NLT Study Bible Blog.
The Time of the Judges (Ruth #2)
In the first article in this series, I introduced the book of Ruth and listed a number of questions that the book raises for us as readers. Let’s begin to look at the answers to these questions.



Timeline in the Ruth introduction.

Ruth 1:1 sets the story "in the days when the judges ruled in Israel." When was the time of the judges? The NLT Study Bible materials for Ruth provide two answers to this question: (a) Every book introduction includes a timeline in the margin (see at right) to set the book in its historical context, and (b) the NLT Study Bible note on 1:1 answers the question briefly:
The judges ruled from the death of Joshua (about 1376 or 1200 BC) to the beginning of Saul’s reign as king (about 1050 BC). The events of Ruth occurred around 1100 BC.

So from the introduction to Ruth and the study note on 1:1 we can get an immediate answer to our question and see other events that set Ruth in context.

However, the answer raises other questions, such as, What do we know about the time of the judges in general? and, Why does the study note give two dates given for Joshua’s death? For answers to larger chronological and historical questions like these, we turn to the chronology article on the time of the judges.



This article discusses the history of the judges period from a chronological perspective and includes a detailed visual timeline showing the relationships among events. The second paragraph of the article gives us a clue regarding our second question: “The people of Israel entered the Promised Land of Canaan in either 1406 or 1230 BC, depending on the date of the Exodus (see ‘The Chronology of Abraham to Joshua,’ pp. 118–121).” So we would expect to find the answer to the two-date question in that article – and in fact, that is what the article discusses in some detail.

We could continue to explore the time of the judges historically by reading the “Introduction to the Book of Judges” and the “Introduction to the Old Testament Historical Books.” After reading these articles, we would have a good understanding of the historical setting in which the book of Ruth took place in Israel’s history.

The time of the judges, as you will find from reading that book, was a time when the tribes of Israel were disunited and subject to repeated hardships as a result of their covenant unfaithfulness, followed by repeated rescue through the service of inspired judges. The period was one of increasing social chaos and moral and spirital anarchy. The book of Ruth stands as a beacon during that dark and uncertain time, giving an example of the Lord’s blessing on those who trust in him. Ruth shows readers that, even though it seemed to be the worst of times, the Lord was at work to bring his plans for Israel’s blessing to fruition through King David.
posted by Sean Harrison at 10:27 AM
3 Comments
Blogger Stan McCullars said...

Several days ago, a friend mentioned to me how he wished he had a timeline to help him see at a glance the big picture in the Bible.

Context is king.

July 2, 2008 12:15 PM  
Blogger Sean Harrison said...

Stan, in addition to these timelines in the chronology articles, covering all of the Bible, we have a four-page timeline in the front matter that gives an overview of the whole of Bible history. Finally, in the books of Kings, which are difficult to sort out chronologically, we have detailed timelines all the way through the divided monarchy.

July 3, 2008 12:08 PM  
Blogger Stan McCullars said...

Sean,
The timelines through the books of Kings will be most appreciated by me. I have been reading through these books the past few weeks and it has been interesting (somewhat difficult) to follow.

July 3, 2008 3:28 PM  

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