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First Reading: Judges Chapter 21 and Ruth Chapter 1
21:1 The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah: "Not one of us will
give his daughter in marriage to a Benjamite."
2 The people went to Bethel, where they sat before God until evening, raising their voices and weeping bitterly. 3 "O LORD, the God of Israel," they cried, "why has this happened to Israel? Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?"
4 Early the next day the people built an altar and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.
5 Then the Israelites asked, "Who from all the tribes of Israel has failed to assemble before the LORD?" For they had taken a solemn oath that anyone who failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah should certainly be put to death.
6 Now the Israelites grieved for their brothers, the Benjamites. "Today one tribe is cut off from Israel," they said. 7 "How can we provide wives for those who are left, since we have taken an oath by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?" 8 Then they asked, "Which one of the tribes of Israel failed to assemble before the LORD at Mizpah?" They discovered that no one from Jabesh Gilead had come to the camp for the assembly. 9 For when they counted the people, they found that none of the people of Jabesh Gilead were there.
10 So the assembly sent twelve thousand fighting men with instructions to go to Jabesh Gilead and put to the sword those living there, including the women and children. 11 "This is what you are to do," they said. "Kill every male and every woman who is not a virgin." 12 They found among the people living in Jabesh Gilead four hundred young women who had never slept with a man, and they took them to the camp at Shiloh in Canaan.
13 Then the whole assembly sent an offer of peace to the Benjamites at the rock of Rimmon. 14 So the Benjamites returned at that time and were given the women of Jabesh Gilead who had been spared. But there were not enough for all of them.
15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because the LORD had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16 And the elders of the assembly said, "With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17 The Benjamite survivors must have heirs," they said, "so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18 We can't give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: 'Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.' 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the LORD in Shiloh, to the north of Bethel, and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah."
20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, "Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, 'Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.'"
23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.
25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
1:1 In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and
a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to
live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man's name was Elimelech, his
wife's name Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They
were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.
3 Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.
6 When she heard in Moab that the LORD had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, Naomi and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.
8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, "Go back, each of you, to your mother's home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. 9 May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband."
Then she kissed them and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, "We will go back with you to your people."
11 But Naomi said, "Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands? 12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me-even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons- 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD's hand has gone out against me!"
14 At this they wept again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-by, but Ruth clung to her.
15 "Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her."
16 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, "Can this be Naomi?"
20 "Don't call me Naomi," she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."
22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.
Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 51 and 52
51:1 For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,according to your unfailing love;according to your
great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and
cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth,sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness;let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,the God who saves me,and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips,and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;a broken and contrite heart,O God, you will not despise.
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,whole burnt offerings to delight you;then bulls will be offered on your altar.
52:1 For the director of music. A maskil of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: "David has gone to the house of Ahimelech."
Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man?Why do you boast all day long,you
who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? 2 Your tongue plots destruction;it is
like a sharpened razor,you who practice deceit. 3 You love evil rather than
good,falsehood rather than speaking the truth.Selah 4 You love every harmful
word,O you deceitful tongue!
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent;he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6 The righteous will see and fear;they will laugh at him, saying, 7 "Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!"
8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 I will praise you forever for what you have done;in your name I will hope, for your name is good.I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
The book of Ruth is dated during the period of the Judges. It shows that in a time of national decline and immorality, God preserved a remnant who could serve as the core for a future revival. This would be accomplished in Ruth's descendant, David, from whom the Messiah would come. No indication of the author is given. It is thought that the book was written after the period of the Judges and describes customs of that time period.
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