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Book of Ruth

Book of Ruth
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The Book of Ruth is named after the Moabite woman who was joined to the Israelite people by her marriage with the influential Boaz of Bethlehem.

While only four chapters in length, the book contains a beautiful example of filial piety, pleasing to the Hebrews especially because of its connection with King David, and useful both to Hebrews and to Gentiles. Its aim is to demonstrate the divine reward for such piety even when practiced by a stranger. Ruth's piety (Ruth 2:11), her spirit of self-sacrifice, and her moral integrity were favored by God with the gift of faith and an illustrious marriage whereby she became the ancestress of David and of Christ. In this, the universality of the messianic salvation is foreshadowed.

In the Greek and Latin canons the Book of Ruth is placed just after Judges, to which it is closely related because of the time of its action, and just before Samuel, for which it is an excellent introduction, since it traces the ancestry of the Davidic dynasty. One might characterize the literary form of this book as dramatic, since about two-thirds of it is in dialogue. Yet there is every indication that, as tradition has always held, it contains true history.

There is no certainty about the author of the book. It was written long after the events had passed (Ruth 4:7), which took place "in the time of the judges" (Ruth 1:1).

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A summary outline of the the Book of Ruth is as follows.

  1. Naomi's predicament - Chapter 1.
    1. The deaths of Naomi's husband and sons 1:1-5
    2. Naomi's inability to provide husbands for Ruth and Orpah 1:6-14
    3. Ruth's profession of faith in Yahweh 1:15-18
    4. Naomi's weak faith 1:19-21
    5. Hope for the future 1:22
  2. Naomi and Ruth's plans - Chapters 2—3
    1. The plan to obtain food - Chapter 2.
      1. God's providential guidance of Ruth 2:1-7
      2. The maidservant of Boaz 2:8-13
      3. Ruth's privileges and responsibility 2:14-16
      4. Ruth's blessing of Naomi physically 2:17-23
    2. The plan to obtain rest - Chapter 3.
      1. Naomi's plan to secure rest for Ruth 3:1-5
      2. Ruth's encouragement and Boaz's response 3:6-13
      3. Ruth's return to Naomi 3:14-18
  3. God's provision - Chapter 4.
    1. The nearer kinsman's decision 4:1-6
    2. Boaz's securing of the right to marry Ruth 4:7-12
    3. God's provision of a son 4:13-17
    4. The genealogical appendix 4:18-22

We will now direct our focus on the Book of 1 Samuel.

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