them by the Lord himself. But the promise of a king goes even farther back than that. Balaam – when he was trying to curse Israel – actually prophesied that they would have a king. And even before that – in Genesis 17 God tells Abraham that kings will come forth from him and his wife Sarah. So – by the time we reach Ruth 3 from all the way back in the book of Genesis – Israel is waiting for and expecting its king.

Ruth 3 Commentary: Verses 1 – 5

So with that background in mind, let’s start reading Ruth 3:1.

KJV Ruth 3:1 ¶ Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? 2 And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. 3 Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. 4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do. 5 And she said unto her, All that thou sayest unto me I will do.

Now, what is Naomi instructing Ruth to do here? Naomi tells her to put on some perfume, put on some clothing and go to the threshing floor and meet Boaz. The reference to putting on clothing might indicate that Ruth had up to this point been wearing clothing typical of one who was mourning. Why would Ruth be mourning? Remember – her husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law had all died. And her brother-in-law and husband had died fairly recently. So, Ruth was probably still wearing clothing that indicated her sorrow over these events. Naomi tells her – now’s the time to change those clothes.

Naomi tells Ruth to watch where Boaz goes after he’s full from supper. After he lays down and goes to sleep, Ruth needs to go over there and uncover his feet and lie down. And Naomi is confident that Boaz will have further instructions from that point.

Now, we need to talk about how some people interpret these instructions that Naomi gave to Ruth. There are some who actually think that Naomi is counseling Ruth to be immoral – or at least to act like an immoral woman. They say that this kind of activity was typical of ancient prostitutes. During times of harvest the men would often sleep with their grain. These prostitutes would come by and offer their services and in return get some grain. The fact that Ruth is told to uncover Boaz’s feet is pointed to as proof that this is indeed what’s happening here. The terms “foot” and “feet” in the Old Testament are sometimes used as a euphemism for the reproductive organs. So, according to this view, Naomi is basically counseling Ruth to play the part of an immoral woman.

But if that is indeed what’s happening, it would be astounding. It would fly in the face of what we’ve seen of the characters thus far. Boaz is an extremely godly man. Are we supposed to believe that Naomi would actually think that he’d be the kind to accept an invitation to participate in immorality? Naomi has flaws – and we had reason to wonder about her spirituality especially when her family went to Moab. But the rest of what we see from her seems above-board. And Ruth – she’s done nothing but good. She’s forsaken her false gods, shown flawless loyalty to her mother-in-law – AND SHE DIDN’T NEED TO! She’s been a hard worker in the fields. If Naomi is truly telling Ruth to look for and offer an illicit sexual encounter with Boaz it would be a total shock to all of us. And it should be – because that’s not what the narrator has led us to expect from any of these people. We could expect this kind of behavior in the book of Judges. But not in the book of Ruth. So, the way that the characters are portrayed in this book would make us think that Naomi isn’t telling Ruth to be immoral.

But also – what is Naomi’s motivation? Her stated motivation is that she would seek rest for Ruth, so that it may be well with her. Naomi then has no intention of some kind of romantic fling for Ruth. Naomi wants Ruth taken care of. Naomi has this in her heart for Ruth. Remember back in the first chapter – Naomi desired that each of her daughters-in-law would get married and find REST in the house of their husbands. And that’s the same concern she still has for Ruth. That she’d find rest in the house of – in this case – Boaz. Therefore, Naomi wants Ruth to see if Boaz will marry her.

Well, you might think it’s a little strange that Naomi is advising Ruth to approach Boaz and basically propose to him. In our culture it’s pretty typical that men approach women when proposing marriage – and probably not very often the other way around – the woman proposing to the man.

On top of that – you might also wonder why Naomi would think that Boaz would marry Ruth in the first place. Is there some sort of cultural expectation that would strongly influence Boaz in that direction?

So, let’s talk about the cultural expectations in the days of Boaz and Ruth. We’ve seen before this concern that the Lord had for the individual Israelite tribes to retain their land inheritance. He didn’t want land changing hands permanently. If you’re an Old Testament Hebrew and your family has rights to a piece of land, that piece of land needs to stay in your family. I’ll just remind us of an example of this. Remember wicked king Ahab and Naboth? Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard. It didn’t seem to be a big deal. It was just a little vineyard. The king was prepared to pay Naboth the going rate for land in those days. But Naboth refused to sell his land. And it was because of this concern that land remain in the hands of those families who inherited it back in the days of Joshua.

Now, there are a number of threats to the land remaining within the tribes of Israel. The only one we’ll explore is where all the men in that particular family die. Men would have been the landowners. If all the men in a family die and have no sons to take their place, the land basically ends up belonging to others families within that tribe or it might even fall to others in other tribes as the women marry other men.

Well, God anticipated this issue. And so he commanded back in the Law that if brothers live together and one dies without leaving an heir to the land then the brother needs to marry his brother’s widow and raise up a child to inherit his father’s property. So, then that child will grow and he’ll take charge of that property. And the land will remain with that family.

Now, to whom was Ruth married? Mahlon. What happened to him? He died. So his brother Chilion would be next in line to marry Ruth and raise up a boy to inherit the land. But what happened to Chilion? Yeah, he died, too. What happens then? You’re basically looking for the next of kin. And what is the rhetorical question Naomi asks Ruth? “Is not Boaz our kinsman?” Our next of kin? In other words – “the man who’s next in line legally to marry you and raise up a son to inherit our land?”

OK, so the question is – is there some cultural obligation that Boaz might have to marry Ruth? The answer? Yes. At least someone in Elimelech’s family needs to perform this duty. And to this point we’re led to believe that that someone is Boaz. And let me say this without intending to be too silly – Boaz is quite a catch. Really. He’s a seriously godly man. And there are a lot of men to whom Ruth might be married in the dark days of the Judges that would be really really wicked. Both Naomi and Ruth would have been very glad that he seems to be the next in line to fulfill this obligation.

And Naomi has full confidence in Boaz. She tells Ruth to go to him. And when she does go, he will tell her what to do next.

But why the secrecy? And if Boaz is so godly and would know about this cultural expectation that he’d marry Ruth, why does she need to go to him? Why doesn’t he come to her?

Here’s my reconstruction of what’s happening. Naomi knows – or at least she thinks that she knows – that Boaz is the next in line to marry Ruth. But Boaz hasn’t made any advances in that area. Why? I thought he was godly. He is godly – but I think at least one thing would have been hindering him from making any advance. Do you remember where Naomi tells Ruth to put on clothes in verse 3? It’s not that she didn’t have any on. But rather I think she may have still had her mourning garments on her. It’s not very common for us to express our mourning the loss of our loved ones by the clothing we wear. But it happened in ancient Israel. And I’m supposing that the kind of clothes that Ruth was wearing indicated to all that she was still mourning the loss of her husband. Boaz would have seen that and known to not pursue anything while that was the case.

Ruth 3 Commentary: Verses 6 – 18

And there’s actually another reason Boaz didn’t pursue his obligations to Ruth that we’ll learn in the next scene. So let’s start reading that scene in verse 6.

6 ¶ And she went down unto the floor, and did according to all that her mother in law bade her. 7 And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn [or grain]: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down. [Now, let’s think about this. She uncovers his feet. And some commentators think that this is a reference to something sexual. I really don’t think that’s the case and I’ve explained why already. So, we’ve explained what this gesture of Ruth’s wasn’t intended to do. But positively, what was it meant to accomplish? Verse 8.] 8 And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, [Or “startled”. And in order to be startled, a man would need to be awake. And what wakes a man from sleep better than uncovering his feet and exposing them to the increasing cool of the surrounding night air? That’s – I believe – why Ruth uncovered his feet. To wake him up eventually, but not right away. Try it at home some time with your spouse – at your own peril.] and turned himself: and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. 9 And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. [So, basically, there’s the proposal. Boaz should marry Ruth because he’s a near kinsman. How does he respond? Verse 10.] 10 And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: [Notice that he doesn’t rebuke her for any supposed immoral intentions. Neither do we witness them involved in any form of immorality. He blesses her. This was apparently a good thing that she did. Why? Keep reading.] for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, [How’s that?] inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich. [Which indicates that Boaz was likely an older man.] 11 And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman. [So, Boaz encourages Ruth’s boldness. But he has some news for her. And this news explains why he seemed to be slow in acting on his obligation to marry Ruth.] 12 And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. [So, I’m thinking that Boaz was waiting on this other guy to act. But he hasn’t so far.] 13 Tarry this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman’s part: but if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then will I do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the LORD liveth: lie down until the morning. [Again, I’m impressed with Boaz’s selflessness. He’s willing to obey the Lord and marry Ruth. From what he says it sounds like he’d be very happy to do that. But he also knows that there’s someone closer to Ruth and Naomi than he is. So, Boaz plays by the rules and wants to give this other guy an opportunity to marry Ruth and inherit the land of Elimelech.]

14 ¶ And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. [It was still so dark that no one would know who was there or not.] And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. 15 Also he said, Bring the vail that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her: [Again, Boaz’s lavish kindness.] and she went into the city. 16 And when she came to her mother in law, she said, Who art thou, my daughter? [Obviously Naomi knows Ruth’s identity. One commentator suggested that Naomi is asking something akin to “Whose wife are you?”] And she told her all that the man had done to her. 17 And she said, These six measures of barley gave he me; for he said to me, Go not empty unto thy mother in law. [So not only would Boaz make a godly husband, he also seems to be a future mother-in-law’s dream come true – being concerned for even her.] 18 Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day. [Which is a great segue into the next scene. 4:1.]

Ruth 2 Commentary Sermon Bible Study Summary

We continue in our Ruth 2 commentary…

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 1

2:1 ¶ And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz.

Alright, so with 2:1 we have the end of the introductory material. Now we get to the action. But first, let’s not pass over some of the details we just saw. Our time frame is the beginning of the harvest time for barley. This would have been in the Spring. And also we need to note that Naomi had a kinsman, a relative. He’s a mighty man of wealth – a GIBOR CHAYIL. And you probably don’t know it, but this phrase was used in the book of Judges a few times. Yeah, it was used of Gideon and Jephthah. So, we’re kind of left wondering – is Boaz going to be like these men? Someone who has great potential but ultimately disappoints? We’ll see.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 2

And with all that background out of the way, with Noami and Ruth in Bethlehem, with Boaz as a kinsman of Elimelech, Ruth decides it’s time to get out of the house and help provide for herself and her mother-in-law. Verse 2.

2 And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.

So, Ruth’s just going to go somewhere – anywhere – where she can find some grace – someone to help her and allow her to glean some crops.

Gleaning crops during harvest time was anticipated by the Law of Moses. It’s harvest time around here in Wisconsin. And you see fields that once were filled with corn or beans. And now they’re basically bare. You might see a few stalks here and there left by these modern harvesters. But there isn’t much left by the end. Things were different in ancient Israel. The reaping was done by hand or perhaps with smaller hand tools – perhaps with animals. But no matter how efficient the reapers could be, what God desired and commanded was that Israelite farmers wouldn’t harvest everything in their field. They need to leave some. Why? Because he wanted the poor and needy in the land to be able to come to these fields and sustain themselves. They would come and glean the fields for leftover crops. So, Ruth knew this was available to her, so she goes and does it. Verse 3.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 3

3 And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: [So she just comes to some field] and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

What a chance happening! Ruth just happens to come across Boaz’s field. Boaz – the kinsman of Elimelech. No, it wasn’t a chance happening. God was in it. But, to all human actors involved, this wasn’t pre-meditated. It wasn’t planned. It just… happened. Providentially.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 4

Now, we’re still wondering what kind of man Boaz is. Is he a Gideon? Is he like Jephthah? Verse 4.

4 And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, [Out to his fields, which were outside of the city] and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee.

I think of our men who work in the world. What would you think if your boss came in tomorrow morning and said, “The Lord be with you, brothers” and he said it to all of the employees? It would be a shock. I think even for those of us who work in ministries, it would be almost a little surprising to hear this kind of thing from our bosses. But here comes Boaz – in a day when lawlessness reigned, when everyone was doing right in their own eyes. He comes and blesses his workers in the name of the Lord. And so then he checks up on things in his field. Verse 5.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 5 – 7

5 Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, Whose damsel is this? 6 And the servant that was set over the reapers answered and said, It is the Moabitish damsel that came back with Naomi out of the country of Moab: 7 And she said, I pray you, let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves: so she came, and hath continued even from the morning until now, that she tarried a little in the house.

How would Boaz react to this news? Verse 8.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 8 and 9

8 ¶ Then said Boaz unto Ruth, Hearest thou not, my daughter? [Or, “Hear this!”] Go not to glean in another field, neither go from hence, but abide here fast by my maidens: 9 Let thine eyes be on the field that they do reap, and go thou after them: have I not charged the young men that they shall not touch thee? and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.

Boaz didn’t have to be so kind to Ruth. And at this point I really don’t think there’s any romantic interest. Boaz is being abundantly kind to Ruth without any ulterior motives. He’s providing safety for her. He’s providing her food. He’s making her feel included among his servants. What kind of reaction does that elicit in Ruth? Verse 10.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 10 – 12

10 Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? [I’m not an Isralite. I’m a foreigner from a pagan nation.]

11 And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. [In other words, “I’m showing you a level of kindness that I hope matches and even exceeds the kindness you’ve shown to my relative Naomi.”] 12 The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.

That’s a beautiful statement. Ruth is seeking refuge under the protecting comforting wings of the Lord. And so Boaz would like to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands to repay Ruth for the kindness and selflessness that she’s shown to Naomi. So, faced with such kindness, such loyalty, such righteousness, what can Ruth say? Verse 13.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 13

13 Then she said, Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid, though I be not like unto one of thine handmaidens.

And Boaz isn’t finished with his effusive lavish kindness to Ruth. Verse 14.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 14 – 16

14 ¶ And Boaz said unto her, At mealtime [Probably lunch] come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her [Or “served her”] parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.

15 And when she was risen up to glean [After lunch], Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: 16 And let fall also some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave them, that she may glean them, and rebuke her not.

So, “give her more than just the gleanings. Basically, just let her take whatever she wants.” Can you imagine how Ruth would have taken in this whole situation? How grateful she would have been. Verse 17.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verses 17 – 22

17 ¶ So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley. [I’ve been told that an ephah is about 5 gallons, by the way. So, basically, she got a lot of barley. Verse 18.]

18 And she took it up, and went into the city: and her mother in law saw what she had gleaned: and she brought forth, and gave to her that she had reserved after she was sufficed. 19 And her mother in law said unto her, Where hast thou gleaned to day? and where wroughtest thou? blessed be he that did take knowledge of thee. [It’s kind of hard to remember that what’s transpired so far in this chapter really amounts to only one day.] And she shewed her mother in law with whom she had wrought, and said, The man’s name with whom I wrought to day is Boaz. 20 And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness [His CHESED, his loyal love.] to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen. 21 And Ruth the Moabitess said, He said unto me also, Thou shalt keep fast by my young men, until they have ended all my harvest. 22 And Naomi said unto Ruth her daughter in law, It is good, my daughter, that thou go out with his maidens, that they meet thee not in any other field.

And, believe me, in the days of the Judges, Ruth could have come across some really unrighteous individuals in the fields of Israel. Remember the incident in Gibeah – a.k.a. “New Sodom”???

And finally verse 23 serves as conclusion to the second scene of the book.

Ruth 2 Commentary: Verse 23

23 So she kept fast by the maidens of Boaz to glean unto the end of barley harvest and of wheat harvest; and dwelt with her mother in law.

So, let’s just recap what we’ve seen from our characters so far.

We have Naomi. Her actions at the beginning were questionable at best. But she does seem to know the Lord and has apparently made him known to Ruth.

Ruth – originally a pagan Moabite – has come to take refuge under the wings of the Lord. She’s faithful to her mother-in-law. She’s a hard worker. A noble woman, though she’s poor. And apparently she had no children from her 10 year marriage to Mahlon.

Boaz is a wealthy man. He’s a righteous man – in the midst of a nation overrun by wickedness. He’s a faithful and loyal man in a nation where those two virtues were practiced only when they seemed right in the eyes of those who practiced them.

What a contrast, then, we have here to what we’ve seen in the book of Judges. The book of Ruth shows us that in the midst of chaos and disorder, the Lord was preserving righteous people. And not just righteous people in general – but in particular, the Lord was working to preserve the line of the coming king of Israel through very dark days.

We’ll see more of the development of this story – and actually finish it – in two weeks.

Ruth 1 Commentary

Ruth 1 Commentary: Hope for Bethlehem. Anticipation of a king. These two issues are addressed in the book of Ruth. So, let’s start reading Ruth 1:1.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 1 and 2

KJV Ruth 1:1 ¶ Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons. 2 And the name of the man was Elimelech, and the name of his wife Naomi, and the name of his two sons Mahlon and Chilion, Ephrathites of Bethlehemjudah. And they came into the country of Moab, and continued there.

It makes sense that the Lord would have been sending famines in the days of the Judges. Famine is one of the curses stipulated in the Mosaic Covenant for disobedience. And there was plenty of disobedience. So I imagine there was no lack of famines in the land in those days.

Now, we’re almost immediately told of this man from Bethlehem. His name is Elimelech. It means “My God is King.” But we’re led to question that assertion made by his name.

First, he’s from Bethlehem. And if you had just read the book of Judges you’re not predisposed to think highly of this city. Don’t let your mind go forward to prophecies of Messiah coming from Bethlehem or the beautiful Christmas songs that come to our mind when we think of Bethlehem. This city and the folks that come from it up to this point are pretty questionable at best.

Second, Elimelech goes to Moab – the homeland of the big fat king Eglon. Moab – the country that refused to help Israel enter the land promised to them – but rather they hired Balaam to curse Israel. And when Balaam couldn’t curse Israel by God, he advised the Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men and to commit immorality and idolatry. And because Moab was so malicious towards Israel, the Lord forbid any Moabite from ever entering the assembly of the Lord.

And this is the land to which Elimelech was taking his family. Not a very wholesome place. Not a place very conducive to godliness. And yet at the same time, I don’t want to be too hard on Elimelech. I mean, we saw in our last lesson in the book of Judges that Israel was becoming like a new Sodom under the Judges.

So, Elimelech weighs the two options – Godless Israel with no food… or Godless Moab with some food. He chose Moab. And because of that, I am still a bit suspicious. Did he do right? Should he have just stayed put in Israel? I think so, but I admit it would have been a hard decision to make.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 3 and 4

And for whatever reason, Elimelech wouldn’t be around very long to ponder the rightness of his decision. Verse 3.

3 And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. 4 And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years.

So, without the leadership of the husband and father of the family, the two sons take – gasp – Moabites as wives! Again, it was not too long ago that Moabite women tempted Israel to sin and brought God’s wrath upon them. So, this move, I think, is more than simply questionable. I’m pretty sure these boys ought not to do this. They made a bad move, according to God’s law. No Moabite was to enter the assembly of the Lord, after all. That’s a clear black-and-white statement from God. And I’m not sure if what we see next is God’s judgment on them or not. But, verse 5.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verse 5

5 And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.

What would you do if you moved hundreds of miles away from your tiny home village into a foreign country – and your whole family basically just died leaving you all alone? Naomi wants to go back home. Verse 6.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 6 and 7

6 ¶ Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread. 7 Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah.

So, with no male help – and with the news that God had stopped the famine that he previously sent on Israel – Naomi returns home. And her two daughters-in-law follow her. At least for a time. Then we have the conversation between Naomi and those two girls. Verse 8.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 8 and 9

8 And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me. 9 The LORD grant you that ye may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband. Then she kissed them; and they lifted up their voice, and wept.

So, Naomi is an interesting character. She goes to Moab – which, again, we might think would be something God didn’t want her to do. But she was simply following her husband. Then her boys take two foreign wives – which, again, we might think would be something God didn’t want them to do. But we don’t even know the part that she played in those marriages. The men die – and that might have been a judgment from the Lord for their disobedience. But he leaves Naomi. And we might start wondering about her spiritual character. She’s from despised little Bethlehem. In the days of those wacky judges. Forsaking her homeland and going to live among pagans. But look what she says in verse 9. She invokes a blessing of the Lord upon her two daughters-in-law. And this isn’t even reminiscent of the blessing we saw with Micah’s mother back in Judges. This blessing seems genuine. It seems spiritual. She wishes the Lord’s CHESED upon them – his faithful loyal covenant love. Why? Because they dealt kindly with Naomi and with her sons. So, there was at least some level of nobility and faithfulness with these two girls. Naomi then selflessly tells them to go back to their parents’ house and get married again. In those days it would have been normal for a single lady – whether she was never married or if she had been widowed – to return to her parents’ house. So, Naomi wants these two girls to be taken care of. But they’re all very sad about it. So, they weep. They also respond to her in verse 10.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 10 – 14

10 And they said unto her, Surely we will return with thee unto thy people. 11 And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? 12 Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons; 13 Would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me. 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

Initially, both girls say that they’ll stay with Naomi. In response Naomi launches into a discussion that shows how ridiculous that would be. She has no more children to give to them as husbands. They need to turn back to their people and find husbands for themselves.

It’s very interesting how Naomi interprets the events that we’ve seen thus far. She identifies the Lord’s chastening hand behind it all. I’m thinking that she’s seeing that her actions – and her husband’s and hey boys’ – have brought chastening from the Lord.

So, Orpah leaves. But Ruth stays. That makes Naomi respond to Ruth in verse 15.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verse 15

15 ¶ And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law.

Catch that – her gods… Would Ruth want to go back to her false evil pagan deities? Let’s hear her response from her own mouth. Verse 16.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 16 and 17

16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and [Here’s the key] thy God my God: 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

So, something happened there in Moab. I don’t know the spirituality of the three men who died. I’m a little more encouraged about the spirituality of Naomi. But through these Israelites living in Moab – which was probably wrong – and through their intermarrying with pagans – which was most certainly wrong – something happened to one of these pagans. To the point that she is willing to forsake her false gods and follow the true God of Naomi. In fact, she’s not just passively willing. She’s determined. Ruth is showing a great deal of loyalty – CHESED – already to her poor widowed mother-in-law. And I just have to wonder if that loyalty was sparked by faith in the true God of Israel. I think it was.

Well, with that bold response from Ruth, Naomi says no more. Verse 18.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verses 18 – 21

18 When she saw that she was stedfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her.

19 ¶ So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, [Remember, after at least 10 years of being in Moab…] that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? 20 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [Which means “pleasant”], call me Mara [Which means “bitter”]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi [“Pleasant”], seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

Wow. Naomi in no uncertain terms is attributing her series of unfortunate events to the Lord. He’s brought about a complete reversal for her. Her name means pleasant. But her life is anything but pleasant. It’s bitter. She went out full. Now she comes home empty. And she says that all of this is the Lord’s testifying against her. Whether she’s interpreting the situation correctly or not – I think what we see here is a guilty conscience. When you’re involved in things that you know from God’s word are wrong and life stops working the way it used to and things all of a sudden are very difficult and bitter – doesn’t your mind go immediately to wondering if the Lord himself is chastening you? Well, that’s because he probably is. And Naomi feels that.

Ruth 1 Commentary: Verse 22

Lastly, verse 22 is a summary of what we’ve seen so far.

22 ¶ So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest.

Judges Bible Summary

Judges Bible Summary: Leads to the Book of Ruth

As we prepare to study the biblical book of Ruth, let’s first make an attempt at a book of Judges summary. As we arrive at such a summary, I think what we encounter in the book of Ruth will be all the more encouraging.

Judges Bible Summary: Moses, Joshua, …?

So, Moses got Israel to the Jordan River. He dies, and Joshua takes over. Both Joshua and Moses lead the people righteously. Then Joshua dies. And who takes over for Joshua?… No one, really. Every tribe had their own leader here and there. They’re known to us as “Judges”.

Judges Bible Summary: Who Were the Judges?

And these Judges ranged in their quality, didn’t they?

Judges Bible Summary: Othniel

You had Othniel. Godly man. Gave a big deliverance to God’s people.

Judges Bible Summary: Ehud

Ehud. He was pretty good, too. But you had to kind of laugh and/or cringe at the details of how he did away with the big fat Eglon, king of Moab.

Judges Bible Summary: Barak

Then Barak was somewhat disappointing. He really didn’t seem to take the lead he should have taken.

Judges Bible Summary: Gideon

Then Gideon is even worse. Father was an idolater. Gideon was a fearful, nearly-faithless man. He showed some real brutal tendencies. And in the end, he made an object that Israel used as an idol. Plus, his boy Abimelech was nothing but brutal and ruthless – “serving” (if you can use that term) as Israel’s first king.

Judges Bible Summary: Jephtah

Jepthtah’s next. Son of a prostitute. Driven out of the land by his siblings. He ends up sacrificing his own daughter due to his rash oath.

Judges Bible Summary: Samson

And the last judge – Samson. Selfish to the core. Delivering Israel from their enemies only when it served his own piddly self-centered purposes. He lives with the enemies. Dies with the enemies. We do see him pray to the Lord. Once he prays for water. The other time he prays for revenge for the enemies poking out his eyes.

Judges Bible Summary: By Faith…

The good things that these guys did manage to do was all done through faith, as Hebrews tells us. How else do you explain any measure of success that these kinds of men had – especially the last four of them?

Judges Bible Summary: National Failures

We also saw the state of the nation as a whole. They start the book by failing to drive out the Canaanites militarily. Then we discover that the people failed because they weren’t listening to God. They were actually intermarrying with these pagans.

Judges Bible Summary: No King!

Then the book of Judges ended with the nation spiraling out of control. Adultery, idolatry, sexual violence, murder, theft – all these and more were found in Israel in the days of the Judges. Why? Well, the narrator wants us to know that all these things were happening because Israel had no king. No one to lead them to do right in the Lord’s eyes. So, without a king, Israel was doing only what was right in their own eyes.

Judges Bible Summary: Bethlehem

Now, much of the ending of the book of Judges took place in or around or involving the city of Bethlehem. The idolatrous Levite who served as a priest to Micah and then to the tribe of Dan was from Bethlehem. The adulterous concubine who cheated on her Levite husband and then died at the hands of perverted men in Gibeah was from Bethlehem. Is there any hope for this tiny city in Judah?

Judges Bible Summary: Next Up — Ruth!

And – more importantly – what about that king that the writer of Judges led us to anticipate?

So, hope for Bethlehem. Anticipation of a king. These two issues are addressed in this book that we’ll be studying for this lesson and the one in two weeks.

Judges 19 Commentary

Open your Bible to Judges chapter 19. We’ll be finishing the book of Judges today.

We’re going to see the climax of Israel’s Canaanization in this lesson. And it’s not pretty. Verse 1 of Judges 19.

KJV Judges 19:1 ¶ And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel,

No one to restrain the people. No one to lead them to do right in God’s eyes. When that was the case…

that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah.

Now, we saw in our last lesson a Levite from Bethlehem. This one is from Ephraim. His concubine is from Bethlehem.

2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months.

So, we’re informed of the concubine’s character — she commits adultery against her husband the Levite.

3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, and to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of [donkeys]:

So he apparently wants her back.

and she brought him into her father’s house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. 4 And his father in law, the damsel’s father, retained him; and he abode with him three days: so they did eat and drink, and lodged there.

Notice the hospitality of this concubine’s father. What we’re going to see for the next several verses is this father-in-law of the Levite making pretty lavish accommodations for his son-in-law. And we’ll contrast that to the in-hospitality of a certain group later on.

5 And it came to pass on the fourth day, when they arose early in the morning, that he [The Levite] rose up to depart: and the damsel’s father said unto his son in law, Comfort thine heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way. 6 And they sat down, and did eat and drink both of them together: for the damsel’s father had said unto the man, Be content, I pray thee, and tarry all night, and let thine heart be merry. 7 And when the man rose up to depart, his father in law urged him: therefore he lodged there again.

8 And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart: and the damsel’s father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them. 9 And when the man rose up to depart, he, and his concubine, and his servant, his father in law, the damsel’s father, said unto him, Behold, now the day draweth toward evening, I pray you tarry all night: behold, the day groweth to an end, lodge here, that thine heart may be merry; and to morrow get you early on your way, that thou mayest go home.

10 ¶ But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem; and there were with him two [donkeys] saddled, his concubine also was with him. 11And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent;

Which wasn’t safe when you’re traveling in ancient Israel.

and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray thee, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it. 12 And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.

I’m not sure that the Levites’ concerns are unwarranted. Canaanites were known for their paganism and evil practices. This Levite was not comfortable lodging amongst those kinds of people. So, on they go to find an Israelite city where the people would be doing right.

13 And he said unto his servant, Come, and let us draw near to one of these places to lodge all night, in Gibeah, or in Ramah. 14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them when they were by Gibeah, which belongeth to Benjamin. 15 And they turned aside thither, to go in and to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for there was no man that took them into his house to lodging.

So, the hospitality of the people of Gibeah left much to be desired. Boy, even in Sodom, the visiting angels found Lot to take them in. This Levite can’t find anyone. At least, anyone from Benjamin.

16 ¶ And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou? 18 And he [The Levite] said unto him, We are passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence am I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I am now going to the house of the LORD; and there is no man that receiveth me to house. 19 Yet there is both straw and provender [Fodder/food] for our [donkeys]; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.

So the Levite wouldn’t have been a burden to whomever might take them in. They had everything they needed. Yet, no one in Gibeah showed them any hospitality.

20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street. 21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the [donkeys]: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

So, this emigrant from Ephraim – this old man – is the only one to show kindness to these folks from this whole city. What a testimony to the coldness of the men of Gibeah. And it gets worse.

22 ¶ Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, [Or worthless men] beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

Now, this is where terror should set in. We’re in Judges chapter 19. But what we’re hearing reminds me more of Genesis chapter 19. The story of Sodom. Gibeah – in this brave new Israel where everyone does whatever he thinks is right – has basically become New Sodom.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. 24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you:

Or literally “the thing that’s good in your eyes.” Which is what everyone was doing anyway.

but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

Now, in the story of Sodom it was right at this point where the angels struck the men of the city with blindness. But that doesn’t happen here. God is noticeably absent.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man [The Levite] took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. 26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.

27 ¶ And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. 28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered.

The actions of the sexually perverted mob was shocking. But the coldness of this Levite is almost worse. You mean to say he slept comfortably through the night, knowing what was happening to his concubine? And then he just barks at her to get up when he sees her lifeless body?

Then the man took her up upon [a donkey], and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. 29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

And dwelling on the process that would have been involved in the dividing of this body is a little more than I care to meditate upon. So, we’ll move on.

30 And it was so, that all that saw it [The pieces of the concubine’s body] said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.

Basically, Israel is doing to Benjamin what it should have been doing to the Canaanites – destroy every last one of them.

Now, Israel had to do what they just did to Benjamin. But what a sad state of affairs that led to the need to almost completely wipe out an entire tribe in Israel.