[Reaction to OT May 1-6 readings from One Year Bible]
I have now finished the books of Judges & Ruth. The book of Judges includes the stories of Ehud; Deborah; Gideon; Jephthah; and Samson. For the most part, these are stories of the independent tribes fighting various enemies. In these, the judge, or hero, is obvious, as is the enemy. God helps the hero liberate Isreal, Israel sins again, God lets the enemies take over, they need another hero. I’d read a book about the role of women in these Hebrew folktales as compared to their role in Greek or Egyptian fables.
Anyway, toward the end of Judges you get the real point: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” E.g., Judges 17:6. The book concludes with one ambiguous story (that of Micah’s Levite) and one unambiguously wicked and gruesome one (the Levite’s concubine). Ugly Biblical Stories.
Since the book of Joshua, I’ve notice the occasional phrase such as “and that’s why ____ is that way/is there today.” It seems that the story of the Levite’s concubine has some of that quality. But primarily, it advocates–strongly–for an Isrealite king. As I read on, I believe I will find authors arguing strongly against the proposal for centralized government.
Also, here is the story of Ruth. Like the stories of the judges, it is fairly self-contained, except it establishes that David is 1/8th not Israelite.