The Old Testament consists of a number of books, three of which are named after the women, Ruth, Esther, and Judith. Each of these books tells the story of the women it is named after, as well as, their religious activities and contributions during their time. Each of the books is different from the other as the experiences of the three women differ from each other. The book of Ruth tells the story of a poor foreign woman named Ruth who overcomes her trials and tribulations through the help of an older woman, Naomi. The story of Ruth is set in the period before the birth of King David and after the freeing of the two tribes of Judah from captivity in Babylon. In essence, the story of Ruth is primarily concerned with the theme of loyalty, courage, and ingenuity during difficult times. Accordingly, Ruth has also been mentioned in the New Testament owing to her story in the Old Testament and her significance to Christianity and the lives of Christians.
The story of Esther, on the other hand, was specifically written for Jews in Diaspora. This book was written as an example of how Jews should live in exile through the exercise of courage and integrity. After the banishment of queen Vashti, Esther, a young Jew is chosen as the next queen. Her uncle Mordecai hears of a rumor for the murder of the king and decides to warn the king through his new wife and his niece Esther. Angered by the planned events, the king decides to kill Mordecai as punishment to all the Jews and Esther manages to save her uncle from death. Additionally, Esther saves all the Jews of Persia after the high court gives the command that all Jews in Persia should be killed. The story of Esther is seen as being more than the story of Esther in the Bible, discreetly, the book of Esther presents a political satire and the dangers of monarchy.
Additionally, the book also illustrates anti-Semitism, a religious trend that has long been accused of existing in the modern society. Lastly, the book of Judith tells the story of a wealthy and beautiful young widow who lived in Bethuliah. Judith, the young widow embarks on a sexually ambiguous mission to save her people from death, hence obliteration. She seduces the army general and kills him with his own sword. Similar to the story of David and Goliath, the book of Judith bears the theme of a seemingly weak person overcoming a stronger person through the help of God. While the stories of Ruth and Esther are factual in history, the story of Judith is fictional and is aimed at passing a theological message to the readers and Christians in general. In essence, the three books are used as illustrations for the proper way of life for Christians. Each of these women demonstrates a fruit of the holy spiri tin their personalities, hence their significance in the Christian religion.
This paper provides an analysis of three women of the Bible, Ruth, Esther, and Judith. The paper compares and contrasts these three women in terms of character and personality. Specifically, the paper explains how these three women demonstrate courage, devotion, faith, patience, and peace in both their stories and characters.
All three women demonstrate a level of courage in their experiences and stories. Accordingly, in each of their experiences, the women overcome various obstacles for the attainment of their religious goals. Ruth’s courage is demonstrated in her proposal of marriage to Boaz. In the traditional religious setting during her time, men were tasked with the responsibility of proposing to their women, and the fact that Ruth bravely proposed to him reveals her courage and audacity as a character. Esther, on the other hand, demonstrates her courage by saving her uncle Mordecai, as well as, the rest of the Jews from execution by the king and the high court. Being a Jew herself, Esther risked the possibility of being condemned to death, but she managed to stand up against the king and the Persian authorities in defense of her own people. Lastly, Judith also demonstrates a level of courage in her personality, and she uses this courage to seduce an army general so as to execute her plan effectively. In addition to this, Judith also demonstrates courage when she dares to kill the army general as he has fallen asleep drunk. Judith risked her own life by performing this act at the comfort of his home. Evidently, these three women derive their courage from God and before performing any of their courageous acts, the seek God’s help and guidance through prayer. Fundamentally, the courage of these three women seems to be a character that has been endowed to them by the Holy Spirit, thus drawing on the significance of their stories to Christianity. Their courage allows each of the women to perform their religious duties, and to serve their God as per his will to the end with minimal distractions.
Another character that Ruth, Esther, and Judith demonstrate is devotion both to God and other people mentioned in their stories. The three women seem to have a deep conviction for their identity as Jews and the role of God in their lives, something that is used to illustrate their devotion. Ruth is Devoted to God, Naomi and her husband Boaz and her devotion to these people is illustrated in a number of ways. Her devotion to Naomi, her spiritual and emotional guide is illustrated in the way she readily accepts to leave her homeland so as to live with Naomi in the new land. According to Ruth, het vow to remain Naomi’s daughter till her death was something that she was devoted to fulfilling irrespective of the trials and tribulations she would face in the process. Even after Naomi pleaded with her to go back to her own people, Ruth remained loyal to Naomi, and she never at any one point thought to look back and go to her home. Ruth also demonstrates devotion to her God, the God of Israel and she obeys his every command throughout her life experiences. This devotion is illustrated in her promise to serve Naomi’s God for eternity. Esther’s devotion to her people is revealed in the way she defends her uncle Mordecai, as well as, her Jewish community from execution by the King a and the authorities. Esther is aware of the trouble that she could bring upon herself by summoning the king, with the possibility of facing death but her devotion to her people compelled her to go ahead with her plan so as to save them.
Additionally, Esther was also devoted to her God and she worked to serve him at all times. She believed in her God and constantly prayed and fasted as a way of showing her dedication to him, thus illustrating her devotion to her God. Lastly, Judith also demonstrated devotion to her people and her God. Her devotion to God is illustrated in the way she constantly prays and fasts, as a way of showing the God whom she serves. She is aware of God’s teachings and his expectation of human beings, something that she commits herself to performing at all times. Her devotion to God is also illustrated when she summons Uzziah and the other elders and informs them of what God is and is not. Her devotion to her people is notably illustrated by killing Holofernes, as a demonstration for the war which they are going to win in the end. None of her people was courageous enough to carry out this task and the fact that Judith performed this task with ease illustrates her devotion to her people.
Closely related to devotion, each of the three women also demonstrates a level of faith, especially faith in God in their experiences and stories as presented in the Bible. Evidently, all three women are Christians and they have faith in God and the Christianity. Much as the scriptures tell the experiences of these women, they also reveal the deep seated faith that each of these women has on the Lord God almighty. It is their faith in God that motivates them to carry out the different activities that they undertake in their lives, hence their abilities to be successful at all times. All three women have faith in God and readers are exposed to their lives as Christians in each of their stories. All three women engage in prayer and fasting, as a way of illustrating their faith in God, as well as, his teachings and commands. More specifically, Ruth demonstrates her faith in God in her decision to stand by Naomi even as she moved to a different location. She is faithful that God will bless her even with the change of location and give her a husband. She had faith that God would provide for her material, spiritual and emotional needs, something that God managed to do with ease.
Esther, on the other hand, demonstrated her faith in God, as she believed that he would protect her after revealing her identity as a Jew. Esther’s calling from God was to save the Jews from possible annihilation, and she knew that revealing her identity would mean that she also faces possible execution. Additionally, her activities were guided by God, and Esther faithfully adhered to them without questioning any activity that she was required to perform. Lastly, Judith also demonstrates her faith in God in the activities that she performs during her lifetime. Not only does she follow the commandment of God to the latter, Judith also embarks on a religious mission that compromises her identity a Christian, as well as, her moral and ethical beliefs. Guided by her faith in God, Judith kills an army general even if she is well aware that part of God’s commandments state that man shall not take away the life of another. The faith demonstrated by the three women inherently, grants them a reward from God. Ruth is blessed with a husband, Esther’s life is spared, and Judith gets to live a long and prosperous life.
Another virtue that these three women demonstrate is patience, and each of the three women demonstrates persistence and serenity in their lives. In the case of Ruth, her patience is demonstrated in the way she waits for a long period before she is blessed with another husband. She is a lonely widow who seeks to find a companion, and her commitment to Naomi has slowed this process down for her. However, she does not despair in her inability to find companion and she is patient enough to wait for as long as God would deliver a companion to her. Esther, on the other hand, demonstrates her patience in the process of negotiating with the king and the high court on freeing the Jews instead of killing them. Esther understand the difficult take that faces her and she does not rush the process of negotiation, thus illustrating her patience. Judith, on the other hand, also demonstrates her patient, as she is patient enough to wait for the right time to strike on the Assyrians as per the guidance of God. He patience is also demonstrated in her life experience where she patiently awaits for Gods calling through prayer and fasting. Judith believes that she has a role to fulfill, and for that reason, she is not quick in trying to fulfill this mission. Judith patiently waits for Holofernes’s invitation to his house so as to carry out her mission to the end and does not try to take his life without instructions from God.
The last virtue demonstrated by these characters in their stories is the ability to restore peace and unity among their people. Contrastingly, Ruth is the only character that does not grant peace to her people. This is because there is no conflict in her experiences that she needs to resolve for peace. However, Ruth demonstrates peace that is much different from that of the other two women.
Ruth managed to grant herself inner peace, thus allowing her to live a long and fulfilling life with her new husband, Boaz. Her patience and devotion to Naomi and Boaz grants her inner peace, as she is able to come out of her loneliness and enjoy the peace of mind, once she finds herself a companion. Unlike Ruth who restored her inner peace, Esther and Judith managed to restore peace to their communities and all the other people who are part of their stories and experiences. In Esther’s case, she managed to convince the Persian king and authorities not to condemn Jews to execution and death. This restored peace to the Jewish community, which was already in despair because of the king’s decision to kill all the Jews in the City. Judith’s murder of Holofernes, brought peace to her people as it assured them that they would not be under attack by the Assyrians any more. Assyrians grew to fear the Jews and they could not dare retaliate for the fear of losing more people in the process.
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