PART FOUR – JOSHUA, JUDGES, AND RUTH
Joshua tells of the entry of the Israelites into Canaan and their conquest and division of the land. The killings continue; Joshua’s God is a God of war. This is also the book in which God makes the sun stand still. Although tradition holds that it was written by Joshua, it is probable that it was written by multiple editors and authors far removed from the times it depicts.
The Book of Judges features Gideon and Samson, and carries a content warning: “Judges is a violent book even by biblical standards… Read it yourself, if you have a strong enough stomach.” (SAB) The highlights are so grisly, I’ll refrain from posting them here. The stories follow a repetitive pattern: unfaithfulness to Yahweh, suffering and punishment, repentance and obedience, prosperity, unfaithfulness, etc.
Finally we get a brief reprieve from the violence in Ruth. It tells the story of the great-grandmother of David, who was, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus. Ruth contains the famous “Your people will be my people and your God my God” speech. Its stress on the need for an inclusive attitude towards foreigners suggests an origin in the fifth century BCE, when intermarriage had become controversial.