Like I said yesterday, Judges is a tough book. By the end it’s tempting to feel like the nation of Israel is beyond hope and nearing complete destruction.
But God always has a remnant. I highly recommend reading Judges and Ruth back to back because the impact of the righteousness seen in Ruth is that much greater compared with the depravity of Judges.
The most striking thing to me is the treatment of women in Judges compared to Ruth. At the end of Judges there is the tragic story of the Levite and his concubine. They travel to Gibeah, which belongs to the tribe of Benjamin. While staying in an old man’s home, some worthless men of the city come to the house and demand to have relations with the Levite. Instead, the concubine is forced into the town square where she ends up being viciously raped and left for dead. In the morning, the Levite callously takes her dead body home and proceeds to dismember it! He then sends the pieces of the body throughout all the twelve tribes of Israel to exact revenge on the men of Gibeah. What happens next is nothing less than civil war in Israel.
What a contrast in Ruth. Boaz is the exact opposite of the Levite in the way he treats women, and not just Israelite women. He goes above and beyond in providing for Ruth, a Moabite. He protects her and the other women who work on his land.
Ruth and Naomi begin their story as two women without hope or protection. In the end, they find a refuge in their kinsman redeemer Boaz. And what seemed like a hopeless story for Israel begins to look better. God hasn’t forgotten his promises. Hope is coming.