I did promise that we wouldn’t focus on 1:1-5 anymore, and that’s still technically true 😉
After famine strikes the House of Bread, Elimelech brings his wife and children into the land of Moab. Where have we heard their names before?
Genesis 19, after Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. After Lot brings his wife and two daughters out of the city, they hide in a mountain. There, the daughters worry about the continuing legacy of their name. To overcome the problem of not having husbands, they end up sleeping with Lot and bearing his children. This union brought forth Moab and Ben-Ammi, the fathers of the Moabites and the Amonites.
After having read the entire Bible leading up to Ruth, we would have refreshed our memories of this story when we reached Judges 19. A Levite and his concubine were travelling, and the woman was unfaithful to her husband. She ran off, and the Levite went to bring her back. At his father-in-law’s house, he spoke sweetly with her to bring her back. After being delayed at his house for about a week, the couple moved from there to another city near Jebus. As they tried to stay in the city square in Gibeah (a city opposite Jebus, mind you), a man brought them into his house. He offers plenty of food and lodging for the humans and animals alike.
This is where disaster strikes. When the community bangs on the man’s door to have sex with the Levite, the man offers up his own daughter and the Levite’s concubine. Whereas Lot had the protection of angels to keep his family safe, no such protection exists in Gibeah. The women are thrown to the wolves, so to speak, and brutally assaulted all night long. The Levite takes his dead concubine (or kills his immobile concubine) and chops her into pieces to call Israel to war. So Gibeah becomes the new Sodom and Gomorrah, but the city is not destroyed.
And suddenly, Israelite men are leaving the land with their wives. And now, God’s people are again becoming mixed with the Moabites.
What could go wrong?
Or, in God’s eternal plan, what could go extremely right?