Studying the Historical Books

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After completing our 3 1/2-year cycle of readings in the Torah, we’ve decided to continue with the historical books that follow, beginning with Joshua. We’ll read first about the conquest of the Canaanite tribes, then examine the disappointing time of the Judges – punctuated by the exploits of Gideon and Samson – and the turmoil that led up to the anointing of Saul as King.

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August 1, 2021 – 1 Samuel 1:1-18 – Hannah’s Prayer

The Books of 1 & 2 Samuel focus on Samuel, both a priest and a prophet, and the rise of Saul and David. In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, Hannah is wracked by sorrow because she has no children and prays to God, vowing to dedicate her firstborn as a Nazarite.

Notes on 1 Samuel 1:1-18

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July 25, 2021 – Judges 21 – Wives for the Benjamites

In the last chapter of the Book of Judges, the Israelite tribes realize that their rash vow and war of extermination against the Benjamites will eliminate an entire tribe. Their solution only leads to further bloodshed.

Notes on Judges 21:1-25

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July 18, 2021 – Observing the Fast of Ab

The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple – first by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. and later by the Romans in 70 A.D. – are marked by Jews each year at the Fast of Ab. It is a time of mourning and deep reflection on the sins that brought God’s judgment on them, and points us all toward the path of repentance.

For Christians, the fast can be a time of thanksgiving for the forgiveness brought by Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross.

In fact, the medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah:

Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

See our notes on the Fast of Ab here.

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July 11, 2021 – Judges 20 – The Tribes War Against Benjamin

The disharmony between the Levite and his wife (Judges 19) results in an atrocity that leads to a civil war between the tribes.

Notes on Judges 20:1-48

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June 27, 2021 – The Fast of Tammuz

Zechariah 8:19 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

The Fast of Tammuz, which we will celebrate this year on June 27, begins a three-week season of mourning and repentance. The first fast reminded Jews of the day when the wall of Jerusalem was breached by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. (and later by the Romans in 70 A.D.) The Fast of Ab three weeks later designates the complete destruction of the Temple and Israel carried off into captivity. The focus of this season is on the idolatry that brought God’s judgment upon them, and a search to rid ourselves of any idolatry within.

The medieval Jewish commentator Maimonides said that all these fasts would cease in the times of the Messiah. So Zechariah’s prophesy points to God’s final victory, which as believers we celebrate from our position as “seated with him in the heavenlies.”

See the Notes on the Fast of Tammuz

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