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  1. NAME OF THE BOOK ‒ The book is named after one of its main characters, Ruth the Moabitess, ancestress of David and Jesus, Matthew 1:5.


    1. This book is part of the third division of the Hebrew canon called "the Writings."

    2. It is also part of a special group of five small books called the Megilloth or "Five Rolls." Each of these five small books: Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and Lamentations, is read at a different feast day. Ruth is read at Pentecost or Feast of Weeks.

    3. The LXX places Ruth after Judges. Josephus, in Contra Apion, 1:8, says there were only 22 books in the OT. This would mandate that Judges and Ruth were counted as one book. Therefore, its inclusion in "the Writings" section may be later (Jerome).

  3. GENRE

    1. This book is clearly historical narrative (see Special Topic: Old Testament Historical Narrative), told through dialogue (see Fee and Stuart, How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth, pp. 96-97). The book is made up of 85 verses; of this number, 50 are dialogue. This author was a wonderful story teller.

    2. Some scholars (Jewish Study Bible, p. 1580) feel this book is drama, not history, because of:
      1. the symbolic meaning of the characters' names (found nowhere else in the OT)
        1. Mahlon = weakness or sickness (BDB 563)
        2. Chilion = failing or wasting (BDB 479)
        3. Orpah = stiff-necked (BDB 791)
        4. Naomi = pleasantness or sweetness (BDB 654)
        5. Mara = bitterness (BDB 600)
        6. Ruth = similar root to friendship (BDB 946)

        Leon Morris, in the Tyndale OT Commentary Series, p. 249, mentions that these names have been found in Ugaritic texts, which shows they were known in Canaanite areas of a similar period. Therefore, one must not automatically assume they are symbolic/typological.

      2. the uncharacteristic way that all of the characters are seen as noble during the period of the Judges
      3. the strong religious faith expressed by the characters in the period of the Judges (which was so godless, cf. Judges 17-21)


    1. Like so many Old Testament books, it is anonymous.

    2. Baba Bathra 14b (Talmud) says Samuel wrote his book and Judges and Ruth. Since Ruth 4:17, 22 implies that David was well known, this seems unlikely but not impossible.

    3. Ruth 4:7 shows a later author or editor by the phrase "this was the custom in former times."

  5. DATE

    1. The events of the story occur during the Period of the Judges, Ruth 1:1, which would be 1350 or 1200 B.C. (See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE DATE OF THE EXODUS) to 1020 B.C.. This is probably why the LXX places the book after Judges.

    2. It must have occurred during a period of peace between Israel and Moab.
      1. This is surprising in light of Judges 3:12-30.
      2. However, there must have been peace at times, 1 Sam. 22:3-4 (i.e., Saul).

    3. When was the book written?
      1. The date of the writing is obviously during David's reign, Ruth 4:17, 22. The historicity of the account is confirmed by the fact that a Moabitess in David's lineage was not a compliment to him! (cf. Deut. 23:3-4).
      2. The style and vocabulary of Ruth is similar to Samuel but not Chronicles.

  6. SOURCES CORROBORATING HISTORICAL SETTING ‒ the only aspect of this book that has been found in archaeological discoveries is the transferring of the sandal as a legal sign of the transfer of inheritance rights. A similar custom has been documented in the Nuzi tablets. These are Akkadian cuneiform tablets from the 2nd millennium B.C. period, which we call the Patriarchal Period (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob).

  7. LITERARY UNITS (Context)

    1. Naomi's family flees God's judgment on Israel, moves to Moab where all the men of her family die, Ruth 1:1-5.

    2. Naomi returns to Bethlehem with her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth 1:6-22.

    3. Ruth meets Boaz at the barley harvest. He is kind to her, Ruth 2:1-23.

    4. Naomi and Ruth plan to entice Boaz and they succeed, Ruth 3:1-18.

    5. Boaz takes the initiative to become the go'el for Naomi's surrogate, Ruth, Ruth 4:1-22.


    1. The godly character of a Gentile believer, Ruth 1:16-17 (especially a Moabite, cf. Deut. 23:3).

    2. The godly character of women, both Jewish and Gentile (see SPECIAL TOPIC: WOMEN IN THE BIBLE).

    3. The lineage of King David and King Messiah includes foreign women, Matt. 1:5, Luke 3:32, and it was by God's plan to show the inclusion of all people (i.e., Gen. 1:26-27; see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN).

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