ripple effect: vacaville

d74 Baby Ruuuuuuuuuth!
June 20, 2007, 10:21 am
Filed under: benjamin, chilion, dan, elimelech, god, judges, levi, mahlon, mara, micah, naomi, orpah, ruth

Read Ruth 1:1-22.

[OK…so we’re skipping the resolution of the book of Judges, but here’s a quick glance…

* We get a random story about a guy named Micah who build a shrine in his house and hired a Levite to be his priest. I guess the story is an example of how random the practice of worship had gotten during the era of the judges.

* OK…then, the tribe of Dan decides to steal the Levite from the house of Micah to be their priest. What’s weird is that they conquered some other people and did a “blended” worship with that Levite, Moses’ grandson, and some idols they had made for themselves.

* Then things get a little weird. A young Levite takes his concubine with him on a trip, but the men in a town (within the territory of the tribe of Benjamin) that they are staying in give him the “Sodom and Gomorrah” treatment. In his place, the Levite’s concubine gets raped and abused all night long. The next morning, she’s dead. So, the Levite cuts the woman into twelve pieces and mails them to all twelve tribes in Israel.

* This ends up being a battle cry that brings all the other tribes of Israel up against Benjamin. And, in a battle that suffers losses on both side, the tribe of Benjamin ends up getting decimated by casualties, having all the women and children and towns destroyed.

* Well, then the other tribes feel sorry for the tribe of Benjamin. And, although none of them would give their own women to them as wives, they didn’t want an entire tribe of Israel to go extinct. They then realized that the tribe of Jabesh-gilead hadn’t had any people fight in the battle, so they slaughtered the men of Jabesh-gilead and took all the virgins to give to the Benjamites as wives. They were also permitted to grab any dancing girls from Shiloh that they needed (kind of weird). Then everyone went home.

* Judges is left with the summary statement: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”]

And now we are in the book of Ruth.

1. OK, so Elimelech had a wife, Naomi. They had two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They were all from the tribe of Ephraim, but they lived in the land of Moab. Dad dies, and the two sons take foreign wives, Orpah and Ruth. (Incidentally, there is an African-American tradition of naming one’s child by opening up a Bible and picking the closest name to whatever you randomly point to. There is a famous person named after Orpah, but they switched the lettering around a little: Oprah Winfrey.)
2. After the men die, these women are pretty helpless. There weren’t many viable options for a woman back in the day. So, Naomi decides to go back to the land of Israel because she heard that God was blessing the Israelites. Also, there are parts of the Law of Israel that state that the poor should be shown grace.
3. She releases the girls to go back to their families. She can’t really do much to help them. Orphah goes with her head, but Ruth sticks around (maybe going with her heart?).
4. It’s hard to tell why Ruth sticks around. I think it’s funny that the verses in this first chapter are used a lot in weddings?!?! It’s about a daughter-in-law’s loyalty to her mother-in-law…not a husband to wife. Oh well. Christians are funny. Boy, people wigged out at my wedding, though, when my wife and I used the commands about marriage in the New Testament as our vows. I guess the ideas of submission and sacrifice just aren’t as cute. Woops…tangent.
5. Boy, if Ruth made her decision based on faith, it doesn’t appear that Naomi has. Naomi even changed her name to “Bitter” because she thinks that God has done her in.

So…I don’t know what questions to ask here. This is more setting the stage than anything else…

But, what do you think of…

1. Naomi?
2. Orpah?
3. Ruth?
4. Wedding vows?


d66 I Am Woman, Hear Me Stab

Read Judges 4:4-24.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* To end the book of Joshua, the Israelites bury the bones of Joseph, and Eleazar (Aaron’s son) dies.

Then we get into the book of Judges…at the end of Joshua, everyone’s ready to stand up for God; unfortunately, that doesn’t last without Joshua’s leadership. The book of Judges is about the leaders who God used to rescue Israel from their enemies (even though their sin is what put them in the position to need to be rescued).

* The tribe of Judah took on the inhabitants of Jerusalem and won, driving out the bad guys (and cutting off all the toes and fingers of the king?).

* Caleb offered his daughter, Acsah, to the man who would defeat another town. A guy named Othniel did, so he got to marry her.

* The tribe of Judah didn’t clear out the hill country because the men there had iron chariots.

* The tribe of Benjamin didn’t clear out the bad guys but instead decided to live with them.

* The descendents of Joseph didn’t kill one guy and his family because he helped them destroy a city.

* The tribe of Manasseh wouldn’t beat their enemies, so they let them stay as slaves.

* The tribe of Ephraim didn’t beat their enemies, so they let them live there.

* The tribe of Zubulun made slaves out of their enemies.

* The tribe of Asher did such a bad job of driving the people out, that the Canaanites dominated the land of Asher…same for the tribe of Naphtali.

* The tribe of Dan couldn’t even “move in”–they had to live in the hill country because of their enemies.

* An angel from the Lord told the Israelites that they had disobeyed God by not clearing out the land of their enemies and their false gods. So…God said they would have to suffer the consequences.

* A new generation came up that didn’t care about following God…they went with the locals and followed Baal and Ashterah. From that point on God fought AGAINST the Israelites in battle.

* Because God still had compassion on His people, when they cried out, He gave them a “judge” to lead them against their enemies. But the cycle of disobedience continued despite the efforts of the judges.

* First Judge: Othniel. He defeated Cushan-rishathaim, an evil king who had tormented Israel for eight years. After his victory, Israel had peace for 40 years. But then he died…

* Second Judge: Ehud. Israel got stupid again and was defeated by Eglon, the fat king of the Moabites, for 18 years. Ehud went to “deliver taxes” to Eglon and gave him a secret message, a dagger to his fat belly!!! Ehud then rallied the troops and brought peace for 80 years.

* Third Judge: Shamgar. He killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. Wow.]

Why should the guys have all the fun…

1. OK, so the Israelites got dumb again and were under Jabin and General Sisera for 20 years. Why must the Israelites continuously disobey God?
2. So, Deborah is a judge; and she tells Barak to go to war with Sisera. He says only if she goes with him. Why?
3. Guy’s, there is no honor in letting a woman do the work that God calls YOU to do. In the midst of this story about the power of women, there is also a charge for manliness.
4. God controls the battle. He throws them into confusion. Why was God involved in this one and not the others?
5. I love Jael. That’s all I want to say. She gave him milk and stabbed him in the head with a TENG PEG!?! Yesss… And Deborah’s prophesy came true. She killed Sisera, not Barak.

What do you think about:


d30 Jacob’s Blessings
May 7, 2007, 9:46 pm
Filed under: asher, benjamin, dan, gad, genesis, issachar, jacob, joseph, judah, levi, naphtali, reuben, simeon, zebulun

Read Genesis 49:1-33

[Back to skipping some stuff…

*Joseph brings his family to Egypt.

*Jacob and Joseph are reunited.

*Jacob’s family settles is Goshen.

*Joseph makes Egypt very wealthy during the famine.

*Jacob ends up giving Joseph a double-blessing by blessing each of his two songs, Ephraim and Manasseh.]

OK…so here we go with the blessings of Jacob’s sons:

1. Reuben gets a weak blessing because he decided to have sex with one of his dad’s women. Big no no.
2. Simeon and Levi get a weak blessing because they retaliated against the men of Schechem when their sister was raped.
3. Judah gets the awesome blessing. The “lion” comes up here. Jesus is later referred to as “the lion of Judah.” Lion’s are king of the jungle. Um…and it also says that rulers will come out of Judah’s descendents. Yeah…later on, that’ll be David…and even later on…that’ll be Jesus. Do you think Judah “deserved” this blessing?
4. Zebulun’s people are sea-people. Cool…the pirates of Zebulun!
5. Issachar’s people will be in forced labor? Um…I don’t consider that a blessing!
6. I don’t get Dan’s blessing. He will be a viper and bite the heels of horses? Then it says that he will wait for God’s salvation? What’s up with that?
7. Gad would have liked Oakland because it seems that he will be a “raider” nation.
8. Asher’s people will have good food. Yesssss!
9. Naphatali’s descendents will apparently be good looking?
10. Joseph gets a cool blessing. It’s like he was hit at with arrows, but he always stood firm. It says that he will have blessings that surpass his father’s. I like that Joseph gets a lot of good in the end.
11. Benjamin is a wolf? Hmm…

Yeah…so…what do you think about these blessings? Rank who you think got the best/worst deals.

d20 Reuniting with Esau
April 27, 2007, 5:44 pm
Filed under: asher, bilhah, dan, dinah, esau, gad, genesis, god, issachar, jacob, joseph, judah, laban, leah, levi, naphtali, rachel, reuben, simeon, zebulun, zilpah

Read Genesis 32:1 – 33:16.

[Stuff we’re skipping over…

*Leah was a baby-making machine. Rachel was barren. It says that God did this because of how badly Leah was treated by Jacob. Leah has boy #1, Reuben. Leah has boy #2, Simeon. Leah has boy #3, Levi. And, Leah has boy #4, Judah. Like I said, baby-making machine.

*Rachel blames Jacob for not being able to have kids. Jacob says that’s God’s deal, not his. She gives him her servant, Bilhah, to make babies. Bilhah had boy #5, Dan. Bilhah had boy #6, Naphtali.

*Leah got jealous, so she let Jacob get with her maidservant, Zilpah. Zilpah had boy #7, Gad. Zilpah had boy #8, Asher.

*There’s also an interesting story in which Rachel trades one night with Jacob for some stuff (mandrakes) that apparently makes it more possible to conceive. Great idea. Only problem, Leah gets pregnant on that “one night” and gives Jacob boy #9, Issachar. And she had boy #10, Zebulun. Oh…and she had a daughter, Dinah, for good measure.

*Finally, Rachel gets a kid of her own; boy #11 is Joseph.

*Jacob wants to leave, and he makes a deal to get some sheep for all his trouble. Jacob basically works it so that he breeds stronger sheep for himself and weaker sheep for Laban. The trickster got it done again.

*This ticked off Laban and his sons, so God told Jacob to leave ASAP. Jacob told his wives it was time to go, and he headed for the hills. But, for some reason, Rachel steals Laban’s household god statues (apparently they weren’t followers of the Lord). Anyway, Jacob snuck out (trickster!), but Laban came looking for him. When he caught up with Jacob, he asked what the deal was (he would have thrown a going away party? yeah right!), and he said that Jacob stole his statues. Jacob said he would kill whoever stole them. So…they searched each tent for the gods, and Rachel sat with the gods hidden under a saddle in a tent. When her dad told her to get up, she said that she was (lie of all lies) on her PERIOD?!? At this point, they chewed each other out, and made a deal not to interfere with each other ever again.]

Yowza…that was a lot…

1. What do you think of Jacob’s “gift basket” for Esau? How do you think he should have responded?
2. What would you be thinking if you knew that the brother who wanted to kill you was showing up with 400 men! Oh, yeah, well Jacob had…um…well…4 ladies, some servants, and 12 kids? Uh oh…
3. This situation brings Jacob to his knees. He prays. Why do you think that it takes people stressful situations to finally go to God?
4. So…Jacob sends a “bribe” to his brother (please don’t kill me…please don’t kill me). I like how he sent the gifts in waves.
5. At this point, he’s sent his family away; and he is alone. And what happens? A “man” wrestles with him all night, knocking his hip out of joint. The “man” tells Jacob to let him go, but Jacob says he won’t let go until he’s blessed. Any thoughts on this part?
6. The “man” changes Jacob’s name to Israel (yeah…like the country named after him). From now on his name will mean “struggles with God.” Ironic. Do you find your faith to be a struggle or a wrestling match somtimes?
7. Jacob deduces that this “man” must have been God. Wow.
8. He bowed seven times…total submission…and then…
9. Esau runs up to him and kisses him and embraces him. Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Maybe God had Jacob’s back?
10. What do you think Jacob meant when he said that seeing Esau was like seeing the face of God? Interesting statement since he literally just saw the face of God the night before. What do you think he meant?
11. They part ways happily.

Sorry about the lateness of this post. I hope everyone has a chance to look at it though, because I know there is a lot of good stuff in these chapters. Joseph, the 11th son, the son of Rachel is going to be the focus coming up.