Day 89: Israel's Cycle of Disobedience

The Book of Judges

Author and Date:

Judges continues the history of Israel compiled by the sacred writers of the Deuteronomic tradition. Its present form was edited from several written and oral traditions in the sixth century B.C.


During the Babylonian Exile and its aftermath, the sacred writers and prophets were emphatic in teaching the people that the hardships that they had emphasizes God’s frequent intervention to save Israel from its oppressors and from its own transgressions, a message intended for the people living in a foreign land during the Babylonian exile. 

Main Themes:

The theological lessons of the Deuteronomic history were intended for the people of the exilic and post-exilic period as part of a concerted effort to restore and rebuild the People of God through a renewed commitment to the covenant. 

Judges stand as a call to faithfulness to the covenant. In Judges we see a cycle of fidelity, sin, punishment, and then forgiveness and restoration by God. The judges stood as God’s representatives to remind his people of their obligations under the covenant, even though the judges themselves were not always faithful. God is All-just but he is also All-merciful as he deals with his people patiently and draws them back to himself continuously.

The Book of Ruth

Author and Date:

 Ruth is not part of the Deuteronomic history but appears among them in many versions of The Bible because it is set “in the days when the judges ruled” (Ruth 1:1). Its anonymous author composed the book of Judah during the sixth to fourth centuries BC while Judah was part of the Persian Empire. 


The people of Israel in the post-exilic period.

Main Themes:

Much of Israel’s history in the Old Testament was marked with concerns about maintaining the true faith and worship despite the constant presence and influence of pagan cultures. Intermarriage between Jews and nonbelievers was usually discouraged out of fear that the Gentile would dilute the faith of the Jewish spouse. In fact, syncretistic practices-incorporating paganism with Judaism-occured often throughout their history. The concern for maintaining ritual purity sometimes led to a rejection of many mingling whatsoever between Jews and Gentiles.

Although the intermarriage of Jews and Gentiles was at times problematic, the story of Ruth demonstrates that it was not necessarily a threat to Jewish identity and, in fact, could serve as a vehicle through which God can carry out his sacred plans. Ruth, a Moabite woman who married a Jewish husband and was later widowed, showed great virtue in her friendship and loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi, by returning with her from Moab to Bethlehm and supporting her. Thus, Ruth not only joined the Jewish people but she also eventually became the GREAT-GRANDMOTHER OF David, the great King of Israel (cf. 4:13-22), which is why she is remembered in the genealogy of JESUS CHRIST in the New Testament (cf. Mt 1:5).

The story of Ruth provides an early sign of the expansion of the People of God to include ALL NATIONS, Jew and Gentile, so every person may be called to faith and salvation in Christ. Anyone who draws near to the Church can become a member through BAPTISM and can find redemption, in keeping with Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

Another theme in Ruth is that of the subtle workings of divine Providence. While God is not credited directly for the unfolding of events, the narrative shows that the seeming coincidences are really God’s action as he works his will in hidden, unseen ways.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Judges 1-21 This book tells the story of the early years of Israel’s settlement in the Promised Land. It portrays the conquest of the land as involving more warfare than what is recorded in the Book of Joshua. However, like the Book of Joshua, Judges reports that through a truce Israel enjoyed a peaceful coexistence with some of the neighboring pagan tribes. One theme of Judges is that God blessed abundantly when the people kept the Commandments revealed to Moses; otherwise, suffering and strife befell the Chosen People. (CCC 62-64)

Ch 2:1-23 The Israelites’ sins prevented them from driving out the Canaanites completely. After Joshua’s death many Israelites slipped into the idolatry of the Canaanites around them, whose presence would test continually Israel’s resolve to be faithful to God. In the meantime, God would call JUDGES to lead the people and to deliver them from their enemies. As Judges shows, the death of each judge would be followed by ANOTHER REGRESSION into pagan practices. (CCC 2112-2114)

Ch 2:11-19 Without the grace of God, it is impossible for anyone to keep the Law since the will, on its own, is not sufficiently strong to uphold the moral law habitually. (CCC 1889, 1993-1995)

Ch 3:1-31 On account of Israel’s transgressions, divine punishment was heaped upon them in the form of subjugation by a foreign nation. When the Israelites returned to the practice of the Mosaic Law and the worship of the ONE TRUE GOD, they defeated their enemies in war. (CCC 218-220)

Ruth 1:1-22 Ruth, a young Moabite widow (POP QUIZ!! Where did the Moabites come from? Submit your answer in the comment section of the Facebook Post 😉), agreed to move with her Israelites mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem, where Naomi was raised. Ruth further pledged to take on the faith of Israel and worship the ONE TRUE GOD. For this reason, Ruth is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of the GENTILES who would one day receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ and enter the Church that he established. The book also witnesses to the love and fidelity of a husband and wife in marriage. (CCC 489, 1611)

Ch 1:11-13 Under the Levirate law, a childless widow would marry the brother (or, if there was no brother, the nearest available male relative) of her deceased husband in order to produce an heir. Naomi urged her two widowed daughters-in-law to go back to their own people, warning them that she was too old to marry and have a son; thus, they would never have a husband and children of their own. One daughter-in-law left for her own people, but Ruth remained. 

Psalm 133 This very short psalm extols the unity in faith symbolized by the oil of anointing that consecrates the priests, who are mediators between God and the people. The “anointed ones” bring about unity among the people through their unity with God. This psalm is complemented by Christ’s words, “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). (CCC 1294, 1564)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Israel’s Cycle of Sin (Sin--->Servitude--->Supplication--->Salvation--->Silence--->

back to Sin; this happens 7 times)

Israel’s Judges 

Handing On the Faith 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for your Word. We thank you for these stories that you reveal to us, because you reveal to us that even in the midst of trial, even in the midst of our unfaithfulness, once again, in the midst of unfaithfulness, you are faithful. You fight for us. You give us a deliverer whose name is Jesus Christ. And it is in His name that we pray to you this day. Amen.”